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Guest blogger: Tamar Sloan

25 June 2017

Those of us who love to get lost in a novel, who have characters living in our head long after a book is finished, who celebrated the advent of the ereader because we could read Fifty Shades of Grey at work and no one was the wiser, recognise the title is true. We know, instinctively and intuitively, that we are a better person for being a book nerd.

But now psychology has proven it.

In the last decade or so, science has turned its lens to understanding literature’s importance to the human race. Considering story has been with us from the Aboriginal Dreamtime thousands of years ago, it’s stamped in the hieroglyphics of the pyramids and was carried in the beaded necklaces of the American Indians, they figured there had to be a reason. And what they’ve found is fascinating (and extremely validating).

What they’ve concluded is that story was, and continues to be, our first virtual reality. Just like it’s much safer for pilots to learn to fly in simulators, we get to learn the complicated lessons of life through the experience of others. Scientists and their love of MRIs have found that reading fiction taps into the same networks as real-life experience. When you get sucked into a story your brain is literally living vicariously through the characters at a neurobiological level. One study found that when someone read a sentence like ‘Johnny kicked the ball’ or ‘Sarah grasped the cup’ brain scans revealed that the specific parts of our grey matter linked to either kicking or grasping an object light up like Vegas.

So, it’s not surprising that reading fiction can improve a reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes. But what’s really cool for us lovers of the written word is that recent research has discovered that people who read score higher in empathy and understanding others. Yes, it literally makes you a better person! And when empathy is linked to prosocial behaviour and health benefits for the individual, it seems everyone wins when you pick up a book.

So, the science is in: the more you read, the more your empathy will grow. Which means I feel totally justified in turning up gritty eyed to work, wishing I drank coffee because ‘just one more chapter’ turned into ‘there’s only a hundred pages to go …’ It’s not poor self-control or an addictive personality (okay, maybe self-control got skipped in my DNA …), I’m doing this as part of a self-improvement strategy. I’m doing this because it benefits others!

And what better genre to lose ourselves in, to experience first-hand, than that of two people falling in love? Romance is the one genre where human relationships is at its core, where our strengths and our weaknesses are explored, where discovering life beyond our comfort zone has the ultimate reward. Which means you no longer have to call reading romance a ‘guilty pleasure’ or hide that steamy bare-chested cover—you’re actually reading this for your children, your grandchildren and for society as a whole.

A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy series. Her debut novel, Prophecy Awakened, is an epic story of a love that defies boundaries. When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush. Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related.

You can find Tamar here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Prophecy Awakened

On the first day of her new school all that shy, wounded Eden wants is to finish her senior year and escape to college. It can’t be too much to ask for, can it?

Noah has spent two years not knowing why he failed to come of age as every one of his ancestors has. Two years drifting aimlessly, searching for direction…

When the two meet the connection is instantaneous and undeniable. A connection that has Eden running and Noah burning to know more.

A connection destined to be the catalyst for a prophecy that neither knew existed.

A prophecy others are willing to kill for.

As families rupture and struggle to realign, as their hearts connect and ignite, Eden learns to trust. But with their love and life on the line, Eden must find the power to believe.

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One Comment
  1. 27 June 2017 12:44 am

    That is so fascinating Tamar. I love the empathy bit. I wonder if being absorbed in films and serials (no ads) can have the same affects? For example I’ve been watching Anne with an E (of Green Gables) and have been captivated by her and her new family’s plight. Jay.

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