A fiction fan, Brown says that in this age of globalization there are plenty of lessons to be learned from international novels and short stories. "You start to get insight into other cultures and to be entertained at the same time," she says.
The Fashionable Luddite
Don't even ask Kalman Ruttenstein which websites he visits. There's no computer in his life. "I'm back in the twentieth century," says the senior vice president for fashion direction at Bloomingdale's.
Ruttenstein, who has to stay way ahead of fashion trends so he and his team of nine fashion directors can stock the shelves and racks of 30 stores, leaves the web surfing to his assistant. She reads all the online journals and then passes any intriguing bits along to him. This way, he can focus on the fashion trade and consumer magazines he prefers, including DNR, WWD, Elle, Glamour, and Vogue, along with "lots of international publications." He also hits several papers daily, but he only reads the sections that interest him, including the business section of the New York Times and the business and "junk" sections of the New York Post.
He shares what he learns with his entire team. "I tear things out and have my assistant pass things around, or I call people on the phone or call people to my office to discuss [articles]," he says. "I also call vendors or designers to get them up to speed on the written word."
The Photo Collector
O, Southern Living, and In Style aren't just fun reading for event planner Caroline Sewell - they're essential business publications. Because fashion and home-decor trends "filter into the events," Sewell tears pages out of the magazines and then files them for future use. When Sewell meets with clients to present her vision for their upcoming events - from corporate parties to bar mitzvahs and beyond - she often shows them pages from the magazines she's read. "In my business, a picture is worth a thousand words," says the president and only full-time employee of Encore Events. "It makes things much more clear. They say 'Oh, that's what you were talking about.' "
Sewell is well aware that a magazine obsession can get out of hand, so she's "pretty selective" about the titles she buys. She also doesn't let her reading material pile up. She gets rid of the old to focus on the new. "At one point, I would save magazines for years and years, but I'm getting better at purging them," she says. As for the Web, she does collect information from sites, but usually holds off from clicking her way from website to website, because then she'd never have time for her required reading. "You can get in an endless loop," she says.