According to neurological studies, the same regions of the brain are activated both by reading about an experience and directly undergoing it. In part because of these neural connections, regular readers demonstrate improved social perception and empathy. Reading may be especially valuable to young people in the development of social and emotional intelligence.
Bibliotherapists at the School of Life prescribe individualized book lists to their clients in order to harness these therapeutic and social benefits.
We have started to show how identification with fictional characters occurs, how literary art can improve social abilities, how it can move us emotionally, and can prompt changes of selfhood. (The New Yorker)