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What is the importance of literature?

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Quick Answer

Literature is important for many reasons, including its ability to provide pleasure to readers, to help build experience, to help readers empathize with others and to develop thinking skills. While literature's educational importance is often downplayed in favor of business and technical education, the study of books offers many positive benefits to readers.

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What is the importance of literature?
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Reading literature is a pleasurable, entertaining activity that offers readers the potential to escape from the troubles of daily life. Above all else, literature survives because of its capacity to entertain readers. Literature also has the power to provoke thought in readers, making it a leisure activity that is also intellectually productive. Literature also has the power to impart a wide variety of experiences to readers. A story can expose readers to different places, time periods, viewpoints and cultures. Readers can gain experiences through literature they would never have access to in ordinary life. Literature's ability to capture the imagination and depict the lives of others also increases readers' ability to empathize with others. A study published in the journal Science found that readers of literary fiction demonstrated an increased ability to infer other people's thoughts and emotions. Finally, literature helps develop critical-thinking skills. Readings and discussions of literature force readers to make reasoned judgments about character motivations, cause and effect, critical analysis of plot and more.

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