Neil Gaiman may be the greatest living writer, and he makes a wonderful case for the importance of reading as an empathy-fostering, community-building force.
“And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. […] You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.
Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.
You’re also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this:
The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.”