There's research involved with every book, whether it's light or heavy. Sometimes I travel, sometimes I watch videos, sometimes I read.
I wanted to get my mind in gear for a post-apocalyptic future, so I decided to download some audio that would lead me in that direction. This brought me to Thomas Friedman's work, and I have to say that THE WORLD IS FLAT did the trick. The content will help me shape books 2 and 3 in my BLOODLANDS series, when I get into the urban aspects of the future, more than it'll aid in this first book I'm working on now. Still, it got my mind where it needed to be.
This book should be entitled, "Please America, Let's Get Our Butts in Gear," and it's a gentler companion piece to the book I'm listening to now, I.O.U.S.A. (which I'll talk about later). FLAT is about the globalization of world economy, and I came away from it thinking that if we, as a society, don't get off of the laurels we've earned in the past, we're going to be run over by countries that have become very ambitious. For example, the book talks a lot about how India took great advantage of the emergence of "connectivity" and how that has led to their dominance in securing outsourced jobs.
The central metaphor of the world being flat refers to how globalization has made for a more level playing field. One thing I found particularly interesting was the suggestion of how an individual can compete in this new, wider-spread economy: become "special" (someone so good at what they do that they're highly in demand--a sports star, a movie star, etc.), become "specialized" (excelling in a certain niche area), or become "flexible" (be willing to learn and apply your knowledge to new, emerging areas). If we don't follow this advice, it seems likely that we'll be left behind.
Reading this was scary. : )
(But not as scary as I.O.U.S.A.)
I'm not going to tip my hand about precisely how I spun what I learned from this book into my own story (Let's just say most of it has to do with creating a future urban society that's not aping BLADE RUNNER.), but I recommend it for interesting reading about what's happening all around us.