Dear <<First Name>>,

A beautiful May week has passed, and it's time for the first Tolstoy Therapy Weekly newsletter. Catch up on this week's articles, including Part I of my Reading on the Brain series and a tale of how Chidiock Tichborne wrote his own elegy. Also, scroll down to find my pick of the best on the web, chosen this week from Better Living through Beowulf.

Wishing you a great week with plenty of reading time,

This Week's Articles

Facing Death With Poetry: How Chidiock Tichborne Wrote His Own Elegy
A Few Words on My Writing and Reading Schedule
Why Do We Enjoy Reading Fiction? (Fiction on the Brain, Part I)

Coming up on Tolstoy Therapy...

  • 10 ideas for when you're having trouble reading
  • On finishing Tolstoy's major works
  • Fiction on the Brain, Part II

Best of last week

Literary Larks: 3 Writers on Why We Should Wake Early
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry by Anthony and Ben Holden (and My Own Choice)
Tolstoy on the Importance of Books and Literacy in Prisons
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Article of the Week

Why Do We Enjoy Reading Fiction? (Fiction on the Brain, Part I)


Why do we enjoy reading fiction? It seems like a simple question to answer; a question that's not really worth asking at all, perhaps. However, Dr. Keith Oatley's fascinating 'Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction' doesn't leave such matters unturned.

I've explored Dr. Oatley's ideas before (here and in my ebook), and his superb interpretations of fiction and psychology couldn't be more interesting. Because of this, I've decided to write a series of articles - let's call it Fiction on the Brain - to explore the theories and research on the links between fiction and the brain.

Through my weekly instalments, I'll aim to make the psychology of reading as accessible as possible to you, touching on issues such as: how fiction can improve our social skills, why reading can be good for us, and how literature moves us emotionally.



The main reasons considered by Dr. Oatley include:
  1. Fiction is the natural transition from childhood play. Both play and fiction are activities that we can engage with and express wishes through.
  2. Exploration is in our genes, and fiction is a superb way to use these detective skills of ours.
  3. Our genes make play, and therefore reading fiction, enjoyable because they help us be interactive and manage our emotions.
  4. We do what we're good at, and we're naturally good at considering the perspectives of others and getting inside a new role.
Read an explanation of each of these reasons, alongside the full article, over on the blog.

Best of the web

This is the Way the World Ends by Robin Bates over on Better Living through Beowulf.

"'Some say the world will end in fire,/Some say in ice,' Robert Frost writes in his well known poem 'Fire and Ice.' After the terrifying news that Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is irreversibly sliding into the ocean, we can now say both predictions are correct: first hydrocarbons from burning fossil fuels heat up the earth and then melting ice raises the ocean level by four feet or more over the next 200 years..."

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