By Karla Webb

Woman reading outside

Picked up a good book lately? If you’re a healthcare content writer who’s producing copy all day, why should you find time to read after spending so much time hanging out with words?

So many reasons!

Of course, reading builds your vocabulary and knowledge base. If you research, write and edit healthcare content, reading goes along with that.

But what about fiction? Is it frivolous —  just for fun? Studies are proving what we book lovers have believed (or rationalized) all along. The benefits of reading fiction go well beyond plain old reading. Some say reading literary fiction can make you a better person — and a better healthcare content writer.

If getting absorbed in a novel is already your “guilty” pleasure — shed that guilt.

If you consider reading “made-up stories” a waste of time — wise up.

Enhanced empathy and other goodies for health writers

First, fiction can build your compassion and empathy for others. The reader has unique access to a character’s inner thoughts and motivations. You develop a deeper understanding of those that aren’t like you. Lots of studies demonstrate that fiction does this better than nonfiction. An analysis of this research by two University of Rochester psychologists concluded thatfiction reading has a small positive impact on social cognition.”

Fiction can literally (excuse the pun) increase your ability to know what another person is thinking or feeling in real life. That’s called “theory of mind.” Health providers with empathy deliver better care to patients. It’s not a big leap to think that empathic healthcare writers can deliver better content.

But wait, there’s more! Fiction consumers may also have better mental health — very helpful for producing good content. And reading a story can get you out of a writing rut.

Add literature to your life

Maybe you’re convinced that you’d benefit from more books, but you are too busy.

Consider starting with short stories. Every issue of the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly includes short fiction.

You don’t have to find time for a trip to your library. Just download your local library’s app and pick something that sounds interesting in ebook or audiobook format.

Sourcing good stories

If you’re not sure what to read, follow one of the many online celebrity book clubs. It’s not only Oprah these days. Reese Witherspoon, Jenna Bush Hager and Bill Gates have huge followings for their recommendations.

Even better, here are recent favorites from some of the WriterGirl team:

Christy Pretzinger

I’ve been into thrillers lately — I LOVED “Need to Know” and “The Perfect Nanny.” Of course, my all-time favorite is “Pillars of the Earth”.

Lyn Engle

“This is How it Always Is” by Laurie Frankel. It’s the story of a family’s journey with their transgender child. Mom’s a doctor, dad’s a writer and they have five sons. Or think they do. The author is a stellar writer — every character is beautifully developed.

Alice Churchill

I loved “A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. It’s so beautifully written and an engaging story. I cried here and there. Was sorry to say goodbye to the characters when I got to the end.

Elaine Zeinner

One of the best books I’ve read this year was “The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai. The story was amazing. The characters draw you in. And it has a little dash of a healthcare story (or lack thereof). It was an eye opener!

My own recent favorite was “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. I waited for the paperback, which took over two years. It was worth the wait for the beautiful language, historic setting and insights into the gentleman’s heart.

We’d love to hear your reading recommendations! Share them with us in the comments section below.

Find a compassionate healthcare content writer in WriterGirl

The writers, editors and project managers at WriterGirl are well-versed in empathetic healthcare content. We work closely with you to craft blog posts, webpage copy, CRM campaigns and marketing materials that fit your organization’s compassionate tone, so you can connect with more patients. Drop us a line if you’d like to learn more.