Reading novels boosts your empathy and tolerance for others

“Fiction might be the mind’s flight simulator,” Keith Oatley wrote in a new review of the research on reading and mental health, published Tuesday in Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Research into the psychological impact of literature suggests that when we read stories in which characters are rich and developed, we actually slip into those characters ourselves. By taking on these other personalities, we learn what it’s like to be someone else, and improve our own social skills.