As a small business owner, are you wasting your time by reading novels?

I would argue you’re not.

While many leaders espouse the benefits of reading nonfiction books (of which there are many), many do not give novels credit where credit is due.

Novels can really be helpful for anyone who does marketing, which includes small business owners. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why.

1. Reading novels can help you concentrate for longer periods of time

The Internet teaches our brains to scan instead of read.

I’ve found that after reading for hours online, it can be difficult to transition to reading a novel. During those times, I feel distracted by the book, since it requires me not to skim but to concentrate for much longer periods of time than I’m used to when browsing the Internet.

A 2019 study suggests that our attention spans have been shrinking in recent years. Social media, 24-hour news, and other products of the digital age are largely to blame for this.

Reading novels helps you to practice concentrating. This in turn helps you develop a longer attention span.

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Harry S. Truman

2. Reading novels can foster a love of reading

It can be tiresome if you only read business books that require a lot of intensive thinking. Sticking with “strictly professional” books may zap some of the fun out of reading.

But with novels, the stuff you’re reading likely won’t apply to your life outside of the book. That’s why I like novels—because they’re “brain candy.”

I like to use this analogy: If all the exercise you do is strenuous, taxing workouts, you may be more likely to quit than you would be if you integrated some “just-for-fun” workouts (like a hike or a sport) into your exercise routine.

In the same way, reading something for the simple joy of reading can help you stick with the habit of reading.

3. Reading novels can teach you new words

As marketers, we often work in multiple industries, so having a wide variety of words to draw from can be useful. Often, I find myself learning at least a few new words when I’m reading a novel.

Side note

The built-in dictionary features of an e-book reader (such as an Amazon Kindle), can make it easier for you to expand your vocabulary.

4. Reading novels can help you improve your writing

Being exposed to the proper use of grammatical rules on a regular basis will help you polish your own writing.

Also, novels often do a great job at describing something that’s happening, which could be useful if you, say, describe how your product works.

Finally, the best novels have a cadence that flows. So, if you want your marketing content to flow, get exposed to what good cadence looks like by reading a great novel.

5. Reading novels can help you practice retaining information

Did you know you can mold your brain? This is a concept known as neural plasticity.

So, if you have trouble remembering specific facts that apply to your job, you may want to improve your memory.

With a lot of good novels, you have to juggle the names of multiple characters, places, fictional organizations, etc. You have to remember if a character is a villain, hero, or neither.

If you’re reading sci-fi or fantasy, you likely have to remember the names of different creatures, locations, and devices that are part of that universe.

Remembering all this stuff may not be of much use outside of reading the novel, but it allows you to get used to the idea of remembering specific pieces of information. Getting used to this may help you remember much-needed client or industry info.

Wrapping Up

I’m not saying don’t read nonfiction. But I am encouraging you to mix up your reading diet with a fun novel. I think you’ll be surprised with how beneficial this practice can be.

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