Reading literary fiction enhances "theory of mind".
Long live lit!
"Recently, a paper in the journal Science offered evidence that social skills are improved by reading fiction - specifically high-end stuff, the 19th-century Russians, the European modernists, the contemporary prestige names. The experiment found those who read extracts from literary novels, and then took tests measuring empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, did significantly better than other subjects who read serious nonfiction or genre fiction. Their basic finding was that reading literary fiction temporarily enhances what's known as theory of mind - the ability to imagine and understand the mental states of others."