3/10

Why should engineers should read more fiction?

3 – Travel (intercontinental)

For most of us, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions stopped or severely curtailed all travel, especially international travel.

The joy of fiction is that it transports us to new places without ever leaving the comfort of our own armchair/bath/bed – wherever you do your most relaxed reading.

Of course, I can pick out snippets of useful information from travel guides, scour articles for the do’s and don’ts of business etiquette in other countries, or dip into non-fiction travelogues, but for me, a good story will always stay longer than bare facts.

Make me care and I’ll come along for the whole journey, good and bad.

My recommendation: Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts

It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate …but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.

In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum.

Continue to number four – Travel (temporal)

Fiona Erskine is a professional engineer and the author of Jaq Silver thrillers The Chemical DetectiveThe Chemical ReactionThe Chemical Cocktail and genre defying Phosphate Rocks: A death in Ten Objects.

2/10

Why should engineers read more fiction?

2 – Gender Balance

According to Mary Ann Sieghart, most women read books without considering the gender of the author, but many men in UK and USA will only read books by men. She called this The Authority Gap (and wrote a book about it – but we’re focussing on fiction here).

In Europe and North America, most engineers are men, so I challenge you all to check your own reading balance and if you find it skewed, to consciously set out to embrace diversity.

When I go to a real live bookshop and tell them what fiction I enjoy reading, the good booksellers will recommend something new, often something that takes me out of my comfort zone.

Try it; you might be surprised at what you’ve been missing.

If gender denotes a range of identities that do not necessarily correspond to established concepts of male and female then reading fiction is a great way to explore those ideas in complete safety.

My recommendation: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in 1969

I don’t mean love… I mean fear. The fear of the other.

A human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter and struggles to come to terms with a host society where where the inhabitants’ gender is fluid.

Continue to number three – Travel

Fiona Erskine is a professional engineer and the author of Jaq Silver thrillers The Chemical DetectiveThe Chemical ReactionThe Chemical Cocktail and genre defying Phosphate Rocks: A death in Ten Objects.

1/10

Featured

Why should engineers read more fiction?

1 – Empathy

Fiction enables you to walk through your world in someone else’s shoes. The finest writers of contemporary fiction hook you, reel you in and place you firmly inside the head of one or more of their characters. You see what they see, hear what they hear, touch and smell and taste what they sense, and experience everything that they feel. Does it help you to see familiar things in a new light?

Joe South wrote a song in 1970, made famous by Elvis Presley

Before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Then walk a mile in my shoes

If empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person then fiction is a great way to do that without a full brain transplant.

All in comfy shoes.

My recommendation: Try Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession and see if it doesn’t change the way you think about someone you know.

What novel would you recommend ?

Continue to reason to read number two – Gender Balance.

Fiona Erskine is a professional engineer and the author of Jaq Silver thrillers The Chemical Detective, The Chemical Reaction, The Chemical Cocktail and genre defying Phosphate Rocks: A death in Ten Objects.