Reading a great book is not just an indulgence. Increasing evidence highlights the mental benefits of getting lost in a book. Harry Potter deserves a special mention. Research suggests that tales of the young wizard engender empathy. Children who read Harry Potter seem to be less prejudiced towards minority groups and to have more open minds:
Literature with complex, developed themes and characters appears to let readers occupy or adopt perspectives they might otherwise not consider; and it seems that Rowling might get at the beautiful, sobering mess of life in a way that could have a meaningful impact on our children’s collective character.
Harry Potter is an excellent role model and research shows that thinking about fictional characters you love can help you make better decisions. Psychology writer Eric Barker suggests asking, “What would Harry Potter do?” when confronted with a moral dilemma.
In addition to inspiring ethical decision-making, there is reason to believe that reading books like Harry Potter boost creativity. In Originals, Adam Grant points out that highly creative people often cite works of fiction as sources of inspiration and fuel for originality:
Growing up, many originals find their first role models in their most beloved novels, where protagonists exercise their creativity in pursuit of unique accomplishments. Elon Musk and Peter Thiel each chose Lord of the Rings, the epic tale of a hobbit’s adventures to destroy a dangerous ring of power. Sheryl Sandberg and Jeff Bezos both favored A Wrinkle in Time, in which a young girl learns to bend the laws of physics and travel through time. Mark Zuckerberg was partial to Ender’s Game, where it’s up to a group of kids to save the planet from an alien attack.
The great thing about fictional stories is how they stretch the imagination. They make the impossible possible. They inspire dreams of possibility. They enable us to see past, the here and now and to dream of a better world.
Curling up with a great book may seem the ultimate luxury. It is high time to think of it as a necessity.
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.
I wish you all the best,
Dr. Samantha Boardman