According to studies done at York University and the University of Toronto, as reported in Time, people who read literature develop greater empathy for and understanding of other people. They are also better able to view situations from others' perspectives.
Studies also show that deep reading, which is slow, immersive reading without distractions, provides real exercise for the brain even as it enriches the capacity for empathy. A person engaging in deep reading often enters something akin to a hypnotic trance. Further studies find that the more young children are read to, the greater capacity they have for understanding other people's intentions.