Reading Fiction for Well Being

Born Hungry for Stories

Before she can speak, an infant’s cry expresses her yearning. A loving voice swaddles the new soul. The words may come with music or the mere sound of turning pages, but they capture her heart and mind either way. The child quiets, listens, grows calm. As if an innate hunger has been offered fulfillment through the power of story.

[bctt tweet=”Story touches us, changes us, keeps us alive at a depth no other medium can claim.” username=”@tyeagerwrites”]

Word-Crafted Beings

Creation hints at our spiritual connection to the power of story. Judeo-Christian faith defines human beings as bearing the image of the Creator-God, whose words formed the universe. Scripture describes our triune Creator as Logos, the activating principle, otherwise known as the WORD.

“In the beginning was the Word … the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1, 14).

“So God created man in his own image … male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Our ancient origins resonate with word-power, and humanity has craved and crafted stories since the earliest recorded moments of our existence. Spiritually, emotionally, and innately, the fundamental need for story continues to prove vital to our being.

Bonding With Novels

Studies now indicate that reading connects us. Fiction improves personal connectivity and helps us develop empathy. We learn social skills and relate better to others when we live vicarious adventures with the characters in a novel. As we read about the Grinch’s life-change, our hearts may grow “three sizes,” too.

Brain Health

Research also shows the experience of immersive fiction benefits the mind. Reading enhances our creative potential, optimizing curiosity and problem-solving mindsets. Novels provide vigorous cognitive exercise. The same way gym classes fortify our bodies, compelling fiction strengthens the brain. No sweating or fatigue required (among my personal favorite bonuses).

Improve Our Influence

Fiction habits can improve our well being while optimizing our capacity to impact others. Messages delivered through music, senses, or story resonate at a deeper level. The mind also retains the message for a longer period of time, as marketing professionals have long understood. Storytellers, therefore, wield the power of influence.  Those who read will adopt greater skill at communicating messages to reach the heart, mind, and spirit with enduring impact.

Read Widely

Choose novels which engage your imagination, but stretch outside your reading list to include new options as well. I adore master authors like Tosca Lee, Steven James, Mary Weber, J.K. Rowling, Cornelia Funke, Zora Neale Hurston, Carrie Ann Noble, Alton Gansky, and Eva Marie Everson. Emerging novelists such as Kat Heckenbach, Kristen Stieffel, Nadine Brandes, Matt Mikalatos, and Kristen Hogrefe offer extraordinary reads. Yet, I also dabble in stories a little outside my norm and find new literary joys such as Angela Hunt, Allen Arnold, Andy Andrews, Shellie Arnold, or Sam Reaves. My favorite authors might differ from yours, but we should all sample new adventures in fiction to offer our minds the greatest benefit.

If you’d like to see some of the research I’ve mentioned, feel free to visit the following links:

Bookworms versus Nerds

Opening the Closed Mind

Reading Fiction Can Help You Live a Better Life

Why Getting Lost in a Book is So Good for You, According to Science (NBC News)

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