I always knew that reading was good for people. As a child, I escaped into fiction and found comfort and sometimes guidance in the stories I read. I learned about dedication and commitment from The Old Man and the Sea. I learned about loyalty and devotion to those we love from Of Mice and Men I learned about the danger of too much power and prestige in The Great Gatsby. And I learned about good and evil through the characters in the westerns I read by Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour . The good guys were clearly defined by the adherence to a strict moral code, while the outlaws operated on a different moral plane entirely.
It was interesting to read a recent article by Jonathan Gottschall, who teaches English at Washington & Jefferson College and is the author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make us Human. He validated my belief that fiction helped shape me when he shared results from research “that shows that reading fiction does mold us. The more deeply we are cast under a story’s spell, the more potent it’s influence.”
For the complete article, I suggest you go to this link. It is worth the time to get all the results of the research, especially the difference between the impact of reading fiction and non-fiction.
One of the most interesting facts that Gottschall pointed out is that fiction shapes us for the better, not for the worse. When I was researching for my nonfiction book, Coping With Weapons and Violence in School and on Your Streets, I found studies that indicated that all the violence in fiction promotes violence in young people, and the jury is still out on the effects of the violent video games. However, this new research indicates that reading fiction “enhances our ability to understand other people; it promotes a deep morality that cuts across religious and political creeds. More peculiarly, fiction’s happy ending seem to warp our sense of reality. They make is believe in a lie: that the world is more just than it actually is.”
Giving people that belief may explain “why humans tell stories in the first place.”
While I do not consciously have that thought in mind as I write my stories, most of my fiction does offer the hope that good will prevail over evil. It encourages people to embrace new ideas and attitudes toward people and cultures that are different from what they are comfortable with, and it looks at life situations and brings about that happy ending that doesn’t always happen in real life.
To assist you in believing in a happier world, there is a new book out, The Corner Cafe; A Tasty Collection of Short Stories that has an eclectic assortment of stories from published authors. I am pleased to be one of those authors with my story that is described as; “Over the Threshold” by Maryann Miller mixes a bit of Raymond Chandler noir with “The Twilight Zone.”
For the month of June, the authors will be doing a blog book tour, and the full schedule of stops can be found at Dani Greer’s blog site Blog Book Tours. The tour starts today and you can find a complete introduction to the book at Dani’s blog.