In today’s fast-paced environment, reading for pleasure may seem to be a luxury most can ill afford. However, reading and exploring new ideas can be a critical element in workplace success and improved quality of life.
Works of fiction can provide a welcome escape from everyday stress and can offer insights into alternative points of view. Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that reading was essential for the leaders of any civilized society, stating, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”
Leaders in Industry and Entertainment
Many movers and shakers in the public and private sectors have voiced their support for the practice of reading for pleasure. Bill Mulrow, the chairman of the New York State Housing Finance Agency and the State of New York Mortgage Agency and a Senior Managing Director at the Blackstone Group, lists reading as one of his primary hobbies.
Oprah Winfrey has also popularized reading as an avocation. Oprah’s Book Club has showcased numerous works of fiction and nonfiction by famous and little-known authors for a wide audience around the world. And Microsoft founder and multi-billionaire Bill Gates has been quoted as saying, “I spend a lot of time reading.”
These notable individuals have busy schedules and urgent commitments. Nonetheless, they take time out to read and open their minds to new ideas.
What to Read
Making a choice between fiction and nonfiction is usually a matter of personal preference. Bill Mulrow enjoys the historical fiction genre and he also incorporates biographies into his everyday reading schedule.
Oprah’s reading list runs the gamut from recent works of social importance to mysteries, love stories and other light fiction.
No computer-related titles appear in the list recently released by Bill Gates. His eight titles include only one work of fiction and cover wide-ranging topics that include a study of stereotypes, the history of shipping containers and dietary changes in the country of Japan.
What all three readers have in common is an interest in topics outside their particular field of expertise. By exploring these new ideas and incorporating them into daily routines and work experiences, Bill Mulrow, Oprah and Bill Gates can recharge their mental batteries and expand their horizons to include added vistas of knowledge.
Works of Lasting Importance
While Bill Mulrow admits to having a preference for Dan Brown’s complex and convoluted mystery novels, he reads other works of cultural importance as well to remain current with modern society. Recent selections read by Mulrow include a biography of Bruce Springsteen and a novel about Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Oprah’s Book Club regularly covers controversial works of fiction and nonfiction and invites discussion through the club’s online site. Bill Gates has created the Gates Notes book catalog, which includes “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Too Big to Fail” and “The Hunger Games” among its 150 summary entries. These culturally significant literary works offer more than just relaxation and enjoyment for readers. They can also shape attitudes and create opportunities for greater creativity and innovation both on and off the job.
Examining the reading habits of highly successful individuals in the fields of industry, entertainment and invention can provide valuable insights into the value of reading for pleasure. Taking time out for reading can be a relaxing and rewarding activity that can open up new avenues of creativity and inspiration and build a solid foundation for future