字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント - So I like to think that I read a lot of books, but actually the majority of what I read is fiction rather than kinda useful productivity books. So I always have a fantasy series going on Audible, these days the "Wheel of Time" series, and I've also got some sort of paranormal romance type genre book on Kindle that I read before bed, these days "A Court of Thorn and Roses." But as a self-professed productivity grease monkey, I've often wondered, is reading fiction a waste of time, or is it actually good for you? I feel bad about watching TV or playing video games because it feels like a waste of time, but I would easily stay up until four o'clock in the morning reading about some werewolf and how he's fallen in love with this girl with psychic powers. - Stranger things happen every day. - Clearly that's not productive either, but for some reason reading feels more legit than watching TV. So in this episode of "Journal Club," the series where we look at scientific papers to find some important insights, we're analyzing whether reading fiction is good for you and therefore whether I'm allowed to continue reading this sort of trash or if I should donate my multiple signed copies of "Twilight" to a children's library. American author Ann Patchett famously said, "Reading fiction gives us the ability to feel empathy for people we've never met, living lives we couldn't possibly experience for ourselves, because the book puts us inside the character's skin." Now, I'm gonna be honest. So I'm a doctor, in case you didn't know, but to get into med school I had to convince a bunch of people that somehow empathy was one of my strongest character traits. But between you and me, I've always kinda struggled to relate to people when it comes to the realm of negative emotions. I'm a pretty happy and privileged guy in general, and so if someone else is feeling stressed or angry or sad, I often find it hard to really kind of appreciate where they're coming from. The good news is that apparently reading fiction helps with social cognition and empathy. So we've got this meta-analysis from 2018 that looked at 14 different studies all around this link between empathy and fiction, and they found that, "Compared to nonfiction reading or no reading, fiction reading leads to a small, statistically significant improvement in social-cognitive performance," which is exactly what I need in my life. There's even some evidence that reading fiction helps reduce our prejudice and bias, which is particularly important in these sorts of times. This study from 2014, for example, said that, "Reading narrative fiction appears to ameliorate biased categorical and emotional perception of mixed-race individuals." And in fact, my own first real understanding of racism as a thing came from reading Malorie Blackman's incredible "Noughts & Crosses" series when I was like 11 years old. Okay, so we've established that I should continue reading fiction to help boost my empathy, but there's even some evidence that reading fiction helps boost our cognitive brainpower or performance from a very young age. This study, for example, conducted by the the website testyourvocab.com, found that reading builds our vocabulary, which is pretty obvious, but they also discovered that those who read fiction in particular had a much more varied and deeper vocabulary than those who read nonfiction books. So reading fiction expands our vernacular more than reading nonfiction does. But we've also got some studies that show using functional MRI scanning that different parts of our brain light up when we're reading different sorts of fiction. We've got this study from 2013, for example, that shows that when we read fiction, we get the lighting up of our left temporal cortex, which is the bit of the brain that deals with language. That's not hugely surprising, but this study from Spain showed that if you read words like lavender, perfume, and coffee, that reading those words lights up the smell regions of the brain, which is kinda cool. And we've got this study from France that shows that if you read about different motor activities, it lights up different parts of the motor cortex. So "Ali threw the cat" (cat meows) would light up a different part of the brain than "Ali kicked the cat" (cat meows) because they're two kinda different actions, and that's kinda cool as well. So does that show that reading fiction is good for us? Well, no, not directly, but it does show that when we read, we're also lighting up different parts of our brain other than just the bits of the brain that process language. Okay, so we've established that reading fiction is good for empathy, and it's good for language development, but did you know reading fiction is also good for health in general? This study from the University of Sussex in the U.K., for example, showed that reading fiction is better for reducing stress levels than going for a walk, listening to music, or playing video games. They said in the paper that, "Reading for as little as six minutes is sufficient to reduce stress levels by 60%, slowing heart beat, easing muscle tension and altering the state of mind," whatever that means. And in the same study, they also showed that reading before bed helps improve the quality of sleep, so that's another plus point for reading. So that was in the short term, but there is some evidence that reading over the long term helps reduce our cognitive decline as we age and might potentially even slow down the development of disorders like dementia and Alzheimer's disease. This study from 2011, for example, says that, "Being engaged in more reading and hobby activities and spending more time each week reading is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incident dementia." Now, again, this is just a correlation, not a causation, but it's kinda cool. And in fact we've even got an NHS page that answers the question of whether lifelong reading could protect against dementia. It says on the page that although these studies "cannot provide conclusive proof that greater cognitive activity directly prevents development of mild cognitive impairments or diagnoses of dementia," it does accept that regular reading could be helpful, and it recommends to pick up a library card or, in my case, a Kindle and Audible subscription. Not sponsored. Link in the video description. So what does all this mean for my own reading habits? Well, I don't know. To be honest, I read for enjoyment anyway, and when I'm reading fiction, I'm not actively trying to be productive. But I do like it when the stuff that I do for fun also has some of benefit over the long run. So who knows? Maybe I'll pick up a PlayStation and start playing some video games and do a video about that, about whether video games are good for you. I'm sure they are in some way. And I think really the key is that just having a balance. Obviously if the only thing I did in my life was read fiction, I'd never get anything else done, but I think reading fiction and listening to fantasy audiobooks on Audible does help me wind down. It helps me relax, which means I can be a productivity grease monkey for the rest of my life. If you liked this video, click here to check out the "Book Club" series. That's a little playlist of videos where I talk about insights from popular nonfiction books. And if you wanna read fiction, then I'd really recommend you check out some fantasy books, and here is a video with my three favorite fantasy series of all time that you should definitely check out. Thanks for watching, and see you in the next video. Bye bye.