Not everyone is a reader. From the moment we learn to read, we separate ourselves into two groups: readers and non-readers. By non-readers I’m not saying they never read, just that they don’t read books. They may read articles, websites, etc., but they don’t commit to longer readings.
I am a reader. From the moment I learned to read I embraced it wholeheartedly. Books spoke to me, the characters came alive and I knew them, the worlds drew me in and surrounded me. Every book was a different adventure, an essentially different experience. Whether I was reading Ella Enchanted or The Hobbit, Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, Alas, Babylon or Pilgrim’s Progress, each enfolded me in another’s ideas, thoughts, and beliefs, and I didn’t have to agree with it to enjoy the book.
Studies have shown reading can increase EQ (Emotional Quotient), the emotional equivalent of IQ, which measures the ability to read and interact with others, primarily through empathy. Empathy is the ability to imagine yourself in the other person’s situation. Reading well-written fiction exercises this mental muscle by calling on you to see yourself in all the characters.
I learned to read when I was 4. While I still remember the first book I ever read (Clarence the Horse), I don’t remember all the books I’ve read. When I was 5 I started reading Nancy Drew, at 6 the Hardy Boys. At 8 I read “The Raven” by Poe and started my explorations into Dickens, Dante, and Shakespeare (I didn’t make it far). As a teenager I delved further, reading around half of Dickens’ books, all of R.L. Stevenson, and a good portion of Jules Verne (I read Around the World in 80 Days while in foster care at 10).
Not all readers are fiction readers like myself. For some strange reason, most of the men in my life who have been readers weren’t fiction readers. I don’t know why people who read non-fiction think they are better than fiction readers. Yes, non-fiction contains data and facts… but all that does is add to your knowledge pool, not to your EQ. Fiction readers typically also read non-fiction, just not to the exclusion of all other books the way non-fiction readers do.
Furthermore, EQ is more predictive of career success than IQ. (About the only exception is if you are a brilliant, but eccentric scientist or mathematician a la Einstein and etc.) Of course, most within the STEM fields are low on EQ because they are more focused on the data than the people.
So, if you want to improve your odds for that promotion, read a good novel before you apply. The raised EQ lasts for up to a month after reading an hour of high-quality literature. It might mean the difference between getting a raise/promotion and not. If you look down on fiction readers, perhaps you should study the data… maybe it’s time to shift tactics if you want to improve your career outlook.
TLDR: good books can improve your job outlook.