The theory is that when we can relate to characters in books, we learn more about how to relate to others in real life. The study examined readers of both fiction and nonfiction. They found the empathy scores higher in fiction readers than in nonfiction readers. Before you start poking holes in this theory, remember it’s a theory. Nonetheless I began thinking about what kind of reader I am. Why do I read and what do I enjoy reading?
1. Do you read nonfiction exclusively? And, in fact, tell your friends that you would never read fiction.
2. Do you read mostly nonfiction but when you’re at the beach or in an airplane, you read fiction. In fact you like to pick up a fiction book after you’ve finished a particularly intense nonfiction read.
3. Do you read primarily fiction and rarely pick up a book of nonfiction? The only nonfiction you might venture to read are memoirs or perhaps a self-help book.
4. Do you engage in reading both nonfiction and fiction equally and rarely think about reading or not reading one of the other. You hear about a book that someone else enjoyed and you read it. You don’t say to yourself, well, that’s fiction or that’s nonfiction, I won’t read that.
5. Are you primarily a genre reader of fiction? Do you read romance, horror, YA, mystery, erotica versus the broader fiction categories that comprise literary fiction?
6. Do you mostly read biography as your nonfiction genre? You love reading about people and what made them who they are. You’d prefer a book about a person’s life instead of a book about the mechanics of physics or the nature of the human genome.
7. Do you read all kinds of nonfiction–your goal is to learn something in-depth. You often select a series of books that will teach you something new and interesting. You love reading about the details.
8. Are you an historical reader of both historical fiction or events in history that are nonfiction? History turns you on?
9. Do you read fiction that enables you to escape into another world such as science-fiction or fantasy? You enjoy losing yourself in the world view created by the author.
Whether you answered yes or no to the questions gives you an idea of what kind of reader you are. The two distinguishing factors are education and pleasure. In other words do you read for eduction primarily or for pleasure primarily or for both.
If you answered yes to questions: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 you primarily read for education. You are interested in all kinds of education, history, what makes people tick, and much more.
If you answered yes to questions: 3, 5, 9, you primarily read for pleasure. You may or may not read genre fiction, but you are less interested in learning than you are in “relaxing with a good book.”
If you answered yes to a mixture of 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 and/or you answered yes to 4, you tend to read for both education and pleasure. You tend to be an eclectic reader.