Discussion: Does reading make you a better person?

Hi dear friends!

On this Thursday I come to you with a discussion topic inspired by something I heard on the radio this last Sunday.

Does reading make you a better person?

While I was eating breakfast last Sunday someone on the radio was talking about empathy . He cited several studies focusing on profiling empathetic persons and one of the main characteristics shared by empathetic people was reading!

It seems that reading books makes you empathize with others fellings. Of course I won’t speak here of reading non fiction books like mechanics, Computer 101 or baking books ….

Being a “character driven” reader I can easily understand why this would be true.

The books I love are the ones where the author makes me walk into the character’s shoes! I often say that I breathed, slept and ate what the character did. That I WAS he or she.

In other words: I was feeling empathy for him or her.

The best writers can even make me feel empathy for the villain! I will still know what he or she did was wrong but I will understand why and often pity him or commiserate.


Being empathetic is certainly something that could make you a better person as you’ll feel the others feelings and understand his emotions and reactions.


But reading also helps you to grow in other ways!

I love reading books about either taboo topics, either topics I feel prejudiced against, even unconsciously!

For example, reading gay and lesbian romance helped me to understand that it was not “only” sex but it as love too! I knew it on some level but I really realized it thanks to stories like Wolfsong by TJ Klune.

Reading about being muslim in the US after 9/11 also opened my eyes to what these people went through, what they faced and helped alleviate some unconscious fear of “the other” that these awful attacks had awoken in me! I have to thank A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi for opening my eyes!

The same could be said about that burning topic: immigration!

Many rulers devilize the migrants portraying them as a threat.

But when you think of it, who would abandon his country, sometimes leave his beloved ones behind and embark on a very dangerous travel to go in an unknown country without vital reasons? Some of the books that opened my eyes about this topic were: The radius of Us by Marie Marquardt, The Bride Test by Helen Hoang or Prayer to the Sea by Khaled Hosseini.

And I could go on and on about many different topics.


My point here is that yes, I think reading help me becoming a better person. Not only better educated but more accepting and loving.

Now do tell me: do you think reading help you to grow into a better person? What books inspired you or changed you? How?

Thanks for reading!


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38 Replies to “Discussion: Does reading make you a better person?”

  1. Mary @StackingMyBookShelves! says: Reply

    I totally think books help you grow. Think about it. They shape ways you look at people either good or bad, they make you think more about what you say. How you my feel in certain situations because you have maybe read something similar. They don’t make love unrealistic but make love seem like its more possible. I feel that books make you feel more empathy for people, give you different outlooks on peoples situations. There is no WAY that books don’t affect you in some way. With that being said the wrong type of books can affect people the same way. Think about that…


  2. I completely agree! Reading books can open your eyes to issues other people are going through that you may not have realized and they also help you empathize with other people. They can make you more tolerant and understanding of other people’s lives. <3 Great post!

  3. Love this post! I think reading helps to keep more open-minded – especially in my older years (lol!), but it also reminds me of things to hold important. It tends to keep me updated on the more youthful slang, styles, etc., and I always love learning anything new regarding travel. So, it does make me better I think… when I don’t forget to acknowledge the real world, haha!

  4. Great post!
    That’s neat about the link between being empathetic and reading. I’m very empathetic… and a voracious reader. And 99% of the time, I sympathise with the villian. Sometimes more than the hero. Kite Runner was one eye opening book for me. I know there are others but my poor memory cannot dredge up any. :/

  5. Great post, Sophie. Reading is my entertainment and my escapism. My limited genre addiction may seem to some as having less educational value, however, the writer that I love all create characters, worlds and situations that are plain to see in real life. They’re just wrapped in a fantasy guise.

  6. I think that reading can definitely change you and it probably does make you much more empathetic… I’m in the camp of people though who don’t read to broaden my horizons or to educate myself (that sounds terrible, doesn’t it? lol) I just read to be entertained. Learning new things, looking at things from a different perspective or becoming a better person are just happy by-products of that.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      No no that does not sound terrible Nicci!!! And the rest being a by product is only added benefit!

  7. I love reading because characters suck me in and make me see their POV. Even ones that are rotten or selfish are fascinating and helps me see people in a better light. ❤️

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Yes the villain’s POV are often the most interesting because we wonder if someone is born a villain or made into a villain! And if so do they deserve redemption?

  8. I absolutely agree, there’s so much that books offer, I often say that some of my favorite books are like my best friends. I can return to them over and over and feel CONNECTED! Great topic Sophie! Hope you are doing well my friend! 🙂

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Connected is a perfect word for the feelings Trisy! And I could be worse so let’s say that yes I am privileged 😉

  9. I have seen article, which support the idea that reading makes you more empathetic. My number one reason for reading is for entertainment, but I also will choose many books written by people, who have different experiences and perspectives from me, because I now it will help me see things differently, and I might learn something along the way.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I agree with you Sam! My first goal is to evade and have fun but empathy comes with the experience!

      1. I must have been on something when I wrote that comment, because there are some serious grammatical errors. Glad you were able to decipher it. *laughing*

  10. I too think reading makes us better people. I would be lost without books. Great topic, Sophie!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you Laura!

  11. Great post, Sophie. Reading not only gives us views into other lives, cultures, etc, but also educates us. Too many benefits to name!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly Teri the list would be nearly endless!

  12. Reading has definitely made me a better person. I’ve learned so much about the world and other people through books. I think books have made me more forgiving and less selfish. I know that everybody is fighting their own battle, and sometimes I need to be patient with others.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      We become wiser AJ! But then maybe it has to do with growing up too LOL

  13. I completely agree that reading makes us better people. Not everyone has the opportunity to experience what other people do, and it’s only through books that we can truly learn what it’s like.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Yes we gather experience even if we don’t experience it first hand!

  14. I’m in complete agreement with you! Reading broadens your horizons, and opens your minds to thoughts, ideas and stories that we wouldn’t otherwise consider. I think first person stories in particular are really important for kids and YAs to read. They help a young reader put themselves in someone else’s shoes and realize that there are others out there living very different lives from very different backgrounds – but they’re still people too and deserving of respect.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      What you are pointing out is important bentley: first person’s stories! That’s true that being narrated through the hero’s eyes has more impact and would better help feeling empathy for the hero!

  15. Wow I have never thought of this before but I guess it’s right. When I read I always seem to put myself in the characters shoes…..and I hope it makes me a better person!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I am convinced of it Caro!

  16. I don’t read to be educated – I read for pure pleasure and entertainment. But, regardless of my reasons why I read, I think learning and having our horizons broadened is simply a byproduct of reading. As well as becoming more empathetic. The more we read the more we understand that we are all more alike than different, and that (hopefully) opens the door to empathy. I’ve been given a glimpse into so many lives unlike my own over the years and I like to think it’s made me even more accepting, understanding and empathetic.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I also read to be entertained and evade Tanya but a side effect has been the empathy, the knowledge, the compassion and a better understanding.

  17. Lord of the Rings taught me a lot about what true love is: selfless and sacrificial, and what lengths people are willing to go to remain faithful to that love and friendship. Hope your husband is doing better. Been praying!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Lord of the Ring is epic Anne Marie! But honestly it took me three times to finish the book as there were many descriptions in the beginning and the pace was slow for 100 pages!

  18. Of course !! I agree whole heartedly with you

  19. Reading does make you a better person both in terms of personality and wisdom. The knowledge that you get by reading more and more is second only to the experience that you can have first hand.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly Dhawal! You said it perfectly: only second to first hand experience!

  20. I agree, Sophie. Reading gives us perspectives on culture, religion, freedom of choice and so much more. It can teach humility and humanity if we pay attention <3

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly Jacqueline! We only have to pay attention 😉

  21. I wholeheartedly agree that reading can make us more empathetic and teach us, if we’re willing to learn. Learn about people, cultures and places, through reading. On the flip side, I have come across people who read, and read a lot, that simply don’t take it in. To me, they’re an alien species I really don’t get. Because, since I could read from the age of 3-4, I’ve read to learn and to escape and to go on adventures, and so much more. They’ll be burying me with a book in my hand, and you, Sophie? 😀

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Me too Alexandra!! Dedicated till the end LOL

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