Byron's Babbles

Adding Fiction To The Reading Diet

Posted in Bad Blood, Bibliophile, Educational Leadership, Global Education, Global Leadership, Leadership, The Warehouse by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 19, 2020

I love to read and I am a bibliophile. It is very typical for me to read between 115-130 books a year. My preferred genre tends to be historical/biographical books. Additionally, I read a great number of leadership books. I love it when someone gives me a personal recommendation of a book that they believe will help me grow. For example when traveling (I know it’s hard to remember what that is) back in January I had some new made friends highly suggest reading Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou.

First of all the book was great, but I also learned so much and even found many parallels to other interactions I was having with others in my professional life. That book made me more aware of things going on around me and a better leader. In fact, that book inspired two of my blog posts: Passion At Ambition’s Command and When Purpose & Passion Turn Into Ambition.

Another recommendation that I finally heeded from someone who I consider a mentor was to read more fiction. So, ok, I only read one fiction novel last year, but that was one more than the year before. Don’t judge! I’m making progress. I do have one picked to start in 2021, too. The one I picked this year was awesome; The Warehouse by Rob Hart. It was an incredible book and I believe I grew professionally and personally as a result of reading it. Here are the resulting blog posts:

Why read fiction? Because novelists develop and fully describe the inner life of the characters as imagined. Think about it; take any real person and we cannot know everything. But, a made up character, we can. It’s like a made up case study. That’s what made The Warehouse so thought provoking for me; the competing values, competing obligations, and competing responsibilities.

Some reviews of The Warehouse say it is a peek into the future. Actually, I would argue some of it is already here. More importantly, however, the book gives us a chance to wrestle with ethical complexities. As President Truman so aptly pointed out: leadership is nuanced. With non-fiction it is hard to get the nuances. Sometimes when reading non-fiction I say, “Has the person writing this ever really been in this situation?” Usually, the answer is no. With fiction, the nuances are created and revealed. The reader has to work the complexities and competing pieces out for themselves.

I’ve also read that reading fiction brings about increased social acuity and a sharper ability to comprehend other people’s motivations. Both important traits for a leader to be honing. So, as I consider my “to read” library for next year I will be considering more fiction. How about you?

PS: some of you might be wondering what fiction book I’ve already picked to start in 2021. It is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. This book was named the winner of the fiction genre of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2020.

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