Mortimer Adler in his excellent book, How to Read a Book, says there are three reasons for reading: For entertainment, information, and to further knowledge. However, I have found that for me it is very difficult to separate the three into silos. Whenever I read for pleasure, I am always looking for lessons and that “one” great idea.
You can get ideas from novels if you hold it in the back of your mind that you are also looking for information, or to even further your knowledge. I read constantly, and I read from different genres, and I really love a good book.
When reading novels, make sure that some of them include characters that do what you do for a living, this increases the probability that you will get some ideas that will work for you, and it helps if the author writes well. While reading those books, look for:
- Ways to become irreplaceable in your job.
- Ideas to update your skills.
- Ways to get ahead of the crowd.
One great idea can make all the difference in your career.
So how does this work?
I came across Violet Miracle by Christina Li, which was a free e-book for the Kindle, and the story sounded interesting so I downloaded and read it. The main character is Violet Carsten, a writer who earns $1,000 from her Kindle books each month. That’s nothing novel about that because most of us know Amazon makes it very easy for anyone to upload content to sell for the Kindle. Where it gets interesting is when Violet mentions to a friend that her Aunty Mabel recommended that she also upload her digital content to TeachOutLoud, which allows her to create an audio of her books.
I have never heard of TeachOutLoud so that was new and useful information for me. What I thought was even more interesting is conducting interviews with her characters as blog posts. I do not write fiction, but I can see how fiction writers would find this information useful. Violet also mentions Smashwords which I already know about. The resources she mentions, which aids the way she does her work is seamless in the story. I am reading for entertainment, yet I am learning about tools that I can use.
What I also plan to do, is read other novels where the main character are writers, but the twist is the books have to be written at least 50 years ago because I want to discover old ideas that are transportable to today. If you work in a field that did not exist 50 years ago such as cyber-security, reframe what you do. If you stripped away the technology aspect of the job, what do you have left? What kinds of people looked for clues to solve a crime? Over 50 years ago, what kinds of people did sleuthing and investigative work? Read a novel with those kinds of characters. In this example – Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe, Cherry Ames, Jane Marple, Nancy Drew…. How did they perform their jobs? Is there something they did that you could add technology to, to give you an edge?
We are living in a very competitive environment. However, we do not have to worry about competing if we know how to create. One way to do that is to search contemporary and older books to find that one idea.
Please share a big idea that you gleaned from reading fiction.
How to Read a Book (A Touchstone book), Mortimer Adler
A Study in Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot Mysteries), Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot)
Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe Mysteries), Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe)
Murder She Said, Agatha Christie (Jane Marple)
Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse, Helen Wells (Cherry Ames)
The Secret of the Old Clock: 80th Anniversary Limited Edition (Nancy Drew), Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew)
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