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The Periscope

Curing Ignorance Through the Lens


The Empathy Library: Read Fiction, Exercise Empathy

 empathy

The empathy revolution is here, and it’s meeting in the library.

Empathy is known to improve social perception, increase emotional intelligence, and encourage generosity. Studies show that one of the best ways to develop empathy is by reading emotionally engaging literary fiction, which allows readers to step out of their own familiar life and temporarily inhabit a world of diverse cultures. The idea that empathy can be learned by attempting to understand the feelings and needs of others rather than simply sympathizing with their situation is what inspired author and philosopher Roman Krznaric to create the Empathy Library.

The library does not lend materials, but instead allows members to browse through book and film ratings, reviews, and themes in an effort to connect audiences to popular and relevant empathy-related material while deepening their understanding of unfamiliar worlds. By joining the online library, members have the opportunity to add their own items to the growing collection, rate or comment on existing items, and find helpful links regarding reading groups, film clubs, and other community organizations. The library is part of Krznaric’s “empathy revolution,” wherein the very structure of human relationships is reformed and improved through increased empathy.

In this video, Krznaric discusses the power of “outrospection” and the ways in which empathy is inherent in the very fabric of humanity.

Photo by Maya, licensed under Creative Commons.