Understanding Emotions Through Reading

I seriously believe I understand people better because I have spent so much time reading.  I have walked in the shoes of hundreds of characters.  How can one possibility come away from that experience without a broader understanding of people? I often find myself trying to see things from other people’s perspective.


I had a conversation with two people last week that made me realize how much reading has helped me. One person is a recent college graduate, let’s call her Catherine.  The other person is a middle aged single mom, let’s call her Molly.

Catherine was talking about how excited and nervous she is about her new job. She talked about how one intern experience made her rethink her major and even going to college, but she stuck to it in the end.

Molly, who went back to school 6 years ago, was struck by the emotions Catherine described.  Molly had felt the same way while going back to school. Molly was surprised that even though there is a significant age difference they would feel the same way.

I spoke up saying that of course they would feel the same way. In both instances they were/are making a major life decision!  As a college student myself, I have panicked and rethought my schooling more than once.

I was surprised that I, the youngest of the trio, would understand this better than someone twice my age! Upon later reflection, I realized that I read.  I have read countless stories about characters making life changing decisions, often way more drastic than a career choice/change.  (Seriously, doesn’t that describe every YA novel ever?)  These characters second guess themselves.  I automatically associated that emotion was something that comes with major life decisions regardless of age.

Of course, one could realize this without reading but I think books encourage this understanding.  I believe that my experience has been shaped through books. Not one or three books, but countless hours spent subconsciously trying to understand different characters’ emotions. 

Have you ever felt that you understand
something better because you read?
Was it emotion or something else?


About Rivka Ray

I am a book loving college student who never has enough time to read. I am also in love with all things Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

11 thoughts on “Understanding Emotions Through Reading

  1. Gabriela says:

    That is really interesting, but very true when you think about it. I believe that has happened to me at least once.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elisabeth says:

    The greater empathy for others experienced by readers is well know to psychologists! And yes, I’ve found that I understand people far better thanks to reading. Reading a broad array of stories by different people in different eras has also helped. You start to see the consistencies in human nature across time and space, getting a better feel for how people process things.

    I don’t remember the last time I honestly felt I couldn’t understand a person, actually. I might think that other person is wrong or being a fool, but very rarely do I find it impossible to grasp how they could come to a conclusion or make a decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rivka Ray says:

      Ooh, now I want to look up what psychologists say about it! Yes! I love reading books about different times and places, but the basic emotions exist in all of them :)

      That’s exactly how I feel! Most of the time I’m not even consciously aware that I am making that connection. Just one of the many reasons reading is awesome!


  3. M.K. Aneal says:

    So true!! handclaps
    I’ve done this countless times, in fact…
    I am actually considering into heading into the social work field now, and that is because I seem to feel the way other’s are feeling!
    That is great you were able to relate to your friends like that — brilliant work!! :D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rivka Ray says:

      That’s awesome M.K.! I really respect anyone who does social work! Don’t really think I could do it though because it would be too depressing. I’ve often thought of being a foster mom. :)

      Liked by 1 person

      • M.K. Aneal says:

        Aw, thanks!! :D
        Ah, gotcha. You know, that’s the one thing that worries me about the job, since I tend to take other’s problems on like my own… :\
        Ohhhs, that would be so terrific!! I know you would do great as a foster mom! It’s a tough job I’m sure, but what a change you could produce in the children’s lives!! :D

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rivka Ray says:

          Pray about it. If God wants you in social work, He will give you the strenght you need. Yeah, I do that too. Mom use to call me ET because of the way ET and Elliott would feel each other’s emotions.

          Aww, thanks :) I read a book last year written by a foster mom. It kinda scared me yet also made me want to do it more.

          Liked by 1 person

          • M.K. Aneal says:

            Aw, that’s the most brilliant advice one can get!! Agreed!! :D
            Thank you!! ((:
            Yes!! I’m so glad you know what I’m talking about; it can get heart aching. :\
            Aws!? That’s so very unique!! :D
            Most welcome!
            Oh, I bet that was interesting; what was it called?
            Aws, that’s great! I’ve always heard that the best way to know if something is for you, is to talk to someone who has done it themselves! (:

            Liked by 1 person

          • Rivka Ray says:

            You’re welcome :) You’re so sweet!!

            It’s called Another Place at the Table. I’ll recommend it to you on Goodreads :)


  4. bookscoffeeandkitkats says:

    So true! Never thought of reading that way before. Cool concept!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, I’ve felt that same!!

    Liked by 2 people

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