According to the father of neuroscience, Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal, being able to focus on the dendrites and synapses under the lens of a microscope came thanks to the powerful imagination one develops by reading fiction.
An in-depth article detailing the connection between literature and innovation and Cajal is in the March 2017 edition of The Paris Review.
One of the greatest traits a leader can have is empathy which is proven to be strengthened by reading literature. A break from the "How to Succeed" books is also a mental vacation. If you want to pump up your brain, focus, and imagination with fiction this summer, here are five strong recommendations:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. At nineteen years old, Mary Shelley was holed up with famous poets Lord Byron & Percy Shelley in a castle in Switzerland when it began to rain non-stop preventing any outside exploration. To pass the time, the group began to tell each other ghost stories, with Mary's being the most captivating. Frankenstein, though slow and Gothic in the beginning, has modern themes about the drawbacks of innovation (think about genetically-modified food or the job threat posed by robots). The most compelling theme, however, is what happens in the absence of love.
1984 by George Orwell & The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Given the current political climate, worth reassessing our own stance on government, regulation, and power.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. A deep-dive into the intricacies of power and justice whether native or colonial.
The Counterfeiters by André Gide. Numerous characters and weaving plotlines address themes of what is original and what is a fake. This novel looks at the interplay and differences in both the physical (counterfeit gold coins) and invisible (characters' emotions vis-à-vis relationships).