The other day I was at a business networking event and I heard someone say: “I don’t read anything unless it’s going to help me improve myself or my business. That’s why I don’t read fiction”.
I almost fell over. The person went on to say: “I’m so busy running my business that I need to ensure I have a decent ROI (return on investment) if I’m going to commit to reading a book. That’s why I only read business books.”
Oh dear. I was actually speechless.
Look, I’m a big fan of business books. I devour them. But if I only read business books, I know that my life would be poorer for it. Significantly poorer – mentally AND financially.
Obviously, as founder and national director of the Australian Writers’ Centre, I’m a big fan of reading all genres, especially fiction. But THAT ASIDE, as a business owner, I know that ideas can come from anywhere – including fiction books.
Yes, you read that correctly. Brilliant business ideas can come from fiction books. They may not come from specific plot points or characters (although that can happen too). But when you expose yourself to someone else’s creative output, you start seeing different ways of doing things.
And getting your mind away from your business, even for short bursts, gives your subsconscious time to process the problem. Don’t be surprised if that break – or that exposure to a different mode of creativity – can be the catalyst towards a solution.
So what kind of fiction books should you read? The answer is different for everyone. If I was a literary snob, I would only recommend the critically acclaimed ones touted by the literati. But I’m not a literary snob. So my advice is: you should read whatever you find enjoyable.
If it’s a slog to get through a book, don’t persist. Just get another one. Trust me, there are a lot of books out there – and there are bound to be many you’ll find appealing.
But don’t expect that a bunch of new business ideas are going to start striking you from chapter one. Remember, that the impact of reading fiction has a subtler effect.
Read. Take it in. Let someone else’s creative output wash over you. Then don’t be surprised if this helps you to think differently, to approach problems with a new perspective, and to come up with surprising solutions you would have otherwise never considered.