As an ice-breaker at a recent writing workshop, I asked attendees to discuss the novel they wish they had written. This was a fascinating exercise and helped focus our minds on what constitutes good writing. I firmly believe that the secret of being a good writer is to read widely and if you don’t love literature, you shouldn’t work in PR.
This has been backed up by Keith Oatley (writing in the New Scientist – subscription required) who asserts we should read novels, to be smarter (via Judy Gombita). Not only will reading novels stimulate our brains, but assist our story telling abilities, according to Olivia Mitchell.
Reading novels is also said to improve your interpersonal or social skills – another key requirement of the PR professional.
Businesses are also being encouraged to recommend reading to their staff in the “Adopt a Book” scheme that:
encourages businesses to choose a single book for all their employees to read. They buy copies at a discount from The Book People, and instigate reading groups and discussion, turning any old smoking rooms in the workplace into reading spaces.
I’m not sure that the latest book from prime minister Gordon Brown will be on many people’s list of must-reads when it is published next February. However, Ethan Musolini, CEO of Success Africa, believes “leaders are readers” and makes some suggestions of how to free up the time to read.
My house if full of novels and other reading matter – my preference being for reading in the bath. I also carry a book in my bag when travelling or attending meetings so that I can read whenever I’m kept waiting.
I’ve noticed a trend for graphic novels (popular with younger readers in particular) which may also have a benefit as it is claimed “kids that read graphic novels are usually reading regular novels anyway.”
I like to read real paper books, but appreciate there are now many websites, such as Read Book Online, where you can access a wide range of free novels via the Internet. You can also purchase books at eReader for a range of digital devices (I haven’t tried this for my itouch yet).
My CV includes a statement that I am a voracious reader of everything and anything. But I’m always open to new ideas. What novel would you suggest every PR person should read (my answer is Orwell’s 1984)? Is there a title that helped make you smarter (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night shows how you can see the world through someone else’s eyes)?
Do share your recommendations, please.