I don’t know if I’m your garden-variety hoarder. But I do tend to be a rather indiscriminate and prolific accumulator of thoughts. And I like to hang onto them until two or more present common threads in some form or fashion. In this instance, three of them connected quite nicely.
To regular readers of my ravings, it should come as no surprise that among the things I’ve been hoarding for a while is this article, the title of which asks the rhetorical question, “Does Reading Literature Enhance Leadership?” Of course, it does. According to this source, here’s why:
Reading literature — the classics, drama, novels, poetry — will help you to learn more about the world, about human nature, about how human beings interact in society and in work.
While the late novelist and essayist, Harry Crews, didn’t write about leadership per se, he did write about the very same interactions among human beings. In his introduction to Classic Crews, he expressed his take on those interactions this way:
The little that I have learned about the world, and, more important, that I have learned about myself, has been absurdly expensive, but I have always thought it more than worth the price. There is no other way. The miracle of the world, the miracle of a rebirth of the senses, the miracle of an accepting heart can only be paid for with blood and bone. No other currency is acceptable.
Think about it: Aside from contagious vision, persuasive articulation, and the courage to hire people more adept in every discipline, what characteristic could be more important for leader so to possess than accepting hearts? And where better to learn the myriad manifestations of the human condition than in literature?
To complete the trifecta, I found a reflection on the absence of books and literature in the form of this article — “I Have Killed My Books” — about the author’s misbegotten decision to rid herself of her books in the interests of logistics and lightening her load in the process of moving:
Everything is wrong, abnormal. Three-quarters of the way into my life I’ve had the ground taken from under my feet. I have damaged my connection to the little girl frightened of her Struwwelpeter book. When I began to write on a computer, when I abandoned the typewriter, I didn’t look back. I don’t miss my turn-table or my cassette player. I’m not a luddite, I’m a modernist. But a part of the cliff has fallen into the sea. There are not enough books here. The sight of the bare shelves shames me. What have I done?
In one of my recent moves, I parted company with 15 cartons full of books, donating them to a sale at a local library. But they were all reference books, critical-theory tomes, arcane philosophical tracts, and specialized dissertations on all manner of intellectual nonsense. I kept every volume of my literature.
My books contain my collected thoughts. I’d be diminished without them.
Image by geralt, courtesy of pixabay.com.