What engineers read

In discussion with an engineer whose book reviews I enjoy, I discovered that most of his reading was non-fiction.

He said,

Personally, I read like 95% non-fiction and focus on books that help me improve various areas of my business and personal life.

That 5% of fiction reading is just to relax a bit and consists almost entirely of John Grisham legal thrillers.

Now I have no problem with John Grisham, but I couldn’t help feeling that my colleague was missing out.

So, I set out to find ten reasons – and ten novels – to help change his mind.

1 – Empathy

2 – Gender Balance

3 – Travel (Intercontinental)

4 – Travel (Temporal)

5 – Emotional Intelligence

6 – Lateral Thinking

7 – Escape

8 – Appreciation of other cultures and religions

9 – Rest and Relaxation

10 – Support writers, publishers and bookshops

I make a recommendation for each section, based on books I’ve enjoyed, but these should be taken as illustrative examples only. Some are bestselling classics, other are tiny runs from independent presses.

Choosing a book is incredibly personal and my sole aim is to encourage you to go to your local bookshop or library, if you can.

But wherever you get your books from – try something new.

Why? Well I think Emma Darwin expressed it best in her peon to slow reading

The desirable difficulty of sleeve and paint

As a reader, there must be a positive balance between effort and reward to make reading a book worth your while.

When the path isn’t well defined, when the initial slope is steeper than comfortable, when you can’t quite see around the next corner, but if you think the view at the end will be worth the climb, don’t be afraid to slow down.

The more effort you make, the more meaningful and memorable the experience will be.

Take your time. Savour the journey.

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.