Katniss, Tris, and Frodo Make You Smarter

Jane Austen Quote Pride and Prejudice No Pleasure in a Good Novel Digital Download for Iron on Transfer Fabric Pillow Tea Towel DT539. $1.00, via Etsy.:

I don’t like calling people stupid, but…  😉

I can’t help but love this quote.  Reading books may seem like nothing but a hobby or that thing that socially awkward people do (don’t act all cool and try to pretend that you aren’t…I see right through that act 😉 ), but reading is actually making you smarter.

I don’t just mean if you read biographies and encyclopedias for fun.  Reading plain old fiction makes you smarter too.  (Wait, did I just call fiction plain?  Please forgive me.)

(Can’t resist me now can you?  Silly…that isn’t even me.  It’s my sister.)

Here’s how it works.

Have you ever read a book where you were so enthralled with the story that you felt like everything was happening to you?  You were  shooting arrows with Katniss, jumping trains with Tris, and throwing the ring into Mount Doom with Frodo.

Reason: your brain actually believes that you have experienced it.

When we read, our brain does not make a real distinction between reading about an experience and actually living it. Whether reading or experiencing it, the same neurological regions are stimulated.

Of course there is some part of our brain that recognizes that this is not actually happening to us.  Otherwise, we would all be terrified to read. I mean, do we actually want to live through the Hunger Games?

(Skipping second breakfast is enough hunger for me. I bet you can guess which fandom world I decided to go in.)

But the point is,  there is a huge part of us that experiences the story in the same way the characters do. Their heart is beating, our heart speeds up.  They get in an argument.  We stand up for them in our head (or out loud…I won’t judge).  They lose someone they love.  We cry.

Lets face it. These stories are real to us.

But how does thinking things are real that aren’t real make us smarter?  Isn’t that called schizophrenia?

Stories makes us smarter because we can experience things through fiction that we never could in our own lives, giving us a vast amount of knowledge we wouldn’t otherwise have. Through stories we learn that sometimes we have to sacrifice ourselves for those we love (Katniss), sometimes we have to do what we think is right for our lives even if everyone is against it (Tris), and sometimes even the smallest of us can do things that change the world (Frodo).

Fiction teaches us that if we work together we can accomplish great things.  It  shows us that love is greater than wealth and forgiveness better than revenge.  It inspirers us to be better people and do greater things.

Without books and the characters in them, we would be close-minded little people who trudge through our daily lives never able to grasp concepts like hope, love, faithfulness, compassion, and sacrifice.

Stories call us to be better people and help us understand the world a little better.  Most of all, it teaches us to be empathetic towards others.

Being “smart” can mean a lot of things, but the most important thing you can spend brain power on is understanding and helping other people.

So if you’re reading (or writing) a book right now, I’d say you’re pretty smart.  🙂

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22 thoughts on “Katniss, Tris, and Frodo Make You Smarter

    1. Me too! I understand not everyone is going to like every genre, but I think that everyone can enjoy reading. They just haven’t found the right kind of book. I can’t understand why they don’t give it a chance. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly the reason I love series! Just because I finish the book doesn’t mean the adventure is over. It means I can postpone the “book blues” that comes after finishing a good book. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL – many times I will re-read a series. I am doing that right now with the Lizzy Gardner series by T.R. Ragan. She came out with the last book in this series, so I thought I’d start from the beginning before reading the final one. There are many books on my Christmas list that are the next in a series. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have to re-read series before reading the final book too. Normally I won’t even read a series before knowing that all the books are out because I simply have to read them all together. I can’t wait a whole year for the next one to come out! 🙂
        But sometimes authors will trick me. 😛 Like The Inheritance Cycle…it was only supposed to be three books. Imagine my surprise when I finished the third book and found out that I had to wait for a FOURTH book.
        Yeah, I had to read the whole series again before reading the last book. 🙂

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  1. “When we read, our brain does not make a real distinction between reading about an experience and actually living it. ” — this is true of writing too. I live what my characters are experiencing when I write about them but then, I have full color and sound interrupted by the furious clatter of keys as I type. Maybe I’m just strange 😉

    I love your post. I just shared it with my friend who I know will love it too.

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    1. I think so too. Probably why so many avid readers also enjoy writing. It is such a similar experience. The places and people in our stories are real to us.
      There’s just something magical about writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I never knew that the brain processed experiences in books in the same regions as if it actually happened. That would explain why books can draw such intense emotions out of people. Sometimes I even feel tired after reading a really intense section because my body and mind were so tense and anxious during it! Reading is really the best; I don’t believe that anyone can honestly say they don’t like reading. If they do, they haven’t read enough!

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    1. It’s really cool isn’t it? Suddenly it makes sense why we feel for the characters so intently. I’ve noticed myself getting tense during intense scenes too!
      I think everyone likes to read. They just haven’t come across the right type of book yet. There is a genre or author out there for everyone. They just have to find it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I laughed out loud when I read about your sister. And, yes, I’d rather live in the world with second breakfasts, too. And the quotation by Austen is just right, especially given that Austen lived and wrote in a time when the novel was not respected. The lessons we learn from fiction are real. Our reactions tell us that. And they are real because we are. I’d risk schizophrenia in order to continue learning from fiction. And from creative writing, overall. Thanks for such deep and detailed insight about all this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love it when the world around me fades away and I become the character I’m reading about. It’s so much fun, and I learn thing.
      Couldn’t agree more…I love fiction that draws me inside them.

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      1. It would be so fun to visit some fantasy realms for a few days…It would probably make me miss certain things about my everyday life though…I mean, at least I don’t have to worry about dragons coming after me or anything. 🙂

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