Reading boosts empathy, but sympathy for the devil too

Research claims that reading fiction helps us understand other points of view, but history doesn’t always bear that out…


What about stories that denounce or deride empathy, that describe success and social order through sheer self-centredness (e.g. Ayn Rand)? And couldn’t empathy for the wicked lead us astray? Is it good for us to empathize with the hero of American Psycho? Isn’t this exactly what conservatives argue when they restrict high-school reading lists to the morally uplifting?