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Want to be a better thinker? Here’s the secret, read more fiction.....

29th March 2021

Lauren Sneyd, Library Assistant & Information Specialist, Bord Bia


This Food Alert will discuss the benefits of reading fiction for better thinking and share 3 free online resources to help you get started. It’s supported by evidence based studies, authoritative sources and some good thinking.


According to the Harvard Business Review, some of most valuable skills that managers look for in employees are qualities like self-discipline, self-awareness, creative problem-solving, empathy, learning agility, adaptiveness, flexibility, positivity, rational judgment, generosity, and kindness, among others. Recent research in neuroscience suggests that you might look to the library to help teach employees these all important skills because reading literary fiction helps people develop empathy, theory of mind, and critical thinking (Harvard, 2020).

When we read, we work our cognitive muscles to help develop the qualities, traits and characteristics in high demand in today’s workplace.


Here are 5 reasons why reading more fiction, can help you become a better thinker:


1) Studies show that reading fiction helps better decision making:

Reading literary fiction magnifies the brain's capacity to keep an open mind when processing information, making you a more efficient decision maker. Reading fiction requires us to process a large volume of information at a slower pace allowing us to adjust and change our thinking as we read. This happens naturally when we examine fiction from an outside perspective we may not experience in real life (Harvard, 2020).

Looking for recommendations? Check out this article from Time magazine on the 10 best fiction books of 2020 to get lost in https://time.com/5913197/best-fiction-books-2020/


2) Reading fiction helps future business leaders navigate competing viewpoints:

Scenarios presented in fiction can help business leaders to understand multiple viewpoints. While the situations presented in fiction are not the same, it allows you to examine a situation you are removed from (Harvard, 2020).

Looking for recommendations? Check out Bills Gates book reviews on a variety of subjects including fiction https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books#AllReviews


 3) Reading can provide an escape from the ‘real world’:

Closely linked to reducing stress levels, reading fiction helps provide an escape from the real world. Research has shown that escapism is more complex than just reading for light-hearted entertainment, but it did show that people found the process transformative changing the way people interact with the world and others ("Readers' advisory and underestimated roles of escapist reading | Emerald Insight", 2021).

A free resource to help get you started:

For those looking to escape Project Gutenberg is a library of over 60,000 free ebooks with expired copyright licenses.


4) Reading Fiction can help you develop empathy for others:

 People who read fiction have been shown to improve their level of empathy, the ability to understand someone else’s beliefs, feelings and thoughts. Known as the theory of mind.(2021).

A free resource to help get you started: Struggling to find your next book? Try ‘what should I read next’. Enter a book you like and the site will analyse its huge database of real readers' favourite books to provide recommendations and suggestions for what to read next.


5) Disengagement - Reading fiction is effective for stress:

Your brain can’t operate at 100% 24/7. We all need separation to rest our minds and get back to peak .Tony Schwartz talks about this as one of the most overlooked elements of our lives: “Even the fastest racing car can’t win the race with at least one or two great pit stops. The same holds true for ourselves. If we don’t have “pit-stops” built into our days, there is now chance we can race at a high performance. And reading fiction is among the very best ways to get that disengaged rest” ("The Surprising Power of Reading Fiction: 9 Ways it Make Us Happier and More Creative", 2021). Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers (Dovey, 2021).

A free resource to help get you started: Did you know our public Library service offers over 33,300eBooks and 25,200 eAudio books, which incorporates a wide range of fiction titles. To register for free online click here


Business leaders like Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban and Elon Musk have long called out the benefits of reading. Buffet, spends most of his day reading and recommends reading 500 pages a day. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban says he reads more than three hours a day. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, says he learned to build rockets by reading books (Harvard, 2020).


Author and cognitive scientist Maryanne Wolf, argues that “the quality of our reading” stands as “an index to the quality of our thought" and if we want better thinkers in the business world, we have to build better readers (Harvard, 2020). When we read, we learn and in learning we grow in understanding ourselves as well as the world around us.


Irish Food Marketers who wish to become better thinkers, would be wise to invest their time reading more fiction. Why not check out the 3 free resources above to start reading more fiction today. Afterall, reading more fiction is the secret to better thinking!