Sharing Good Books: How Conversation Bridges Differences and Fosters Empathy
December 8, 2015 | Emily VanDette
From empirical studies on the psychological impact of reading to such philosophical perspectives as Martha Nussbaum’s notion of literature’s capacity to foster the “moral imagination” of readers, intellectuals across the disciplines have established a growing consensus about the power of reading to foster empathy, a crucial civic intelligence in a free society and a powerful aptitude for professional success and leadership skills. While a growing body of evidence reveals the incredible power of literary reading to promote imaginative empathy and intellectual curiosity, that potential may not be achieved through the reading experience alone, especially given inequalities in formal backgrounds and educational experiences at most workplaces (and in many communities).
My years of teaching have taught me that tried-and-true conversation is the most enduring method of bridging differences and sharing ideas, and conversations about books make the most of their capacity to enhance readers’ empathy.Read More