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Reading Develops Empathy


Book Cover for The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka


We know that the act of reading develops empathy. Engaging with stories allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of others and relate to characters that may have lives vastly different from our own.


I recently read Julie Otsuka's novel, The Swimmers. The Swimmers focuses on Alice, a senior citizen who has been diagnosed with a form of dementia. Alice finds solace in the routine of swimming at her local pool, where she interacts with fellow swimmers from different walks of life. The story has a subtle, quiet start, as we learn about the people who frequent the pool and their routines. It ends with a switch to a second person narrative, where the reader is placed directly into Alice's body. It's beautiful, heartbreaking, and deeply affecting.


Due to the book not having a strong root in a particular place ( beyond a swimming pool) it will not be included in a Literary Road Trip Box. However, I wanted to share it with you, because it encapsulates what I love so much about books, that sense of empathy.


Even if you have never faced dementia or cared for a loved one with the disease, Otsuka has written a story that allows the reader to experience multiple aspects of Alice's situation. It's a story that examines the life cycle as a whole; ones personal choices and how a person close to death can examine the way they lived their life. It's a beautiful story. Bring tissues.


The Swimmers came out in paperback a few months ago and is available at your favorite independent bookstore or library!


2 Comments


Thank you, dear friend! I will definitely include this in my must read list 💕

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Please do and let me know your thoughts on it.

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