FFE Magazine

A chick-lit a day can keep doctors away

A Gothenburg University study has just likened chick-lit to medicine.

Work-life counselor Lena Mårtensson, who did work in the Gothenburg study with literature researcher Cecilia Pettersson, said ‘Reading fiction is a meaningful activity that women who are on sick leave decided to do by themselves, and it’s strengthened their ability to take part in everyday activities.’

The study was based on interviews of 8 women who took sick leaves ranging from 4 to 36 months. It revealed that they had the tendency to read light-hearted fiction like chick-lit or relationship dramas that mirrored their health problems.

Former Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) ombudsman Heli Kärkkäinen, 53, corroborated the find. She said she read her way out of depression when she found she couldn’t work full-time.

‘More superficial thrillers don’t demand a lot of concentration so I used them as a means of escape, but both self-help books and some chick-lit were means for me to recognize my own situation in the plot lines.

‘Literature is often a way to either experience things you haven’t experienced yourself, or to recognize yourself in.’

The researchers also found out that women used literature for many purposes. Some read to get themselves distracted from every day chores while some read to relate to the dilemmas in the plot. The chick-lit’s focus on relationships is part of the allure for women who were recovering from sickness.

Pettersson referred to this as ‘therapeutic reading’ where ‘It is common for the same women to read in different ways but at different times during her sick leave, and to feel that this influences their recovery in a good way.’

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