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Inspiring a storyteller: What A+E Networks CEO reads

Nancy DubucNancy Dubuc
Nancy DubucJeff Katz

Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO of A+E Networks, is the ultimate storyteller: She decides which tales make good television. Dubuc joined A+E Networks in 1999 as a programming executive. When she took over HISTORY in 2007 ratings rose to record heights, and since then ad revenue has increased 97%. Last June she became the head of A+E Networks, where she oversees 10 channels, including HISTORY and Lifetime. Her shows are watched in 160 countries that span 37 languages and reach 350 million households. We wanted to know what feeds the woman who decides what stories make it on air. She answered an email Q&A with Fortune.

How do you make time to read?

Technology certainly makes anytime, anyplace a lot easier. Also with the amount of travel I do, I always try and carve out a little time to be inspired by the art of storytelling.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure read?

I can’t say there’s one thing in this category. Home design magazines, all of them including digital sites now, would be my brain candy read.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

All of the Judy Blume books, because they were laugh-out-loud [funny], and at the same time poignant for a fourth-grade mind. But my favorite read with my kids when they were small was certainly Blueberries for Sal.

What’s one leadership book everyone should read?

I’m currently reading The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. I’m not sure there’s any one book anymore given the rapid pace of business these days. Things simply change too much. I’m a big fan of Jason Hirschhorn’s blog ReDef. It’s great at getting my attention on perspectives and advances I might not otherwise be thinking of during my day-to-day routine.

What’s on your summer reading list?

The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland. It’s intellectual and intimate all at the same time. And there’s a series of three…since I’m prone to binge viewing it’s nice to know I can satisfy that behavior in the literary world.