Reading has many health benefits, ranging from reducing stress to helping you sleep better at night, according to Piedmont. Spending time with books also increases vocabulary and memory function.

In addition to these benefits, studies suggest reading also helps increase “Theory of Mind.” Science describes this as “the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires and that these may differ from one’s own beliefs and desires.”

The journal PLOS One similarly published research showing literature’s ability to increase empathy.

But there’s a catch. The PLOS One study explained that empathy only increased when the reader was “emotionally transported into the story.” It added that experiencing “no (emotional) transportation led to lower empathy in both studies.”

Here are 10 books that make “emotional transportation” easy:

1. ‘A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories’

Author: Norman Maclean.

Publication date: 1976.

This is an autobiographical collection on Maclean’s experiences growing up in small-town Montana. Brad Pitt famously played Maclean’s younger brother, Paul, in the book’s 1992 film adaptation.

Author Annie Proulx wrote the foreword to this book and described the effect it had on her when she first read it in the late ‘80s. “There are few books that have the power to put the reader in such a deep trance that the real world falls utterly away. ‘A River Runs Through It’ has that power,” she wrote.

Notable quotation: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”

2. ‘When Breath Becomes Air’

Author: Paul Kalanithi.

Publication date: 2016.

This is an autobiographical memoir written by Kalanithi, attempting to answer, “What makes a life worth living?”

Goodreads describes the book this way: “At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated.”

Notable quotation: “There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.”

3. ‘The Only Plane in the Sky’

Author: Garrett Graff.

Publication date: 2019.

This book is a compilation of firsthand accounts of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Journalist Katie Couric called this book a must-read, saying it “had me turning each page with my heart in my throat. … There’s been a lot written about 9/11, but nothing like this. I urge you to read it,” per the Richland Library.

“Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, he paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet,” Simon and Schuster described.

Notable quotation: “We met when we were only 16, at a high school dance. When he died, we were 50. I remember how I didn’t want that day to end, terrible as it was. I didn’t want to go to sleep because as long as I was awake, it was still a day that I shared with Sean.” — Beverly Eckert

4. ‘Les Miserables’

Author: Victor Hugo.

Publication date: 1862.

Many people have seen the musical adaptation of Hugo’s most famous work, but there’s even more to explore in its nearly 1,500 pages than what can be told in several hours of film.

“Victor Hugo’s tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him,” Goodreads describes this classic’s plot. “But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat.”

Notable quotation: “What Is Love? I have met in the streets a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat worn, the water passed through his shoes and the stars through his soul.”

5. ‘The Brothers Karamazov’

Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Publication date: 1880.

Penguin Random House calls “The Brothers Karamazov” Dostoevsky’s greatest work, describing it as a “story of murder told with hair-raising intellectual clarity and a feeling for the human condition unsurpassed in world literature.”

Notable quotation: “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

6. ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’

Author: Zora Neale Hurston.

Publication date: 1937.

Toronto Metropolitan University describes “Their Eyes Were Watching God” as a story about Janie Crawford, who “recounts the story of her life as she journeys from a naive teenager to a woman in control of her destiny.”

Zora Neale Hurston’s website added that this story shows a woman’s “evolving selfhood through three marriages.”

Notable quotation: “If you kin see de light at daybreak, you don’t keer if you die at dusk. It’s so many people never seen de light at all.”

7. ‘Wonder’

Author: R.J. Palacio.

Publication date: 2012.

The Guardian reviewed this novel as “a brutally powerful story of a 10-year-old boy named August Pullman, who has a facial anomaly.”

Stephen Chbosky directed the film version of this novel in 2017, which went on to win the Satellite Humanitarian Award the next year, according to IMDb.

Notable quotation: “The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you.”

8. ‘The Fountainhead’

Author: Ayn Rand.

Publication date: 1943.

Ayn Rand addresses the question, “Is it possible to be an individual in today’s world?” in this novel centered on an architect who “struggles for the integrity of his creative work against every form of social opposition,” per Rand’s website.

Goodreads says, “This modern classic is the story of intransigent young architect Howard Roark, whose integrity was as unyielding as granite. ... As fresh today as it was then, Rand’s provocative novel presents one of the most challenging ideas in all of fiction — that man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress.”

Notable quotation: “To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul — would you understand why that’s much harder?”

9. ‘Beloved’

Author: Toni Morrison.

Publication date: 1987.

Morrison’s novel, “Beloved,” won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, and Goodreads describes the story as a “spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past.”

The Folio Society describes its plot: “At its daring, startling heart lies the image of infanticide; an act of paradoxical violence by which an escaped slave, Sethe, saves her child from a life like her own. Unnamed, the baby is buried in a grave marked ‘Beloved,’ but her time among the living has not drawn to an end.”

Notable quotation: “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”

10. ‘The Old Man and the Sea’

Author: Ernest Hemingway.

Publication date: 1952.

Author Abraham Verghese described the book this way: “The old man embodies the ambition and courage it takes to live, and the need to redeem yourself again and again in your own eyes. When at last after untold agonies you hook the prize, the achievement of a lifetime, the biggest (expletive) fish out there… it falls apart. The story is about the fact that life ends — a hard-to-ignore truth that we spend our days ignoring. All you have is the moment, this moment.”

Notable quotation: “It is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.”