According to a study conducted by Kingston University, London, people who read a lot of books are far nicer, kinder and more empathetic than those who do not and than those who would rather be hooked on to television to beat boredom or to while away their time or to even gather knowledge. We all know reading is a wonderful engagement because this is what adds to our knowledge base, and we cannot afford to ignore the fact that all advanced economies are driven by knowledge imperatives – knowledge economies as they are known, with India too striving to be one. But what is interesting, as the report in question brings to the fore, is that people given to reading – a lot of reading regardless of the genre they are involved in – should have an increased level of kindness and compassion, or empathy, for others. And what is significant in all this is that when people are kind and compassionate, as they should be as the world’s most intelligent species, it is the index of happiness that gets a boost. As it is, kind and compassionate people, with motiveless love and affection driving them most, are a happier lot too, and thus a peaceful community as well. But this is what the world as of now is in huge deficit of.
The common perception, nonetheless, is that people who are into a lot of reading are loners and introverts, and, therefore, they are not as sociable as their counterparts are. The Kingston research has kicked that perception out. Instead, people who read a lot, especially fiction, have been found to be far more social. Those who read a lot of comedy have been found to be excellent in relating to other people, while romance and drama lovers have been found to be most empathetic and most skilled in seeing things through others’ eyes. Interestingly, in the book lovers versus TV watchers study, it has been found that book readers are on the top when it comes to empathy while those who mainly watch television actually display more antisocial behaviour. So what is the message for the younger generation especially, given to long hours before the television set either for recreation or for video games? Simple: Read, read, and read, because this is what is going to make you a better individual on earth, apart from you being capable of jumping from one knowledge base to another up.