I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov

20131004-105848.jpgReading Chekhov for a few minutes makes you better at decoding what other people are feeling. But spending the same amount of time with a potboiler by Danielle Steel does not have the same effect, scientists reported Thursday.


Albert Wendland, director of a master’s program in writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University, said, “Frankly, I agree with the study.”

Dr. Wendland said that “reading sensitive and lengthy explorations of people’s lives, that kind of fiction is literally putting yourself into another person’s position.”

“Lives that could be more difficult, more complex, more than what you might be used to in popular fiction, it makes sense that they will find that, yeah, that can lead to more empathy and understanding of other lives,” he said. “Popular fiction is a way of dealing more with one’s own self maybe, with one’s own wants, desires, needs.”