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Literature Hobbies

On the benefits of literature, and hobbies that can help us enjoy them.

Need for Closure: Keeping an open mind

The need for closure (NFC) has been defined as a desire for a definite answer to a question, as opposed to uncertainty, confusion, or ambiguity.

The need for cognitive closure | American Psychological Association

According to the study: “The need for closure is closely related to phenomena such as closed- and open-mindedness”. That means people with lesser need for closure could be more open-minded.

And literature can help us with it:

[…] participants in the short story condition experienced a significant decrease in self-reported need for cognitive closure.

Opening the Closed Mind: The Effect of Exposure to Literature on the Need for Closure | Creativity Research Journal

Perspective

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.

James Baldwin

Empathy and Theory of Mind

While related, empathy and Theory of Mind are distinct:

[…] empathy concerns our ability to share affective states with others; […] Theory of Mind represents our ability to interpret their mental state, their intentions and beliefs.

Intersections and Divergences Between Empathizing and Mentalizing | PubMed Central

Empathy and Theory of Mind are crucial social skills. Literature can enhance them both:

Researchers at The New School in New York City have found evidence that literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling.

Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy – Scientific American

photo of woman reading book

Specifically, these results show that reading literary fiction temporarily enhances ToM.

Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind | Science

Brain connectivity and cognitive skills

Literature can literally improve our brains:

On the days after the reading, significant increases in connectivity were centered on hubs in the left angular/supramarginal gyri and right posterior temporal gyri. […] Long-term changes in connectivity, which persisted for several days after the reading, were observed in bilateral somatosensory cortex, suggesting a potential mechanism for “embodied semantics.” […] our results suggest a potential mechanism by which reading stories not only strengthen language processing regions but also affect the individual through embodied semantics in sensorimotor regions.

Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain | Brain Connectivity

These changes might embody improved cognitive skills:

These findings suggest that reading fictional literature could lead to better procedures of processing information generally, including those of creativity.

Opening the Closed Mind: The Effect of Exposure to Literature on the Need for Closure: Creativity Research Journal

Relaxation

I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.

Why we read: authors and readers on the power of literature | Books | The Guardian

Literature Hobbies List

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