Fiction or non-fiction?

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

Fiction.

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 comments

  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.

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    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 🙂

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      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 🙂

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  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….’

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  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.

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    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.

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  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.

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    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!

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      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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