Labor Day weekend, the last weekend of the summer, is here.
And you should spend it reading a novel.
A 2011 post from the now-defunct Interloper Investing blog found its way into my Twitter feed this morning and made clear the argument for heading into fall with a novel in hand.
Because novels are really all about one thing: empathy.
Novels, unlike the news, are true.
Novels create their own internal logic rather than pay fealty to some assumed common idea of what is Right and what is Wrong. There is no PolitiFact pedantry for a novel.
You can love or hate a novel for any reason at all and be completely right in your conclusion.
And while you might be inclined to say that the ability for novels to conform to our own vision is why we need the news, need nonfiction, need the hard truths that make us uncomfortable, and so on, the novel is really what unlocks the possibility of these things.
We will have a reaction to a novel if we agree or disagree with the world we're in, the narrative being advanced, the characters (read: people) we spend time with.
And yet it is explicitly because these are imagined people, imagined places, imagined events that we most clearly confront our own biases, our own prejudices, our own flaws.
It is the solitary experience of an imagined truth that allows us to begin seeing what we're missing in the so-called real world, the world of facts and money and rights and wrongs. Novels are not vehicles for confirming our biases but discovering them.
"The primary lesson of fiction is learning 'this is how people act,' when they're scared, confident, happy, determined or demoralized," the authors write.
"Not how I would act, or how I think they should act, but how the combination of different experiences and different patterns of cognition lead to aggregate outcomes. Empathy."
This post was written in the context of how to be a better investor.
But investing, while ostensibly about teasing out the financial value buried inside certain entities, is really the study of people and stories. Annual reports, in their way, are just very dry novels.
So, why read a novel this weekend?
Because unlike a book about investing, or world history, or how to be an entrepreneur, you're guaranteed to learn something useful.
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