Gini Dietrich

Reading Fiction Helps Your Career

By: Gini Dietrich | January 17, 2012 | 
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I’m an English major. Not as in the language, but as in literature and creative writing.

I preface with that because what I’m about to say may come across as biased.

Read. More. Fiction.

As it turns out, though, I’m not biased (well, maybe a little bit). In the November issue of Scientific American, author and researcher Keith Oatley describes what reading fiction does for our minds and souls.

  1. Reading stories can fine-tune your social skills by helping you better understand other human beings.
  2. Entering imagined worlds builds empathy and improves your ability to take another person’s point of view.
  3. A love affair with narrative may gradually alter your personality—in some cases, making you more open to new experiences and more socially aware.

You can’t read the entire article unless you subscribe, but that’s the gist of what it says.

I run a PR firm so, of course, it makes sense for us to require our team read everything from news and blogs to fiction and poetry. And it’s one of the questions we ask during interviews.

Hearing what kinds of books people read (is it Steven King or Ayn Rand?) tells us a lot about what kind of person they are and, better, what kind of writing they’ll be able to do for us.

But you don’t have to be in a creative field for reading fiction to make business sense.

During the past decade or so, Oatley and other academic researchers have shown how reading fiction helps a person better understand real human emotion, which improves social skills.

In one of Oatley’s studies, 94 respondents were asked to guess the emotion of a person by looking at a photograph of their eyes. They discovered,

The more fiction people [had] read, the better they were at perceiving emotion in the eyes, and…correctly interpreting social cues.

As well, they tested 252 people on the theory that the big five personality traits – extroversion, emotional stability, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness – could be affected by reading novels. Once again they discovered,

A significant relation between the amount of fiction people read and their empathic and theory-of-mind abilities.

But it’s not just about social skills with your team. It also affects the bottom line. The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence shows how teaching employees to focus on their work and not simply just getting the job done cuts down on grievances, mistakes, and even safety issues.

Emotional intelligence is forged in many ways, including fiction reading. Just like anything else, we have to work our minds…for leadership skills, for managing profits, and for working better with our human capital.

Next time you go to pick up a business publication or haggle through your email, at the end of a long day, think about reading some fiction instead. Not only will it give you some time away from work, it will help you at work.

This first appeared in my weekly Crain’s column.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Now I’m glad I’ve been addicted to fiction since I was a kid and that my parents cultivated reading in our home. I’d even go beyond this and say this stresses the importance of living a well-rounded life with varied interests. I’ve met quite a few people who go out of their way to tell me that they only read business books, as if it’s a badge of honor. Perhaps this is the new version of the nose in the air pronouncement “I only watch PBS and listen to NPR”.

    It’s so important to have wide and varied interests. I love talking to people and finding out things about them that just don’t make sense based on what I know about them, because it means they are multi-dimensional.

    • ginidietrich

      @KenMueller We didn’t have a TV growing up so we could either read or play outside. I’m really happy reading was cultivated in my house. I totally agree with you. Reading LOTS of different things make you much more well-rounded.

      nlyons posted a link on Twitter the other day about how one should only date girls who read. I wanted to yell, “That’s right!”

  • bhas

    I have always been a bookworm. But now that I use my writing to pay the bills I have found that reading fiction has improved my language. I went through a phase in college and at work when I didn’t have time to read quality fiction and I could tell that my muscles had atrophied. I don’t know if it’s with me or it’s universal but if I spend too much time on the Internet I start making silly mistakes that I never made back when I read essays, short stories, poems and plays for high school assignments. Maybe, when you are buried under too much of “Y U NO LIKE ME” thought balloons and lolcats your standards of what’s acceptable change. I think that most blogs and user generated content could really do with a look over by a decent copy editor. Also, tools like spell check have made us so lazy that if we were to spend one day without them we would probably trip up 50% of the time

  • bhas

    I have always been a bookworm. But now that I use my writing to pay the bills I have found that reading fiction has improved my language. I went through a phase in college and at work when I didn’t have time to read quality fiction and I could tell that my muscles had atrophied.

    I don’t know if it’s with me or it’s universal but if I spend too much time on the Internet I start making silly mistakes that I never made back when I read essays, short stories, poems and plays for high school assignments. Maybe, when you are buried under too much of “Y U NO LIKE ME” thought balloons and lolcats your standards of what’s acceptable change.

    On that tangent, I think that most blogs and user generated content could really do with a look over by a decent copy editor. Also, tools like spell check have made us so lazy that if we were to spend one day without them we would probably trip up 50% of the time

    • ginidietrich

      @bhas Y U NO LIKE ME made me laugh. Out loud. Hilarious!!

      One of the things I’m religious about here is AP style. It was required I memorize it as a junior professional and now I require it of my team. Those kinds of mistakes, along with the spelling and grammar, make me nuts. You won’t pass our writing test if you only know text language, which concerns me for the young professionals we’ll be hiring in the years to come.

  • @ginidietrich Really enjoyed this post, and I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes in our busy lives, it feels like a luxury to take the time to become absorbed in a good book, but it’s such a wonderful feeling. Then there’s always that feeling of not wanting to start another book after you’ve read one that really resonates with you because you don’t want it to be over! One of the reasons I really like book clubs is because they encourage me to read books I might not have picked up otherwise. More often than not, I’ve been pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed learning about a new topic.

    • ginidietrich

      @glonigro LOL! That’s so true. I was so sad when I finished reading The Hunger Games series. I felt like I’d lost a friend.

  • I just read this last week, and I’ve been thinking lately how I need to broaden out of ALWAYS reading content related to my career, so this was the push I needed. I downloaded The Illumination the other night (I think it was on NPR’s list of top 2011 books), and so far I love it. I think (hope) reading fiction will help slow my brain down at night before I sleep so I stop thinking about work!

    • ginidietrich

      @Nikki_Little It should help transfer you to a new place. You may even begin to dream about things that help your work, without even realizing it. I do that and it’s pretty interesting to see what I come up with because of my subconscious.

  • John_Trader1

    Brilliant post. The gateway to being more empathetic and accepting differing points of view is such an essential dynamic of a modern PR pro and I suspect becoming a bit lost with younger generations that are lured away from reading by the digital age. I visit our local library at least a couple of times a month on a Saturday and often it’s empty and barren – a place that used to be the toast of childhood to explore and expand the creative mind.

    With the increasing pressure to crank out results, learning to develop a more well rounded outlook on life through reading different genres does indeed help you to be more creative and thorough, promoting stability in a tumultuous world that is often difficult to interpret.

    • ginidietrich

      @John_Trader1 Do you see my mom at the library? You two are the only people I know who go there. OK. That’s a slight exaggeration. I know maybe five people who still go to the library.

      It’s funny – I read more now because of the digital age. It’s easier to get your hands on lots of really good stuff to read. The problem I find is that, because I read and write all day long, I don’t want to read at the end of the day. Sometimes I have to force myself.

  • jenzings

    I love this post. LOVE. I read a ton, and always have. We lived overseas a lot when I was a kid, and television was not an option. When we would get whiny and bored, the answer was always the same: “go read a book.” So we did. Now, I am far more likely to pick up a book than turn on the television, and it’s almost always fiction. I read 30 books last year and am aiming for 36 this year. I’ve always felt that strong readers make good writers, for the reasons articulated in @bhas comment.

    (I hope you’ll let me post this comment even though I’ve been banned until finishing the Stieg Larson trilogy… 😉 )

    • ginidietrich

      @jenzings Holy cow. I’m impressed you read that many books. Wow. Even though you’re banned, I’m just finishing Steve Jobs. What should I read next?

      • jenzings

        @ginidietrich Hm…my favorites from last year were (in no particular order): 1Q84, The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray, Cutting for Stone, State of Wonder, The Family Fang, Cloud Atlas and The Passage. I’ve just finished Sarah’s Key and The Summer of the Bear, both were good, and I’ve just started The Revisionists, which has a very interesting plot and is good so far.

        • ginidietrich

          @jenzings I LOVED Sarah’s Key! The French did a movie of it and it was quite good, too.

  • Awesome! I’ve SO got this one covered, lol. It’s nice to know I’m doing something productive while pursuing one of my favorite hobbies. I know for certain that reading so much fiction has had a huge impact on my vocabulary, sentence structure and overall writing style. Also, since I’m pursuing a career as a librarian, it’s an easy way to relate to my interviewers. 😉

    • ginidietrich

      @makammerer See! So many benefits!

  • TimPio

    Gini:Some great thoughts backed up by some powerful data. This is something I wrestle with…I love to read, but sometimes choose a nonfiction book thinking that it’s more important or urgent. That being said, there’s nothing more satisfying than getting lost in a book (or books) with a great story. Last summer the Stieg Larsson trilogy did it for me. Hmm..I’m going to have to re-think the books I choose to read. Thanks again!

    • ginidietrich

      @TimPio If you liked the Stieg Larsson books, you should read The Hunger Games series. I had to tell myself to go to work and I could read when I got home. They are that good.

      • @ginidietrich@TimPio All this talk of the Hunger Games is making me want to read them again!

    • polleydan

      @TimPio

    • polleydan

      @TimPio Yes, I fall into the “trap” of reading nonfiction over fiction too much because of urgency. I’ve started to expand my book searches on recent library trips, though.

      • ginidietrich

        @polleydan@TimPio Fiction is so much more fun to read. Unless you’re reading my nonfiction book (due out in May). Then clearly you’ve chosen the right path.

  • WordsMatterESW

    Reading fiction is great. Writing a little is even better. 🙂

    Great post!

    • ginidietrich

      @WordsMatterESW That’s one thing I need to do – write some fiction. I have the writing part down, but I’ve not written any fiction since college.

      • jenzings

        @ginidietrich@WordsMatterESW Agreed! I do this too. What helped to jump-start this was joining a writers’ group at my local library. I receive good, fair, and critical feedback from the group. I submitted one short story to an anthology that was part of a contest, and the piece was accepted for publication. I write and publish pretty much every day on the CustomScoop blog, but having that short story accepted was such a thrill! It’s so much fun to let your mind go down different literary paths.

        Gini, the most interesting thing to me is that since I’ve been in the writers’ group, writing fiction, I’ve had less of a problem with writer’s block than I used to when it comes to writing for the blog. It still happens on occasion, but far less frequently. Weird. And cool.

        • WordsMatterESW

          @jenzings@ginidietrich I agree, wholeheartedly, that writing and reading outside of your “typical” genre is a great preventative for being blocked. Even if it is just for personal use and will never be seen by anyone else. I treat my “other genre” writing as creative play time, really. It helps keep things in motion.

      • WordsMatterESW

        @ginidietrich There are lots of ways to go about it. As Jenzings says below, there are writing groups around, or make friends with a fiction writer who’s willing to give you constructive feedback, or, just do it for your own personal amusement. As a fiction writer, I write non-fiction (including blog posts and such) mostly as a hobby, though I’m always open to deepening the work to a more professional level. I dabble with poetry which no one needs (or would want) to see. I play with screenwriting on occasion for the creative energy. Either way, in studying ongoing creativity, it is clear that these sorts of creative diversions are a great way to boost the overall process. Reading different genres is a great thing, but dabbling in them from time to time is rewarding as well.

        • ginidietrich

          @WordsMatterESW I think I am going to take your advice. As soon as my business book is off to the presses, I’m going to start that novel I’ve always wanted to write. I have no idea what it’ll be about, but that’s part of the process. Right??

  • bradmarley

    I remember reading a tweet a few months back where the tweeter asked for book recs, as he was boarding a plane and needed something to read. Nine out of the 10 responses were business or marketing books. It was almost as if they were afraid to recommend something fictional, for fear they wouldn’t be taken seriously.

    I, for one, am glad to hear this, because I tend to read mostly fiction.

    (Don’t judge.)

    • ginidietrich

      @bradmarley That makes me sad. I wouldn’t even think to recommend a business book before fiction. So you won’t see me judging you here!

  • Reading makes you into a better writer which is why I am a fan of Mad Magazine.

    • ginidietrich

      @TheJackB My brothers were not into Mad Magazine so I’m just now getting my lesson from Mr. D on the stories. Of course, the movies they’ve been making in the past 10 years helps my education too.

      • @ginidietrich I used to love the back page and how you would fold it to discover a new picture/message.

  • I try to read one fiction book a month. I’m going to be really sad when I finish The Hunger Games Trilogy next month.

    • scribblinghappy

      @JayDolan If business books were written like The Hunger Games, I suspect people would actually read more of them after dutifully picking them up from the bookstore. Fantastic trilogy.

      • @scribblinghappy Indeed. Maybe I will write that business book.

        • ginidietrich

          @JayDolan@scribblinghappy Going through the business book publishing process right now, the author doesn’t have much say in the tone. It would be awesome to see that change.

    • ginidietrich

      @JayDolan Seriously. I was so sad when I finished the trilogy. I felt like I’d lost a good friend.

  • scribblinghappy

    Gini – fantastic post! It’s important to keep our humanity instead of trying to become machines who feed on the latest business book.

    At least that’s the excuse I tell myself when I pull out The Hunger Games instead of the latest and greatest how to succeed in business book.

    • ginidietrich

      @scribblinghappy HAHAHAHAH! I’m totally going to use that excuse. I’ll let you know if it makes me feel less guilty.

  • elizabethsosnow1

    You had me at Ayn Rand – but you already knew that…Seriously, I heartily agree with this post. I even wrote about my own addiction to fiction over business books here:

    http://blog.blisspr.com/2011/10/11/i-don%E2%80%99t-want-to-read-another-book-about-social-media/#content

    • ginidietrich

      @elizabethsosnow1 The title, alone, is going to have me swooning over your blog post.

  • Oh this is such a bellalindsay post. I love reading fiction as much as non-fiction. Mostly Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Spiritual (Tao Te Ching) or Cult fiction (Naked Lunch etc) but occasionally a classic. Being forced to read Harry Potter right now. Sigh. But have a history of the ottoman empire and a book covering the battles of alexander the great lined up next.

    I can’t imagine a world without fiction. The old Bards approve of this post Gini!

  • Oh this is such a belllindsay post. I love reading fiction as much as non-fiction. Mostly Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Spiritual (Tao Te Ching) or Cult fiction (Naked Lunch etc) but occasionally a classic. Being forced to read Harry Potter right now. Sigh. But have a history of the ottoman empire and a book covering the battles of alexander the great lined up next.

    I can’t imagine a world without fiction. The old Bards approve of this post Gini!

    • belllindsay

      @HowieSPM “…..have a history of the ottoman empire and a book covering the battles of alexander the great lined up next.” **SWOON** LOL You should read “A History of the World in 100 Objects” by Neil MacGregor – you would *love* it!! I’m reading it now. I will admit to leaning slightly more ‘non-fiction’ in my reading pleasures (science/history geek!) – but I have some fave fiction writers.

    • bhas

      @HowieSPM I like your choice of reading material, dear Sir. I have four volumes of “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” in my Kindle app for PC right now. Looking forward to diving into these tomes as soon as I have some time.

      I have to mention that I like reading quality non-fiction. History is a favorite subject, especially military history. And my choice of fiction these days lean towards classics and authors like Arthur Conan Doyle and Wodehouse. Of course I won’t turn up my nose at a Hadley Chase or a Grisham either.

      • ginidietrich

        @bhas John Grisham is my guilty pleasure. I hate to even put that in writing, but I read everything he writes.

        • belllindsay

          @ginidietrich@bhas Ooooooooh, guilty pleasures…!? Stephen *koff* King. 😉

        • @belllindsay@ginidietrich@bhas I read every King book through IT. That book drained me and I couldn’t ever read another one! LOL

    • ginidietrich

      @HowieSPM FORCED?! How can you be forced to read Harry Potter?? You’re lucky they’re all out. I had to wait YEARS for the next book to come out. I should re-read those, too.

      • @ginidietrich well it was one of the terms of engagement from Isadora. I’ m a LOTR fan, Conan, Xanth, Dune type. LOL

        But I love JK Rowling. Glad that punk who divorced her did so before she got published. Sucka! LOL

  • outtacontext

    @isalara Feeling better today?

    • isalara

      @outtacontext not yet 🙁 Hoping for 2nd dose of antibiotics to do the trick. #endlesscold #fingerscrossed

  • Another English major here! Concentration in literary theory and Medieval/Renaissance literature from my undergraduate days, MA in cultural studies. #nerd

    I’ve always been a voracious reader, both fiction and non-fiction about equally. @HowieSPM and I share love of many of the same genres (shocker, I know). I’ve shared this here before – but I’ll do so again: I re-read LOTR every year. My parents gave me the massive single volume leatherbound edition as a gift on my 15th birthday and it’s been my yearly tradition ever since. Reading has always been the driving force behind my writing.

    • @jasonkonopinski@HowieSPM I never get tired of LOTR. I can read and read and read it again. My dream as a writer is to create something like that. Simply indescribable.

      • @TheJackB@HowieSPM Seriously. The language and world-building alone are nothing short of spectacular.

      • bhas

        @TheJackB@jasonkonopinski@HowieSPM I was hooked on LOTR before the movies came out and it was cool to be a LOTR fan. I still remember the day clearly- it was first year at the engineering college hostel and I saw this big fat book (the entire triology) with a green-black cover lying on a guy’s bed

        4 days and new languages,strange worlds, odd races of people, unadulterated evil, desperate battles and punishing treks later I was a fan. For life.

        Another book that I have read at least a hundred times is “Three Men in a Boat”by Jermone K.Jerome. It’s fricking hilarious in a Monty Pythonesque way.

    • ginidietrich

      @jasonkonopinski There simply are some books you should re-read. Always.

  • Leon

    G’Day Gini,

    I read a lot. But i gotta say that some of the business books i read are sheer fiction. Trouble is, they’re not written by Graham Greene or Earl Stanley Gardner.

    I’ve also been writing for over 50 years. I’ve learnt something in that time that all writers of great fiction know. Writing is mostly about that reader, not the writer. If only more bloggers understood that………..! Fortunately, There’s still fun to be had if you search carefully

    RegardsLeon

    • @Leon “… some of the business books i read are sheer fiction. Trouble is, they’re not written by Graham Greene or Earl Stanley Gardner.” Hahahah!

    • ginidietrich

      @Leon LOL!! I just read the first part of your comment aloud to my team. You are hilarious!

  • DBMC

    @ginidietrich Hey Gini, I talk about your reading blog post in my blog today: http://t.co/8APib9L0

  • As a fellow English major, I’ve gotta agree with this. I hadn’t realized all of the great reasons why reading fiction is so valuable so this was helpful. I usually find myself reading non-fiction like M Gladwell or the Heath brothers but I definitely see the value of fiction. I think you were on to another good reason at the end when you said “it will give you some time away from work”. Reading fiction can be like taking a great brain vacation. Great post.

    • ginidietrich

      @Marc_Luber Fellow English majors unite! And it’s fun to see you here so often this year. New Year’s resolution?

      • @ginidietrich Ha! Yes – it IS actually a NY resolution to get back in the groove.

  • margieclayman

    I thought for sure this was going to be where you posted your list of 10 favorite books. So let down. So disappointed. I don’t know I’ll be able to recover now. *sigh*

    • ginidietrich

      @margieclayman Crap. I keep forgetting I promised that to you. Can it be a guest post on your blog?

      • margieclayman

        @ginidietrich Sure. I could contact Nick and see if he could make us a pretty list too 🙂 That way people could judge you. I meant, your choices.

        • ginidietrich

          @margieclayman Oh that’s a totally fun idea!

  • I am having a serious girl crush on you for this post, Ms. @ginidietrich.

    Much love,

    A fellow English Major who works in marketing

    • ginidietrich

      @lamiki I love you sooooooooo much for saying that!

  • ewittke

    @ginidietrich Made my day seeing this!

    • ginidietrich

      @ewittke That makes me so happy!

  • LindsayB610

    This is fascinating. As another English major, and a lifelong reader, I feel like I’m living proof of the truth of this research! Thanks for sharing!

    • ginidietrich

      @LindsayB610 I love that us book nerds have been right all along!

  • IMHO, “The love affair with the narrative” that comes from reading more fiction also tends to manifest itself in the ability of one to converse with authority and conviction (i.e. you don’t hear people that read a lot fall back on “like” and “you know” when they talk.) That’s another business skill that can be improved, and can serve emerging pros well.

    • ginidietrich

      @TedWeismann Or even “I think.” Really great point, Ted!

  • RobinEThornton

    Thank goodness. I can ditch my plain paper covers and stop feeling guilty! Great post! @ginidietrich http://t.co/ZNu0MWto

    • ginidietrich

      @RobinEThornton LOL!!

  • martinwaxman

    Understanding people through stories RT @ginidietrich Reading fiction enhances your social skills and makes you a better professional

  • Fabulous! YES! Read fiction, go for a walk, run, cycle, listen to music, DRAW … whatever it takes – being away from your work is just as important as doing it.

    As cliche as it sounds, getting out and smelling the roses WILL help you gain perspective, inspiration, and help you reflect.

    Yay to reading fiction! Do Eric Carle books fall under fiction – “The Hungry Caterpillar” and “Brown Bear” are hardcore favourites along with Aesop’s “Lion and the Mouse” …

    • ginidietrich

      @Ameenafalchetto HAHAHAH! I think they do, indeed, fall under the fiction category. BiP is getting great training!

  • AlinaKelly

    Great posts tell great truths. This. is. a. great. post. period.

    I have always loved reading fiction and have noticed a direct correlation between the quality of my writing and the amount of non-business reading I do.

    For a number of years, when I felt a bit overwhelmed with two small children, career etc., I sometimes felt that I only had time for business reading. Fiction fell off the bedside table, so to speak. While many business books are well written, their effect on me is quite different from reading fiction. During those times when I was not reading intricately woven tales in beautiful prose, I noticed a change in the breadth of my vocabulary and the quality of my work-related writing.

    With my sample size of n=1, I submit that fiction reading improves writing and am inclined to support the findings of the article in Scientific American, even though I’m Canadian. And (regrettably) not an English major.

    • ginidietrich

      @AlinaKelly “even thought I’m Canadian.” That made me laugh. Out loud!

      • AlinaKelly

        @ginidietrich @AlinaKelly

      • AlinaKelly

        @ginidietrich @AlinaKelly

      • AlinaKelly

        @ginidietrich Well then my work here is done.

  • jennimacdonald

    @SamiaZaky Thanks for the RT, do you enjoy fiction too? : )

    • SamiaZaky

      @jennimacdonald definitely do! it’s what gets me through my 1.5 hr commute to #NYC each morning!

      • jennimacdonald

        @SamiaZaky Ouch, I was thinking bout doing that but I decided I’ll just stick w Stamford

        • SamiaZaky

          @jennimacdonald CT is fun too! Where do you work?

        • jennimacdonald

          @SamiaZaky In transition : ) Let’s keep in touch, I don’t know anyone down there

  • I read. All the time. Every type and kind of book that “finds” me.

    • @KDillabough I had nine books find me today. I almost spelled “fine” instead of “find.” That would work, too. I had to pay for those nine books. Despite that fact, I love them all.

      • ginidietrich

        @Erin F.@KDillabough I need a book to find me. Any recommendations?

        • @ginidietrich@Erin F. I will be back with recommendations:)

        • @KDillabough@ginidietrich Are we staying in the fiction realm? Ursula K. Le Guin’s Changing Planes found me today. The other books are about the actual act of writing, creativity, et cetera.

        • @Erin F.@ginidietrich Oh my, the name Ursula Le Guin puts me in mind of one of my favourite movies, “The Jane Austin Book Club”. SUCH a great movie, & Le Guin’s referenced in a key part.

        • @ginidietrich@Erin F. I suggest “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton as a start. It’s an escape!

        • ginidietrich

          @KDillabough@Erin F. Thank you! I don’t have either of these on my list so I’ll add them.

        • jenzings

          @KDillabough@Erin F.@ginidietrich I didn’t know The Jane Austin Book Club had been made into a movie…I read the book!

        • @jenzings@Erin F.@ginidietrich The movie is fantastic! It stars Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Amy Brenneman, Kathy Baker, Lynn Redgrave, Marc Blucas, Hugh Dancy, Maggie Grace, Kevin Zegers and Jimmy Smits. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times. sooooooo good.

  • I was an English major for a while. And I agree. Each day I find that I need both left brain and right brain stimulation to operate at my peak. Otherwise I tend to suck. And yes, I phrased that especially for our punk friends. 😉

    • ginidietrich

      @Tinu For a while? Can you stop being a major in something? I was a nuclear physics major for a while.

      • @ginidietrich according to my parents, when they stop paying for it. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @Tinu AHAHAHAHA!

  • Finally, sound evidence to prove that my love of fiction actually means something in the “real world!” I was/am an English major as well, and I’ve always felt that reading has contributed to my empathetic nature. It has also shaped my writing skills because I’ve been exposed to varied sentence structure and tone. If I didn’t have access to fiction, then who knows if I’d even enjoy writing as much as I do today! (Side note: many of my friends who claim to hate reading are constantly updating their statuses with cringe-worthy phrases like “should of”…I can’t help but think this is partially due to their lack of exposure to professional, accurate writing. That’s what they hear when people say “should’ve,” so they automatically assume it’s correct). But, I digress!

    You said: “A love affair with narrative may gradually alter your personality—in some cases, making you more open to new experiences and more socially aware.” Wow, isn’t that the truth. I’d never thought of it that way before, but reading HAS helped with my open-mindedness and social awareness. Which is funny, because I’ve always been an introvert (and accused of ignoring people for my books). Who says I can’t have my cake and eat it, too?

    Anyway, I’ll cut this short before I take up all of the space in this comment section. Excellent topic!

    P.S. As a content marketer, I LOVE finally having a comeback for the people who ask what an English degree is good for! 😉

    • ginidietrich

      @Jill Tooley Should of is one of those things that makes me cringe when I see it. That and irregardless.

      We can all thank Scientific American for giving us some ammunition for our major!

  • ginidietrich

    @holly_bowers And your bio even says you’re a bookworm!

    • holly_bowers

      @ginidietrich I’m also a senior English major, and your article made my day!

      • ginidietrich

        @holly_bowers See! There is something we can do with our degrees!

  • ginidietrich

    @lpiotto Right?? LOL!

  • ginidietrich

    @feliciahudson I need to finish my work so I can curl up with a good book!

    • feliciahudson

      @ginidietrich I love this post! Didn’t have a chance to comment. It gives permission to indulge. 🙂 Please share what you’re reading!

      • ginidietrich

        @feliciahudson I just finished Steve Jobs. While not fiction, it’s EXCELLENT reading

        • kmueller62

          @ginidietrich still got snow?

        • ginidietrich

          @kmueller62 Yep! It snowed all day today!

        • ginidietrich

          @kmueller62 Yep! It snowed all day today!

        • kmueller62

          @ginidietrich really? wow. how much do you have now?

        • feliciahudson

          @ginidietrich Thanks for sharing. Steve Jobs has been on my list. Good to know you thought was a good read.

  • authoraire

    @randomhouseau Justification enough to make it tax deductible, don’t you think?

  • bradpenner2

    @_AlexisAbel what if u have a fictional career?

    • _AlexisAbel

      @bradpenner2 In the words of Holden Caulfield, don’t be a phony!

  • Sallyodgers

    @randomhouseau THAT’s why books are tax-deductible for writers… We knew there had to be a good reason.

  • Sallyodgers

    @randomhouseau THAT’s why books are tax-deductible for writers… We knew there had to be a good reason.

  • Sorry for being the ‘odd man out’ – but I have never been a fiction reader. As a young lad, eager to learn, and desperate for knowlegde – I used to eat up atlas’, history books, information about countries, events etc. As I moved into impressionable teenage years – I dropped all that (as well as the music manuscrripts – darned – wish I had kept that going) – and moved onto sports information.

    Now – as a well adjusted man about town – my reading is confined to snippets of web stories, work documents, and the odd self help guide/Chicago based blog that has won me over (guilty as charged and now with full wifi – at work anyway).

    By looks of things – It looks like that ficyion reading can improve your health/career – so will see how we go…

    NOTE – Holiday Nic, who reads about 4 trillion books a second when lazing by the pool, was not available for this interview.

    • ginidietrich

      @Nic_Cartwright The moral of the story for Nic? Read fiction.

  • Tinu

    @OffThe_Record If you’re buying, the price is only $4700.47. Friends and family discount. I take all credit cards. @ginidietrich

  • saintinc

    @SeanClark Thanks for RT 🙂

  • JonathanRWegner

    @js_mack @ginidietrich I’m pretty sure reading ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ counts

    • js_mack

      @JonathanRWegner @ginidietrich But that’s not fiction…

  • ginidietrich

    @js_mack LOL!!

  • I SO hear you on this one, Gini. I started out with fiction and even published a novel at the end of the 90s before deciding to move onto a different kind of writing after I really hated the publishing world and the flunkies that hang around there. It just wasn’t for me.

    But I think decades of reading fiction helped me more than any writing tutor both stylistically and in terms of having something to say.

    My favourite book of all time ? Jane Eyre

    • ginidietrich

      @jonbuscall I also loved Jane Eyre. You really can never go wrong with the classics.

  • BenjammerJ

    Thanks for sharing, Gini! I’m an English major, MFA grad working in corporate comms and I completely agree that the skills I learned from just simply reading make a huge difference. I can tell who doesn’t really read, too.

    • ginidietrich

      @BenjammerJ You can tell, can’t you?! We always ask that question in interviews. It tells a TON about a person.

  • ansinanser

    (-: Fiction def. over end of day biz email @karvetski. For am biz writing @ginidietrich I don’t want creativity blocking facts #yoikes

  • I never really thought about it like this although I have found that reading fiction has helped my own creativity and ability to brainstorm. Now I have a valid excuse to read more fun stuff!

  • robinhlane

    @rachaelseda Hmm, does that include the bad YA novels I keep reading?

    • rachaelseda

      @robinhlane Yes it does. Blame @ginidietrich she didn’t really specify now did she..man we could really spin her post hehehe

      • ginidietrich

        @rachaelseda @robinhlane Hey now! Spin sucks!

        • robinhlane

          @ginidietrich @rachaelseda Ha. Yes it does 🙂

        • rachaelseda

          @ginidietrich @robinhlane hehehe I couldn’t help it!

    • rachaelseda

      @robinhlane We must get a zumba date together fo real! cc: @megmroberts @nicoleraisch @amsettle

      • robinhlane

        @rachaelseda @megmroberts @nicoleraisch @amsettle I was just about to say that. Pick a day, time etc. Maybe this weekend?

        • rachaelseda

          @robinhlane I can do next week/weekend? cc: @megmroberts @nicoleraisch @amsettle

        • robinhlane

          @rachaelseda @megmroberts @nicoleraisch @amsettle Sounds good to me! DM me the name of the place and I will check out schedules.

  • ErinMFeldman

    @adamtoporek I certainly think so. Of course, I’m biased.

    • adamtoporek

      @erinmfeldman But it’s a good bias, right? 🙂

      • ErinMFeldman

        @adamtoporek Sure, if you don’t mind my occasional rants about literature and grammar. 😉

  • geoffliving

    I was a literature major, too. Focused on Russian lit. Love this post, Gini. All time Spin Sucks favorite, and I agree completely.

    • @geoffliving What an assortment. You were Russian literature. I was poetry (in grad school). I don’t remember jasonkonopinski ‘s emphasis.

      • @Erin F.@geoffliving Medieval & Renaissance 🙂

        • @jasonkonopinski@geoffliving Ah, that’s right. Did you have to read Orlando Furioso or Jerusalem Delivered?

    • ginidietrich

      @geoffliving All time?!? Wow. That’s big.

      • geoffliving

        @ginidietrich You rocked the house on this one, buddy!

  • ginidietrich

    @katie_did8 Such a good trilogy??

    • katie_did8

      @ginidietrich I didn’t know it was part of a trilogy but did know there are other books with Girl With in them. Same author?

      • ginidietrich

        @katie_did8 Same author! You have to get them. NOW!! LIsbeth has a new adventure.

        • katie_did8

          @ginidietrich OH! Thank you for bringing me up to speed. Can’t wait to read both of them, new adventures with Lisbeth? I’m in. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @katie_did8 You have Girl Who Played with Fire and Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest http://t.co/OjiNEzeh

  • ginidietrich

    @katie_did8 I mean, !!

  • ginidietrich

    @JohnDeereTara You were wrong!

    • JohnDeereTara

      @ginidietrich so I should get to take book breaks during the day? #probablypushingit

      • ginidietrich

        @JohnDeereTara Have you read The Hunger Games series? I had to make myself go to work just so I could go home and read

        • JohnDeereTara

          @ginidietrich I read them all in a weekend. Stayed up so late that it was early to finish the first one

        • ginidietrich

          @JohnDeereTara LOL!! I totally get it. Did you read Steve Jobs?

        • JohnDeereTara

          @ginidietrich I haven’t read Steve Jobs. My “to read” list is a bit out of control right now

        • ginidietrich

          @JohnDeereTara Mine, too. That’s why we should read for a living.

        • JohnDeereTara

          @ginidietrich My guidance counselor never told me about that as a career option. I’m in! #BooksAreAwesome

        • ginidietrich

          @JohnDeereTara Woo hoo!!

  • ifdyperez

    I’m late reading this! I TOTALLY agree. I majored in creative writing (and still write fiction on my own time) so I have that bias too. It’s true that there’s a difference in the King/Grisham readers and literary fans of Rand/Orwell. It also gives you a greater command of the language, which is a benefit I’d add to your list.

    • ginidietrich

      @ifdyperez Wait. You write fiction in your own time? Anything you’d care to share? No wonder @geoffliving likes you so much.

      • ifdyperez

        @ginidietrich@geoffliving Lol, yeah, I’m getting back into the groove and have a couple pieces I’m trying to finish. MAYBE I’ll send something over one day. 🙂

      • geoffliving

        @ginidietrich@ifdyperez Ifdy is one of my all time favorite people to work with… For sure.

        • ifdyperez

          @geoffliving@ginidietrich I didn’t pay him to say that, I swear! 😉 Geoff’s da bomb diggity.

  • ginidietrich

    @cbaumgarten Any reason to read, right?

  • I am late reading this!

    I studied psychology for 5 years! Any thing I read sounds like fiction 😉

    • ginidietrich

      @Hajra HAHAHAHAH!

  • hanelly

    4. It can improve your tone and refine your voice.

    5. It makes good conversation (social currency).

  • hanelly

    This post is excellent. I’d add 2 more:

    4. It can improve your tone and refine your voice.

    5. It makes good conversation (social currency).

    • ginidietrich

      @hanelly Totally agree, Andrew! Were your ears burning on Thursday? We were talking about you!

      • hanelly

        @ginidietrich Uh oh – filing a police report??

        • ginidietrich

          @hanelly We were. How’d you know??

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  • ryancox

    The Hunger Games, FTW! (no @ginidietrich I haven’t finished yet. #facepalm)

    • ginidietrich

      @ryancox Which book are you on?

  • I love this post beyond words (apparently all my fiction reading hasn’t made me all THAT articulate). I’m glad there’s a fellow English major out there proving that stories aren’t a silly thing to study. 😉

    • ginidietrich

      @Kristy G. Stewart They’re definitely not a silly thing to study. Think about all the creativity that goes into fiction. It helps!

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  • ryanleecox

    @ginidietrich halfway through MockingJay. Planning on finishing today!

    • ginidietrich

      @ryanleecox Are you not completely sucked in?

      • ryanleecox

        @ginidietrich Oh I’m completely sucked in. lol So far Mockingjay is my favorite of the 3. (I know unexpected right?)

        • ginidietrich

          @ryanleecox Totally unexpected!

        • ShawnieQR

          @ryanleecox I am a HUGE Hunger Games Trilogy fan. I can’t wait for the 1st movie to come out in March.
          #superfan

        • ryanleecox

          @ginidietrich The Jobs book is my next in my queue. Is it okay if I alternate between fiction and non-fiction? =)

        • ryanleecox

          @ShawnieQR Totally! We’ll have to get a ‘after book-club-we-already-read-it’ to go to the movie! lol #flask

        • ShawnieQR

          @ryanleecox I think I will be going to my 1st ever Midnight Showing. #flask

        • slicklaroo

          @ShawnieQR @ryanleecox I’m going to the midnight showing! #earhustlin

        • ginidietrich

          @ryanleecox Yes! I just finished reading Steve Jobs. It’s EXCELLENT

        • ShawnieQR

          @slicklaroo @ryanleecox We should get a big group together to go to the Midnight Showing of #HungerGames

        • slicklaroo

          @ShawnieQR @ryanleecox I love this idea! I smell a tweet up!!!

        • ryanleecox

          @ShawnieQR @slicklaroo I’m in! #HungerGames #flask

        • slicklaroo

          @ryanleecox @shawnieqr awesome!!!

  • ginidietrich

    @deirdre_obrien @itsmenicole You can always say, “Science proves I should read. Right now.”

  • ginidietrich

    @CareersOutThere Hiiiii!

    • CareersOutThere

      @ginidietrich Hey GD! Getting a dose of Chicago tonight: Wilco is here! The state of the union is strong.

      • ginidietrich

        @CareersOutThere NICE! I know LOTS of people who will be jealous!

  • PaulaLima

    @ginidietrich @spinsucks Just experience it again 2day Got right on a good strategy 4 a project after a 5′ non-fiction ready at lunch!

    • ginidietrich

      @PaulaLima I just sent you a Facebook message and now you’re in my Twitter stream.Hi!

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  • Agarza239

    It’s always great to read a format different than what you’re used to working with. It makes you more of a well rounded writer, and even like what you (basically) said, a better rounded person. It’s easy to assume that the more social situations you put yourself in, the more they help you be more social, but you totally hit the nail on the head.

    • ginidietrich

      @Agarza239 Most of us read blogs and news all day. When I am finishing up for the night, the last thing I want to do is read more of the same. Give me some good fiction so I can escape for a few hours.

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