Reading Books Boosts Your Empathy

By Joanne Blake | Books

Jun 29
The Lost Art of Reading Books

Why reading books makes you a good conversationalist and more empathetic.

P.S. and it can even help you find love.

Why books matter in a distracted time

We recently attended a fascinating lecture by David Ulin, former book critic of the Los Angeles Times and author of nine books including The Lost Art of Reading…Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time. Speaking on all aspects of books, writing and reading this was a fascinating evening. David was lively, entertaining, and not surprising, very well read. I couldn’t wait to read his latest book!

Reading books or eBooks

An audience member asked if he felt if there is a difference between reading a hard copy of a book versus reading eBooks on a device. David’s response was that it really didn’t matter. It depended on the person’s preference; the important thing was just to read!

This is where Terry and I differ

Many analytical people like my husband Terry like reading from a device as it allows them to quickly look up facts and definitions, word pronunciations and so on. Personally, I like the look and feel of the pages in a ‘real’ book especially when reading novels. When it comes to business books I’m not as fussy.

No time for reading books?

How many of you think you’re too busy to read? An interesting fact David shared is that the average person consumes the equivalent of a 300 page novel in a single day via emails, web sites, blogs, tweets etc. But this data dump is not the same as spending dedicated time to reading a book which demands concentrated attention and effort. As a result our attention span has become shorter which is not conducive to greater thinking and deeper thoughts.

Reading books is like oxygen to me

Reading to me is like oxygen; I can’t imagine my life without books. I consume them like candy, typically reading one, sometimes two a week. About half of them are business, etiquette and soft skills books and the rest are novels. I confess that occasionally I feel guilty reading novels because somewhere I got the idea that they’re frivolous and I should be spending my time on more important pursuits. But according to authorities like David Ulin, novels are essential, not only to our well-being, but to others as well.

David’s message on why reading books matters:

“The reason books and reading remain essential is because they are still the most effective mechanisms by which to crack open the universe. Think about it: when we read, we soul travel, in the sense that we join, or enter, the consciousness of another human. We empathize — we have to — because our experience is enlarged.”

Reading books makes you a better conversationalist

In our savvy networking seminars, to become good conversationalists, we encourage people to read books, newspapers, blogs etc. They give you lots of topics for conversation. Not only will you be a better conversationalist but if you find a fellow reader, you may find some other great books to read and make a new friend. That’s how Terry and I first met and connected at a party many years ago.

Reading books can help you find love

Yes, reading can even help you find a soul mate. That’s how it worked for us and I think it’s helped keep our relationship strong. Our love of reading books was a commonality we recognized from our first conversation. That’s not to say we always read the same books or share every genre. (Terry also enjoys science fiction and fantasy which is not really my cup of tea. Terry is very well read and if you’re interested in seeing some of the book he’s read, check out his long book list on Good Reads)

Reading books can make you a better human being

So take David Ulin and my advice and find the time to read a book. It may broaden your horizons, make you more empathetic to others, a better conversationalist and who knows maybe you’ll even find a soul mate.

Posted by Joanne Blake – avid reader and conversationalist

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About the Author

JOANNE BLAKE Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.