If you had a bucket list for this summer, chances are, reading a book for pleasure might have been on it.
Whether you managed to check that aspiration off the list or not, it reveals a bias that many of us have when it comes to thinking about books, especially fiction: They're great reality diversions we can leave behind once we get back to “real work.”
The truth is, reading fiction can be as valuable to your business as reading a business book. For busy entrepreneurs, taking the time to sit down with a great book, though, can certainly seem like an unwarranted indulgence. Yet there are some very real reasons it could benefit your business.
1. Inspires more creative thinking. There is nothing like intellectual diversion to help you come up with new unexpected ideas. Most of the best advice for thinking more creatively involves taking some time away from your biggest challenges. Distance inspires innovation.
2. See what you don’t know. The mark of intelligence is curiosity—and there is no better way to inspire yourself to learn than to read stories about things you have little knowledge about. Learning comes from embracing the unknown.
3. Refocus on priorities. Getting into a great story can help you disconnect from the trials of everyday life in your business—and give you a much needed perspective on what's really important to help you refocus your strategy.
All fiction, though, is not created equal. So where should you start? Here are three of my favorite works of fiction that could offer some great insights for you and your business in unexpected ways.
The Devil In The White City. While technically a non-fiction book, this bestselling true story by Erik Larson of crime and vision at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 reads like fiction and is one of my favorites. It's the story of how Daniel Burnham inspired competitive architects to work together in building the World’s Fair, which first introduced Shredded Wheat and popularized the AC standard for electricity. It has plenty of drama and interesting connections to the business world to keep you inspired.
Einstein’s Dreams. This work of fiction may have the unlikeliest author you can imagine: a theoretical physicist named Alan Lightman. However, the book has become a modern classic that has been translated into 30 languages. This short, poetic book looks at how Einstein might have imagined the nature of time. After reading it, you will never think of time (or the importance of timing) the same way again.
Chat Connect Crash Series. Some stories are far before their time, and this cybernovel series from writer Nan McCarthy is a perfect example of that. When I first read this book nearly 20 years ago, it introduced many then-unfamiliar acronyms and emoticons like LOL and ;-). The author recently rereleased the series for Kindle, and all three short books will get you thinking about how we communicate today and how to manage the real and virtual relationships you have in your own life.
Rohit Bhargava is founder of the Influential Marketing Group and the author of five best selling books on topics as wide ranging as the future of health care and why leaders never eat cauliflower. He has written several screenplays and poetry as well … and aspires to publish more works of fiction in addition to his business writing in the future.
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