Poems and Pomegranates, Fictive Figs

I already loved pomegranates when I found out that they’re great for your health. But if it turned out that each seed you eat knocks a month off your life (see the myth of Persephone), I wouldn’t give a fig.

Last October, the journal Science published the results of a study suggesting that reading literary fiction–the primary example they give is Chekhov–improves your ability to read social cues and to empathize with other people; what they call “popular fiction,” by contrast, has no such effect.

I’d keep reading my Chekhov even if the results had shown the opposite; but I’m glad they didn’t.

The study is published in the October 18, 2013 issue of Science, but for the general message, you can read the New York Times blog’s version.

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