There is a Harvard Professor now teaching that CEOs should read novels. According to her, through reading novels, CEOs become familiar with the complex moral choices that are written about in novels.
She also said that CEOs don’t read many novels.
Maybe because my father used to say that reading novels was addictive and a waste of time, I have always read them. Or maybe I like the exciting plots, or the unique way novelists see the world, or because one needs to relax by entering someone else’s world – and forgetting our own for a while that I like reading so much.
There is one author who has never disappointed. That is Michael Connelly. He writes, about the police department in Los Angeles. Although not all his novels are about him, his signature character is Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch.
Harry is a brilliant detective, the son of a prostitute who he last saw when he was very young. She was murdered. She called him Hieronymus Bosch after seeing a painting by Hieronymus Bosch and thought it a nice name.
He fought in the Vietnam War and even in the horrendous tunnels of the Mekong Delta. These tunnels were dug by the Viet Cong where they couldn’t be bombed by the overwhelming aerial might of the Americans.
Harry Bosch is intolerant of politically orientated bosses, ass lickers who don’t share the pain of the detectives on the beat. Harry seems to need as much courage to deal with his superiors as he does to confront and detain the low life criminals he catches.
Perhaps because of his strange upbringing, Harry has difficulty maintaining female relationships. His job of course doesn’t help as he is completely conscientious, utterly diligent in doing the right thing. Harry will always choose his job when it comes to allocating his time. But here is the dilemma: he really loves the women in his life. He seems to never argue or fight with his female partner. He seems to accept the hand of fate, whatever it might have in store for him.
He is an incredibly sympathetic character with his detective partners. He seems to understand everything that they are going through.
Michael Connolly was a journalist before he took to writing novels full time. He observed the detectives very well and he may very well be the best at describing detectives that there ever has been.
There is another thing about reading novels that is relevant to the international business person. If you want to do business outside your own nation, it really helps if you know the culture of the nationality with which you are dealing.
A wise teacher once told me that there were two ways to know what was going on in Russia in the middle of the 19th century. You could read the official statistics or you could read “The Brothers Karamatsov”, or “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. You usually learned more from the novel. There certainly is no contest when it comes to enjoyment. That is what great art is about; it holds the mirror up to life.
It should also be much more fun.
For a list of Michael Connolly books visit his web site at www.michaelconnolly.com