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Why you must read fiction every month

Plus, international bestselling writer Karin Slaughter shares her picks for fit bodies with curious minds.

Athletes think they pick up the most knowledge from reading non-fiction but you actual reap health benefits from fiction (via escapism) as well. The reading of classic literature, for example, is linked with increased wellbeing. Researchers also note that fiction readers tend to score high on measures of ‘theory of mind,’ the ability to understand other people’s feelings and thoughts. Emory University study found that being enthralled by a novel helped people put themselves in someone else’s shoes and use their imagination in a similar fashion to visualization.

“Fiction elicits existential feelings of humanity and introduces us to deep characters, helping us to connect with the world outside the pages,” says Rhiannon Corcoran, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Liverpool who studies the impact of literature on the mind. “There’s lots of space in this area of research to look at how and why literature could actually help people psychologically,” she adds.

That’s why we’re bringing you this special edition of our high-performers’ book club. We asked international bestselling writer Karin Slaughter, author of the forthcoming novel The Good Daughter to share her picks, from gripping tales and page-turners to classic prose. Here, the reads that will take your mind elsewhere.

the ex by alafair burke

A Gone Girl and Girl on the Train-type suspense novel, The Ex follows a criminal defense lawyer who agrees to represent her ex-fiancé who she believes has been framed for murder. “I love stories about moral quandaries and Burke, a real-life hot-shot lawyer, law professor, and all around amazing writer, knows her stuff,” says Slaughter.
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slammerkin by emma donoghue

A young woman struggles to understand what lifestyle is more ‘free’: that of a prostitute or that of a servant who runs a household that’s not her own. “In 1760s London, a young woman is faced with selling out her dreams or selling herself to disastrous consequences,” says Slaughter.
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case histories by kate atkinson

When a private investigator starts looking into three seemingly unrelated cases years after the first has occurred, connections emerge. “This is the kind of storytelling that always reminds me why I love reading," says Slaughter. "It’s clever and cunning and darkly entertaining."
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mister sandman by barbara gowdy

Understanding the Canary family’s secrets starts with understanding their daughter Joan, who, after being dropped on her head as a child, doesn’t speak or grow (but plays the piano flawlessly). “Another book that makes you laugh out loud, then fear for the characters’ mental well-being, then wonder what on earth is in the author’s mind,” says Slaughter.
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the red hunter by lisa unger

In this multi-layered novel, two women with histories of trauma cross paths to confront their monsters in the same place. “I love it when authors can handle suspense as well as character development," says Slaughter. "This author does both so well that you forget that you’re reading and imagine you’re inside the story."
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night school by lee child

The protagonist of Child’s series of books is a retired military major who investigates dangerous and suspicious situations. This installment takes readers to a Jihadist sleeper cell in Germany that’s just received an unexpected visitor. “Fantastic. Classic Reacher. Lee knows exactly what he’s doing and I’ve never yet read one of his books where I didn’t race to the end,” says Slaughter.
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the good daughter by karin slaughter

When the Quinn family home is attacked, sisters Charlie and Samantha’s mother is left dead and their father, devastated. Twenty-eight years later, violence strikes again and “good daughter” Charlie, now a lawyer, is plunged into another nightmare. Packed with twists and turns, this read, out on August 22nd, is sure to be a page-turner.
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