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Can a Book Make You a Better Person?

The Empathy Library recommends books and movies that evoke empathy.

Several recent studies have suggested that reading fiction can improve a person’s capacity for empathy, which gave Roman Krznaric, the author of “Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution,” an idea. Why not start an online library filled with books and movies that teach empathy to their readers and viewers?

Krznaric writes on the blog StartEmpathy.Org, “I wanted to create a place where anybody, anywhere in the world, could find the best resources for helping us escape from the narrow confines of our own experiences and enter the realities of different cultures, generations, and lives.”

So he launched the Empathy Library, where users can recommend and rate the books and movies that have moved them and caused them to empathize with other people. It isn’t actually a library where patrons can check out or download books and movies, but rather a resource for people to use if they want to find stories that can help develop empathy. Kznaric quotes British novelist Ian McEwan, who wrote, “Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality.”

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Source: StartEmpathy.Org

Jenny Shank is a fiction writer and journalist in Boulder, Colo. Her first novel, “The Ringer,” won the High Plains Book Award. Her stories, essays, satire and reviews have appeared in The Atlantic, McSweeney's and The Guardian.