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Fiction or non-fiction?

Discussion in 'Book club' started by theworm123, Apr 2, 2020.

  1. theworm123

    theworm123 Lead commenter

    Hi all,

    Basically my question is do you prefer fiction or non-fiction books when reading for fun?

    I find it difficult to get into a reading a fiction book because they don’t often take my interest and I tend to judge them from the blurb first.

    Whereas with non-fiction I know what it’s about in advance so I find it easier to get stuck in. For example I have interests in the works of Orwell and the Cold War, so his novels were easier to get stuck into as was Red October, non-fiction books are easy to come by for example my current book is the ‘The Red Flag: a History of Communism’ by David Priestland; it’s a niche area but as a socialist critic of communism it interests me.

    Yet if I picked up a fiction book from a book shop for example HG Wells that isn’t based in real tangible history (allowing for poetic license like Red October did), I’d really struggle to pick an author or a novel because I’d find it hard to be interested by it.

    Any tips or advice or am I too specific in what I want out of a book?
  2. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    Well its your choice. My husband loves historical non fiction and is also currently reading something by Simon Jenkins on the history of London. he reads quite slowly and remembers what he reads. I read fiction, very rarely non fiction, and its like watching drama - you lose yourself in it. I enjoy stories. You might enjoy thrillers - Lee Child or Michael Connelly as a complete change.
    theworm123 likes this.
  3. Lidnod

    Lidnod Senior commenter

    MrL prefers non fiction too. Years ago though I gifted him the James Herriot vet books which bridge the fiction/ non fiction gap, being based on the author’s experiences as a vet. I well remember hearing him chuckling away! Maybe this kind of book would appeal to you so look out for some light semi-autobiographical stories. On the other hand, why worry? I mostly read fiction with just a light sprinkling of non fiction. Read for pleasure, don’t make a chore of it.
    lindenlea likes this.
  4. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    Which is probably why Orson Welles radio-dramatised it as a real-life documentary, bringing his American listeners on to the streets in terror.

    I've studied and taught plenty of fiction in my time, having done my first degree in French and German during the late 1960s, when courses for modern linguists had a high literary content.

    However, my reading has almost exclusively become non-fiction as I pursue my hobbies in retirement. Perhaps that's due to a lifetime professional association between fiction and "set texts". As somebody once said, there's a world of difference between "English Literature" (reading for private pleasure) and "English Lit" (reading for public examinations).

    In my early teenage years, I lost the reading bug for a while but rediscovered it when I chanced upon an old family copy of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. I still have the tome in my bookcase and I picked it up to read the "Redheaded League" the other day and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As a lifelong, male, singleton, the anecdotes are mercifully free of romantic distractions, they help to stimulate the brain in the same way as my crosswords and sudokus do and they are short enough to be read at a single sitting. I thoroughly recommend them.

    Two fiction genres I won't currently give house room to, let alone read, are romance and science fiction. Plenty of alternative printed matter around to provide enjoyment while stimulating the intellect and the imagination.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2020

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