How does Reading Fiction Help Us Cope up?
Literature and Mental Health
When we talk about literature or any form of art, we often forget to notice what impact it has on our mental health. Most of the time a poet, writers, and artists, have always been ridiculed or ignored as if they don’t have any importance in our society. But when a crisis occurs, the first thing we do is go back to them. Be it us in the form of a reader, a listener, or a keen watcher. An artist is as important to our world as a doctor is.
When it comes to literature (a form of art) and what it does to a person, it is completely a personal experience. When we read fiction, we often tend to live that life. We live through the narrative. We become the protagonist. We experience every single pain, agony, happiness the character feels.
Studies have shown that reading literary fiction improves the ability to understand the perspective, beliefs, and views from a different perspective. It also helps us to be more empathetic towards other people. Mentally we can be more flexible in accepting different kinds of people. It is a kind of escapism, a good kind, which removes you from your current state and puts you through a different journey. Reading fiction, in a way, is like preparing ourselves for the future.
A patient suffering from a mental health disease can cope with the help of literature. Although it isn’t easy as it sounds, at least they can attempt it by reading. To start with, choosing a relevant book will definitely help. There are several books related to mental health for different age groups.
Books For young adults:
- Normal People by Sally Rooney: This book deals with two young college-going students who find themselves strange from the rest of their friends and how they struggle to cope with that situation.
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: Here the author talks about how young people get into depression, bullying, suicide.
- Looking For Alaska by John Green: The author describes a really complex character named Alaska who again finds it very difficult to cope with her life.
Books for adults:
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: This classic tells why a person commits a crime. What goes behind a person who commits, and what made them do it in the first place? These and many other psychological questions are dealt with in this book.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: This story is about a girl’s journey of adulting by dealing with her insecurities, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and how she finally comes out of all these.
- Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig: How the protagonist deals with his guilty conscience throughout the story is represented in this book.
To name a few, the above listed are some books that might help a reader see life from a different perspective and understand things better. We may find characters similar to us and find out how they strive throughout to survive or maybe not. When we see life from a different perspective there is a chance of us being kinder and hopeful. On the other hand, we may as well find a solution to our problem. Either, we can try to learn from the characters or unlearn from them too.
Alternatively, we can also choose books which don’t always have to deal with the real situations of life. Books that are from a fantasy genre takes us to a different world altogether, a beautiful world, which is surrounded by happiness and positivity. These books let us think, life is not just about facing problems, but also about solving them or maybe moving on with them. There are innumerable options when it comes to genres from classic fiction to modern fiction, from crime to psychological, from romance to humorous. Choosing wisely is all it takes to experience an unknown journey with each book.
As Joseph Addison, a famous poet and playwright once said;
“Reading Is To The Mind, What Exercise Is To The Body”,
indeed it is true, ain’t it?