Why should engineers read more fiction?

8 – Appreciation of other cultures and religions

Every engineer knows that you can learn all sorts of useful things from manuals, from lectures, from podcasts and videos and other courses, but it is only when you start to apply the principles in practice that you really consolidate your understanding.

Reading non-fiction can be like reading a better manual, full of real life examples, but maintaining the same comfortable distance between you and your subject.

The best modern fiction allows you to explore your own ideas and beliefs without harming those around you. To avoid the hurtful “where are you from, originally?” questions. To investigate, privately, what it means to look different, to worship differently. What it means to feel like an outsider.

Read a book by someone who doesn’t look like you, talk like you or think like you. Get behind the eyes and ears and senses of their characters and experience what they see and hear and feel. Immerse yourself in someone else’s story.

And see if your familiar, just, and well ordered world doesn’t start to look a little different.

I can only speak for myself as a ethnically white Scottish agnostic – you will be different and choose differently and that’s great.

But just for the record…

My recommendation is: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsee

For girls, becoming women was inevitability; for boys, becoming men was ambition.

Isma is about to start a graduate program in the States. After helping raise her much younger siblings, twins Aneeka (headstrong and beautiful) and Parvaiz (dangerously aimless), she hopes to start a new life. But the family’s past is about to catch up with them all.  

Continue to number nine – Rest and Relaxation – Lost in Translation

The full list of 10 recommended books (and a few extras) is available here

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.