Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction or non-fiction? — that is the question. And the answer is easy.


I read non-fiction under sufference. I’m a member of a reading group that chooses a fair amount of non-fiction… sometimes I give the books a go, sometimes I don’t even try. Having said that, occasionally I’m surprised by a book I don’t expect to like, and there are a few non-fiction books that I would recommend to anybody:

  • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  • In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan
  • Born to Run by Christopher MacDougall

I also read, from time to time, writing craft books, which I find both fascinating and helpful in small doses. I should probably read far more of these to continue honing craft. Such good intentions!

I do tend to buy a lot of non-fiction books on random topics that I think will make useful resources for research or inspiration. Topics such as mythology, crafts, history, the natural world… but these have a habit of sitting on my bookshelf unread, looking pretty. Every so often I get one out and put it on the coffee table, like a gentle nudge. After a week or so I slip it quietly back into the bookshelf.

There are some non-fiction books I aspire to read one day — such as The Surgeon of Crowthorn by Simon Winchester, or A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

But when it comes to reading, as in whiling away hours immersed in the written word, I will always always always choose to read fiction. I want to be carried away with story and character. I want to laugh and cry and love and hate. I want to be inspired to look at the world with new eyes.

Sometimes non-fiction is a necessary evil, but fiction is where my heart and soul lie.

This was my answer to the second of the 11 questions I was tagged for last week. And now Mike Schulenberg has tagged me again — thanks, Mike! The questions are the same, so I’ll just keep playing.

So what about you? Are there any fabulous non-fiction books I’m missing out on? Please let me know!

15 thoughts on “Fiction or non-fiction?

  1. I love this, Ellen, and I am totally with you. Nonfiction only under sufferance 🙂 Although I have heard great things about Simon Winchester. I have one of his sitting on my bookshelf called “The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary.” Instant must-read.


    1. Thanks, Alina! Hey, that’s the Simon Winchester book that I want to read… It’s known as The Surgeon of Crowthorn over our way (with the other as a sub title). Great minds and all that 🙂


      1. Yeah, mine ended up being a lot longer than I was expecting. But if I had been like, “Uh…Fiction. Next question!”, I can’t imagine the post would’ve been interesting to read. I think your solution is great 🙂


  2. I have to agree – I read non-fiction when I have to, but I love a good novel. I also want to read A Brief History of Time, and a lot of science related books, but when I’m in the library perusing the non-fiction books something in the fiction section calls to me and I turn away thinking ‘Ahh well, *next* time I will, definitely….’


  3. I prefer fiction, too, but I must say I read a fair amount of memoirs and biographies, as well. They have to feel like fiction, though, for me to stick it out through the whole book. I’m also a fan of the Artist’s Way book by Julia Cameron, the Freewriting books by Natalie Goldberg, and some others that escape me right now.


    1. I’ve never really been into memoirs etc… I always wonder if they’ve been spun for drama. One interesting one I did read though was about Malika Oufkir, who was a prisoner in Morocco. Can’t recall offhand the name of the book.


  4. Oh, I don’t know – it probably depends on the mood I’m in. I can drown myself in pretty pictures of handspun yarns and sweater patterns and the like, but that’s probably not what you mean by reading. I do know that my reading habits are changing at the moment. I’m finding it difficult to settle into multipart series or even novels over 200 pages – books that once I would have searched out. I’ve never liked memoir or biography very much either. Short Stories even essays are attracting me so I’m wondering if I simply don’t get hours on end to while away any more.


    1. I don’t seem to have time enough to read the really big novels or series — but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to. I find it very frustrating!

      Short stories — that’s almost another topic entirely… although technically fiction in this debate, I suppose!


      1. I see – we’re in for an argument about short stories are we? 😀 You’re right about the time – I keep buying really big books but they just sit there gathering dust.


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