The New York Times recently published a story about some neurological research that has been done lately on the effects reading has on our brains. It seems that the discriptive nature of fiction writing activates alot more areas of the brain than reading your average Facebook post.
For example, when you are reading words that describe a smell, like lavender, not only is the part of your brain that handles reading and language active, but the areas controlling smell are active too. The same goes for actions. Reading about throwing a ball activates different areas than readign about kicking one, just like performing those actions usees different parts of the brain.
It’s not jsut your senses and actions that have these effects either, social interaction within the story is also connected to the part of your brain that controls real life social interaction. There is even research showing that people who read alot of fiction are better at understanding and empathizing with others.
For more details, read the article Your Brain on Fiction by Annie Murphy Paul.