Fiction vs Non Fiction – 83

PhD Life

For the last couple of years, I have been very good at making time to read. I have read around 40 books in the last year and a half, 95 % of which are non-fiction. When I started reading voraciously, I really enjoyed it; however, I have found that with non-fiction there are diminishing returns as a lot of material is repeated in slightly different ways.

Most of us are creatures of habit, and tend to read about things we enjoy. The problem with this is that over-time you end up reading the same things over and over. I tend to only read around science and finance, with the occasional biography thrown in. Whenever I have tried to read fiction It always becomes an endurance challenge rather than a pleasure.

The books never seem to capture me; I tend to resent them whilst reading them, and I always think that I could be doing something more productive with my time. I persevere with it because it seems that everyone else loves reading fiction and maybe I could enrich my education by reading some decent books.

So far, with the exception of George Orwell’s 1984 that I listened to the audiobook of, I have not found this to be the case. For me, non-fiction is infinitely more valuable. However, I didn’t get to where I am today by giving up so easily. I have decided to give the classics a shot. Partly because they should be good, and partly because they are feely available, and therefore, only a loss of time if I hate them.

There are tons of sites for free, old books if you care to use google, but the one I have used is https://www.planetebook.com/ebooks/. I have downloaded a selection and put them on my kindle.

I started with Ulysses by James Joyce. I must admit that I have got sixty pages in and I hate it. The prose is written in such a way that I cannot believe anyone is enjoying it. The sentences are so verbose that it seems like the author is mocking me. It truly is the stuff of David Foster-Wallace’s wet dream.

I have now switched to ‘A tale of two cities’ by Charles Dickens – hopefully this will be more ‘my kind of thing’. I do not have any criteria for how I am selecting these classics, so feel free to recommend some. I guess my current strategy is to go with the ones I have heard of.

I realise that there is a very good chance that those who are reading this are writers of fiction, so to you I ask: why?

Why do you read/write fiction. For me, reading is a pursuit of knowledge, it is an activity that I have to put effort into to achieve. I wouldn’t say it was something I do to relax as it actually requires a lot of time and effort. Time and effort that I could be using to learn a new skill.

I cannot read before bed if I want to actually follow what the author is saying; at the end of the day I am usually far to tired to follow a story, so I normally do my reading first thing in the morning with a coffee. It is kind of like a warm-up for the rest of the day.

At the moment, other than 1984, I am not sure I could recommend any work of fiction over a non-fiction title.

If you had one book to recommend to convert someone like me to the world of fiction what would it be?

I read a lot as is required by my studies and I have to admit that from what I have read so far, the technical, dry, plotless manuscripts that make up scientific literature rate higher than the works of fiction I have read over the last few years.

Maybe I am just wired differently?

Author: Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

75 thoughts on “Fiction vs Non Fiction – 83”

  1. I am a voracious reader, preferring fiction and. more specifically, the murder/mystery/suspense genre. My reasons are two-fold: One, reading a fiction story is a way of escaping reality for a while, choosing instead to delve into the lives of others. Two, this genre always reveals a “villain” with a usually perverse psychology, and I find that fascinating. I will read a biography or auto-biography if I am interested in the person behind the story. I hope you will find interesting reading outside what you are currently required to read for learning purposes.

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  2. If you have started ‘The Tale of Two Cities’ than you are reading my suggestion for fiction. As a kid, I also loved ‘Battle for Britain’. Though they are fictional in characters and storyline, these time period pieces still offer a lot in knowledge of life at those times.

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  3. My favorite movie is ‘Watership Down.’ The Book is even better, although I don’t have a favorite book. As for why fiction, when I was in high school a teacher told me that Jesus used fiction (parables) in his ministry. I’ve never forgotten that.

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  4. I write fiction but don’t find reading it relaxing. Instead, it’s a challenge to my way of thinking – a good one.
    As to the value of fiction, it can draw out the experience of living. It’s not dealing in the facts of life, but rather what it’s like to be a human experiencing those facts.
    Finally, some recommendations – I’d steer clear of the ‘classics’ for something more modern; if you like 1984, give The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami a try. It approaches the idea of living in an oppressive society from a very different and more personal place.

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  5. Maybe you will enjoy “Three Men in a boat” by Jerome K Jerome, it’s pretty funny and simple. I also love reading Agatha Christie, the way her mind creates layered interesting characters like Hercule Poirot is amazing. Perhaps you would enjoy reading “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell. Maybe first dip your feet on these books before heading on to old boring classics haha. I enjoy reading Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling too. Read what you enjoy and toss the rest away! 🙂

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  6. I both read and write fiction. I have always loved fiction because I have too much reality in my reality, so I need the escape. I need to know it’s not real and tend to favor stories that would never BE real, such as fantasy. This doesn’t mean that I don’t read any nonfiction. In fact, I own several and have borrowed some from the library I work at when I find something that piques my interest. I love to learn. BUT, with nonfiction books, I feel as though a 350 page book could probably easily be 50 at most. The authors tend to repeat and repeat and repeat. They say it in a slightly different way, yes, but it’s SO REPETITIVE to me. Or they do the, “Here’s a case that’s an example of your issue/interest/whatever, and in a moment I’m going to show you what to do.” But then it’s another 150 pages of cases/scenarios before they even begin to get to the meat of the matter. When I learn, the bluster drives me nuts. Just tell me. Teach me. Don’t ramble off empty scenarios or your credentials. Fiction though is meant to be an escape and I tend to read really late at night just before bed, so it just works better for me most of the time.

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      1. Hey, as a literature student, I felt like replying your comment. What you said isn’t false. The more the book have more pages the least some informations are important whereas in a short story for example every single detail is to be noted and taken into huge consideration

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  7. I think you are right that people are wired differently. You shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t enjoy reading fiction, and you shouldn’t feel bad about not finishing a book if it’s not doing anything for you. I write fiction, and have always loved reading it. When I was a child, I spent a lot of time in my imagination, making up worlds and adventures and so on. Some people would see this as escapism and a total waste of time, but I think that some of us use our imaginations to make sense of the world, work out problems, test out ideas, etc. Asking “What would it be like if…” can be a very useful exercise, and I think that’s what fiction does for us. The best fiction is a study of human nature, and teaches you something or makes you think about serious ideas while you are being entertained. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, for example, might be seen as silly escapist fantasy, but at its core it carries a warning about what happens when like-minded nations don’t form strong alliances against potential threats. Some people love it, but for others, a history textbook is a better way to learn this lesson.

    I should also point out that the classics from the 19th century are hard for most people to read now because our use of the language has changed so much.

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  8. I like “The Other Side of Midnight” by Sidney Sheldon. I read it when I was like eight (don’t ask, I had weird parents–they gave that to me when I fell asleep reading War and Peace). To this day, the way he wrote that book inspired my own style. My first non-fiction was “The Story of My Life by Helen Keller” when I was five. I loved that one but, again, I’m weird and read dictionaries for fun. 😁

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  9. Seems that if you like the down-n-dirty sciencey, technical details and such you might like you some science fiction, maybe? I don’t get into sci-fi too much just because of all the endless description necessary for the writers to prove their technical, world-building chops.

    However, outside of sci-fi, I would recommend to someone with your literary sensibilities who enjoys 1984 Golding’s Lord of the Flies or Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

    Loved the post. Happy reading!

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  10. My reasons for reading fiction are similar to yours for reading non-fiction. You gain knowledge through reading about different worlds and about different people’s lives. I do read some non-fiction although it tends to mostly auto-biography and biography so not that different from fiction, I guess. Personally, I am not a lover of the classics and I didn’t get on that well with A Tale of Two Cities. My favourite classics are probably Dracula and Frankenstein. I’m also really fond of H.G. Wells, particularly The Time Machine. If you liked 1984, what about other dystopia – Brave New World, for example, or A Clockwork Orange.

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    1. To be frank, it sounds to me like reading itself isn’t an activity that you particularly enjoy. You note that you enjoy reading non-fiction because you can learn things from it. That’s not the same thing as enjoying the act of reading, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

      Plenty of intelligent people don’t enjoy reading (and plenty of not-so-intelligent people do enjoy reading). In fact, I would argue that, at least in the United States and similar countries, it appears that people who don’t enjoy reading outnumber those who do, including many productive people who hold advanced degrees. There are even very intelligent people who actively dislike reading. Knowing how to read is important; enjoying the act of reading simply makes it more likely that you’ll read.

      That said, it sounds to me like you want to cultivate a taste for reading. If you don’t already enjoy reading, however, starting with “the classics” strikes me as a bit like starting with broccoli if you don’t like vegetables.

      I happen to love broccoli, but I like vegetables in general. If someone who doesn’t like vegetables asks me how to eat more of them, my answer is always to ask, “What *do* you like to eat?” and to suggest some “starter” veggies with a similar flavor profile. Broccoli combines a complex and unusual flavor profile with an unusual set of textures, and eating it “because one should” tends to add a dash of resentment, which is nobody’s favorite seasoning.

      Reading works the same way.

      Many of the classics are legitimately great books, but many of them are also dry (or florid) and complex and written in an English that doesn’t feel natural to a 21st-century reader. Joyce, in particular, can be hard going even for those of us who love reading: he writes In a particular fin-de-siècle Anglo-Irish style that is lovely read aloud by someone for comforts it is comfortable, but which involves a high cognitive load; in addition, his stories aren’t typically driven by fast-paced plots.

      The classics in general, and especially those written more than fifty or sixty years ago, require a high cognitive loa—often simply because the English in which they’re written isn’t the English we speak and write now. It follows the same basic grammatical rules, but is quite different in terms of style, pacing, and even vocabulary. Likewise, many of the classics use the social mores of a given time and place (which may be quite unlike out own) as pivotal plot points, but take them as assumed, which can make the actions, thoughts, and feelings of the characters counterintuitive, grating, or even baffling. One may possess a keen understanding of the importance of social class in 19th-century New York and even understand how modes of dress signaled social class and social roles at the time and still have to use a fair number of clock-cycles to hold that information at hand in order to process Wharton’s magnificent book, ~The Age Of Innocence.~

      If you don’t already deeply enjoy reading, your brain will ask, very sensibly, “What’s the point of all this work?”

      The reply, “All the experts agree that this is a great book!” won’t make it more palatable in the least.

      You’re strongly oriented towards practical knowledge, so if you do want to keep reading the classics, it might be good to gain a sense of what specific, *practical* insights you might gain—in short, to appeal to a more tangible and thus a more powerful motivating factor. Struggling through the classics simply because they’re freely available and they’re supposed to be good (or worse, good for you) will only make you even more averse to reading fiction.

      However, the classics aren’t the only good books out there, and a great many excellent books aren’t considered classics. I’m with others who have suggested that you start with books that hew closer to your tastes. It might also help to begin by reading short stories.

      A well-written mystery can be both an enjoyable read and a way of exercising one’s logical faculties, so Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories (which are both considered to rank amongst the classics and old enough to be in the public domain) might be a good place to start, with the caveat that they’re still very much works of their time, so the actual reading may still feel like work. As you read more of them, the cognitive load involved will decrease, and you’ll very likely come to enjoy them more.

      As for me, I enjoy reading for its own sake, and I read almost compulsively. This doesn’t mean I enjoy books that are badly written: I don’t. I also don’t enjoy overcooked broccoli.

      I grew up in a household where books and the vast (if sometimes questionable) library that is the internet were readily available, and I’ve never had much taste for watching videos (unless the subject is already intensely interesting to me, video tends not to hold my attention: watching it isn’t an active process like reading is). If I was, for whatever reason, obliged to do something stationary, reading was pretty much my option: so I began reading very early and read a lot.

      I enjoy some fiction immensely and some not at all, and it often comes down to the music of the author’s words. I love some of the classics and not others. I also love some very contemporary books that haven’t appeared on the horizons of academia. I like non-fiction as well. I’m the kind of person who can enjoy reading a dictionary and, indeed, the kind who can’t stop himself reading one if it’s lying there open.

      I write both nonfiction and fiction because, honestly, it never occurred to me not to. I write stories because they’re there in my head anyway—my fiction-writing process is more like carving a sculpture from a block of marble than like building one up in wire, foil, and clay. I write non-fiction because I enjoy writing about my areas of expertise and also because I enjoy the process of learning something new through research and writing.

      Anyway, sorry this is so long. I didn’t mean to write so much, but there you have it ^-^ Likewise, apologies for any weird autocorrect errors that I may have missed. I’m writing this on my tablet, which is worse than useless for copy-editing ^-^’

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      1. Thanks for taking the time to write all of this. Much of what you write struck a chord with me and I think you got the measure of my in this regard!

        I like the broccoli analogy. I was trying to read the brothers Karamazov on the train this morning and it wasn’t grabbing me . Maybe I should start with something a little closer to home.

        thanks for your input 🙂

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        1. You’re most welcome! I’m glad helped. I’ve definitely had similar experiences—I’m not great at arithmetic, so I thought I hated math until I got to algebra, which I love, and which gave me a reason to work on the bits of arithmetic that I had struggled with because it let me enjoy algebra more 😅 Kind of different, but it helped me find my way.

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      2. Actually I love reading. I like losing myself in other worlds. I think that you do learn from reading but that is not meant to sound like it’s a lesson in school. I said that because I think it’s true but it is not my primary motivation for reading. I read because I would be genuinely lost if I didn’t. Much the same as if I didn’t write, I wouldn’t feel human.

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  11. Given your predilection for science and facts, and your comments on 1984, I would suggest one of my favorite authors, Isaac Asimov.

    Asimov was a professor of biochemistry at Boston University and wrote around 500 books and short stories. Look for his hard science fiction books first (he wrote in many genres)

    I especially prize my copy of Isaac Asimov’s Book of Facts. It is not fiction, but some of his writing may appeal to you more than the “Classics”

    Let us know how it goes.

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  12. Oh man, I’m the exact opposite of you! And I think it really must be what you first started off reading, my first book was The Hobbit at the age of six and I was hooked. It also helped that I had a teacher who wrote herself and created a book with all of her students as characters. I loved that I could disappear from the real world into my own or someone else’s imagination, and marveled at the amazing story that must be created by them first in their head. I loved the old classics of course (Wuthering Heights/Jane Eyre etc), but am mainly a fantasy fiction girl myself…

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  13. I really wouldn’t start with Ulysses! Joyce made it purposefully complex and most people who study it break it up into chunks. Given your interest in factual subjects have you tried any historical fiction? Maybe something where you know something of the era. Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is very well researched. Or Ellen Feldman’s Scottsboro about the famous injustice. Or also The Underground Railroad. An excellent piece of historical or political fiction can have just about as much to say about a period of time as non-fiction. Just a thought!

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  14. Perhaps it’s how you associate fiction in your brain. I love all genres of fiction. I find that if a book doesn’t grab my interest by the 10 chapter I’m done. My advise try to remember in fiction it’s about the characters (who and what is their nature). You may like ray Bradbury I suggest The Illustrated Man, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, Aldous Huxley Brave New World, Point Counter Point. A few of my favorites to get you going 😉

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  15. I’ve definitely got friends who fall into the non-fiction camp, so you’re not alone!

    Fiction is a form of communication and learning, but it’s indirect. It presents scenarios that leave you to extrapolate what you will, rather than giving you facts and data.

    Interpretation is key – what one person loves, another will hate, because you create meaning by taking fiction and combining it with your own internal world (your experiences, your culture, your knowledge).

    The point of stories is that they can change the way we think.

    I find that good fiction challenges me to reflect on the real world, to question assumptions, find humour in observations, and weave vivid images of places that exist only in another person’s mind.

    It’s difficult to say what you might connect with, but I think many of the classics are valued for their significance to culture rather than their individual ability to draw in a reader so they may not be a great way to find something that pulls you in.

    The below are novels that I ended up rolling around my head for weeks after reading, though they may not end up being your thing.

    Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie, a space opera that challenges ideas around language, gender, and identity.

    The Fifth Season, by N K Jemisin, reflects on what it means to be human in a dystopian alternative version of Earth.

    Thud, by Terry Pratchett, reflects ideas about racism and conflict through an amusing spin on police solving a crime in the Discworld (TP’s alternative universe).

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  16. Lots of good suggestions here. I should also point out that there’s fiction, and then there’s fiction. All those genre and subgenre categories exist for a good reason. Many readers love certain genres and get nothing out of others. Many of the classics fall into the category of ‘literary fiction’. Some (though certainly not all) of this genre is perhaps best described as art written primarily for other artists. While it may be great art, it simply may not be accessible, understandable, or enjoyable to a broad audience. So you might have to hunt around a bit to figure out what you do and don’t like.

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  17. High schooler here, and amateur sci-fi writer. For me, I read for knowledge, yes, but I also read for the story and the emotional impact. Good stories ask questions and explore that. I love sci-fi because it makes you think. It makes you wonder and imagine. To me, good sci-fi asks the question “what does it mean to be human?” and through fictional stories, writers take readers through exploring different aspects of human nature. Through stories we acquire knowledge, maybe not practical facts or advice, but a greater and deeper understanding of who we are as human beings, the negative and the positive. And anyway, it’s fun.

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  18. I personally wish I liked non-fiction more, but I am just not classy enough for that. I’m a big fan of The Dresden Files and Terry Pratchett’s worlds. They’re fun, they don’t stress me out, and it’s a really nice escape from reality. Also, Terry Pratchett’s unseen university has an extremely dry, extremely funny commentary from “professors” that could make me wheeze I’d laugh so hard. And death is really good as well. However, all that to say, if you really enjoy what you’re reading, keep on! Everyone has different tastes, but yours are the classy ones so you should be super proud and should probably not come to the dark side.

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  19. I don’t read much fiction anymore, though I read a lot of it in high school and college. The one book I’d recommend will either speak to you or it won’t. Nobody is neutral about it. They either love it or hate it. I read it in high school and it electrified me. I couldn’t stop reading it until I’d finished, which took a couple of days because it’s a 1200-page book. I read it several more times after that. My mother knew the author, but I never met her myself. Check it out:

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  20. I agree with your comments on both Joyce, whom I find it impossible to read and Dickens who, in my opinion, is one of the best writers to ever live. Enough of the subjective though. I agree with some of the comments here that you’re probably wired differently. One suggestion,it got me hooked to his work, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. Keep it going…

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  21. There’s nothing one could say that would make a human being WANT to read, and certainly not if you can’t let yourself slide into another person’s shoes to experience their adventure, emotions, and knowledge.
    I don’t like Non-Fiction. I enjoy knowledge, but I like acquiring it naturally. If I don’t know something I look it up, but I don’t read books about it. That’s not learning to me, that’s just homework.
    As to why?
    I write it because I want to be something else. I want to voice my truth and my heart in an easy to swallow format.
    Why do I read it?
    Because I want so much more than this life. Human nature and emotions are some of the most enticing pieces of knowledge.
    Don’t read the classics first, Not if you dislike fiction. I say this because it’ll make you hate fiction even more. Pick a time period you enjoyed and find some stories set in it. Historical fiction may be up your alley.
    Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause is my favorite read though.

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  22. Given that you’re a PhD student of the sciences, I suggest Asimov. He himself has a PhD, wrote both fiction and nonfiction, and is the man we’re modeling our AI laws after.

    As for the questions–I both read and write fiction. To me it holds great value as a way to teach people things or get them to think outside of their heads. Fiction is a vital cultural piece for society; just look at Star Trek or Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

    It’s okay if some people just don’t enjoy it; we’re all a bit different! 😀 It is nice to see you’re giving it a go, though.

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  23. I have been “suffering” the same kind of infliction, finding fact books more engaging. It is also because I read a lot and because I write. I noticed writing fiction changed my perspective for books and for what I love and what I don’t. But there is a “cure,” and that has always been finding those storytellers that speak to me. Those with opinions. Those who say a thing or two about the world we live in. I never get disappointed with Kurt Vonnegut. But finding such a storyteller, in general, is a struggle, you have to go through dozens of books which only gets you frustrated, and you noticed what others love doesn’t always work for you, and you keep wondering why? It’s just like you wrote that we all (you) are wired differently. What speaks to us at that moment doesn’t speak to others or even to us in a different moment. It is listening to oneself what you need or what you hunger for. Like now, I have been searching philosophical fiction while reading philosophy books at the side. Before that, I read everything that came across about nature, both fiction and fact. And I have this feeling space, time, and the universe is going to be next what fascinates me. Good luck finding something to read.

    P.S. it’s okay not to read as well, or maybe you read too much and need a break?

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  24. I went through phases with my reading, when I was trying to build my reading habit, I had to start with reading alot of fiction books. I’ve enjoyed thrillers mostly because once I start I have to know the ending, I became so engrossed in fiction that I was able to finish a book in 3-4 days time, prior to that..I could maybe read one or two books per year.

    After that I decided to move on to self help books and biographies, I didn’t think I’d like them, but I enjoy them as much as I enjoy fiction. These days I try to separate reading into two category, “leisure reading” (fictions) and “non leisure” reading (where I read for the purpose of learning).

    I reap different benefits from different books, with fiction, I find that it really enhances my imagination and it’s a great way to distress and relax, a departure from reality, I also enjoy reading on the treadmills at times, they really make the time goes by quickly.

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      1. Being a fiction writer, I find it hard to build a story without knowing the facts or get in touch with real-life situations to some extent. Non-fiction books and documentaries are as fun as they are necessary for my works.
         
        As for why I read and enjoy fictions, it’s probably similar to why you watch movies, except it gives me more freedom to use the part of brain that works on imaginations and creativity. It’s like doing brain exercise, the same reason why we play duolingo or why we’re addicted to algebra (I was in high school). I believe everyone has a preference for which part of the brain that they want to improve. For me, I am obsessed with the part that induces creativity, emotions, and imaginations. When I find a good story, something that can move me, I feel good, hence I repeat the action. It makes me think of something I have never think before, like the nature of humans in a particular setting, but with style. It’s harder to digest sometimes, but when you’re tuning in, it can also be so much easier like listening to a friend talking about their life. It’s about being lost in someone’s thought, but instead of listening to them telling you about what they actually want to say, you kinda figure it out yourself. Biography sometimes feels like fiction, but it awes you in a very different manner. A good biography makes you appreciate the subject. Good fiction makes you appreciate the writer’s intelligent.
         
        Anyway, you have a knack for bringing up interesting topics to discuss.

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  25. Super to read your blogs : )
    Keep up the good work, the more you do the better and easier. Ask if you ever need support.
    Re books: The brain is like any muscle, build by finding books you might enjoy. You could try reading two books at once, fiction and non fiction. Dip in as you feel inclined. You are not likely to get confused as they will be very different. Also, have a non fiction book ready as an incentive before you start any fiction. Dickens is maybe best for long winter days. Two cities is hard to get into, have a look at Oliver Twist or Sketches from Boz which is super short or take a scientific approach, google Dickens and food and choose a book to study based on something you are interested in. If you liked Brave New World, his other books are all quite different and worth considering, Down and Out in London and Paris is good. Brave New World By Aldous Huxley and Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess may be worth a glance. Someone mentioned Frankenstein, its short : ) James Bond, Ian Fleming, yes Bond and also Sherlock Holmes are considered classics. Bill Bryson’s, A Short History of Nearly Everything, is a mix of humour and lots of Facts. Zola, The Earth is gritty he writes realistically about people. Don’t laugh, there are loads of great teenage fiction books and they can be quick and fun to read. Even some teaching courses have childrens and teen fiction on their lists. Fast track to the reward book you have lined up!

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  26. Read MODERN science fiction. Example, The Revenger by Alistair Reynolds. A very surprising world concept. Space pirates. Buried treasure. Phantom weapons. Heroism. Vengeance. Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels are science driven. Red Mars. Blue Mars. Green Mars.
    Fiction is never a waste of time. Hagseed by Margaret Atwood is exquisitly funny. I quite often research things by reading novels about things I’m interested in. I learned about war on shipping (WW2) by reading The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat. John LeCarre writes spy novels. You can learn a lot about different countries from his novels.

    Read GOOD non fiction. The Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition. As soon as their ship was caught in the ice, Shackleton dropped his personal ambitions. He brought back all his men, which 19th century explorer can say that?
    Another gripping non fiction read is Deep Survival by Jerry (?) Gonzales. I read that at least once a year.
    Atul Gawende’s Better, about how surgeons might be able to stop killing so many patients is another gripping read.
    Nothing repetitive in any of these.

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  27. Oh, you’ve presented me with a challenge. For me, when I read fiction, it’s to escape and relax. I really like to delve into the realm of what if? That and books about journeys. So my question for you is what do you do to relax? I find that the key to enjoying reading is to correlate it to things that you enjoy in real life. It sounds like you already do this with nonfiction, so we just need to translate it to fiction so you can find something that you like. You like science, what kind of science? What sort of biographies do you like?

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  28. These days I try and alternate between non-fiction and fiction. Am reading Dune at the moment, it has a narrative POV which is uncommon (3rd person omnititant, i think) and that makes it quite refreshing.
    Just finished reading Peterson’s 12 rules for life and next I am going to read 21 lessons for the 21st century. (Though I might read part 6 of the wheels of time as I want to get that finished before the TV series comes out and ruins the whole thing.)

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  29. We’re in a similar thread right now, I always read exclusively nonfiction but have decided this year to read the classics. I’ve read Walden by Henry David Thoreau and The Prince by Machiavelli so far… I’m currently working on Crime and Punishment but it’s a hard read. As for what fiction books to read… I’m a space opera fan, so I’ll always recommend anything by Iain M Banks. Consider Phlebas and The Algebraist are both phenomenal books, in my opinion.

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  30. I am exactly the same. I dont even remember the last book of fiction I read. For me, I read to support my life. To gain knowledge from those that have gone before. I find inspiration from seeing life through the eyes of others and so I enjoy reading about actual experiences. That being said, its wonderful to escape in to a good bit of fiction. Once you find it, you’ll make time out of no time to finish it!

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  31. Great post!
    I used to hate reading fiction with a fiery passion. The books I was forced to read in school bored the life out of me. That was until I read Jane Eyre. Something about that book just thrilled me–once I got passed all of the non-essential chapters of backstory. But, I was unable to find anything else that sparked me for many years, so like you, I read a mountain of non-fiction–and screenplays.
    Eventually, I allowed myself to read the books I had always been told to avoid–by teachers and my mother–because they were “trashy” and “not real books”. The books in question were Mills and Boon romantic suspense. The book covers always promised so much fun and adventure. And, when I finally read one, I was sucked into that book’s world.
    It was those books that made me switch from screenwriting to fiction writing. I wanted to take readers on an adventure, to give them an enjoyable escape hatch from what’s going on in their lives.
    I firmly believe that if you’re a writer, you first have to be a reader. I’ve learned so much about writing from reading those M&B books. I’d say as much as I have from non-fiction writing books.

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  32. I have the opposite problem – I tend to get bored easily with non-fiction because, like you mention, it is repetitive. I find many nonfiction books are repetition in nature throughout, and many chapters are repetition of the last. However, the same happens in fiction, especially if you read too much of the same author – it is interesting to see how authors evolve over time. My personal favorite is Jodi Picoult. She tackles controversial real-life issues in a method I haven’t seen in other fiction authors. Her earlier works were more simple, and more predictable. Her books post-The Storyteller are phenomenal and thought provoking reads (not saying her earlier works weren’t, but she truly gets better with each book!)

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  33. Dystopian fiction is my favourite genre. It reminds me how fragile the world really is. It inspires me to be a better person in a doomed to be society. It also encourages me to build and acquire skills to be self sufficient and thus to be a better contributer to the society.

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  34. You are definitely wired differently and that’s okay! I wish I could enjoy non-fiction like you do, but I am a reader and writer of fiction because I love a good story and I love seeing characters tackle problems and develop relationships. Reading is such an individual experience and everyone likes different things! However, for a science-y wired brain like you, I have a few recommendations (and I did not read previous comments so I have no idea if these have already been mentioned): Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Maybe you had to read this in high school like I did, but I still loved it. The original sci-fi. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Science-y as all heck. But so fun. And honestly, I know this isn’t a classic, but The Martian by Andy Wier. If you’ve seen the movie but not the book, give the book a try. This guy did his research. Holy cow, so much technical detail.

    Side note: I forgot to inform you last week that I tagged you in a mystery blogger post! Participation is optional, but you can check it out here: https://wordsandothermalarky.com/2019/08/09/mystery-blogger-award-tag/

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  35. Wow, to compete with all these wordy comments…challenge accepted!!
    I recommend My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Don’t underestimate the complexity of juvenile fiction. George wrote her books from a research perspective and were always set in nature.

    If you want something that moves fast without being condescending but can be very short and light, Juv fiction. Ala Harry Potter etc, cmon now. I had an Intro Soc prof that made us do a book report on 15 juv fiction books (ikr), but it was a great idea. Best one of that list was Top of the World about an Inuit man in the 1900’s. Amazing.
    Also, finance and…what? You probably need to get out more. In the trees. My Side of the Mountain.
    If you have read it, excellent. Then I suggest Dune cause the other stuff you read sounds really dry, haha. You sound unique. Glad to have bumped into you on WP.
    I read Ulysses for my HS senior english project (by my own choice). It was pretty dang stupid.

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  36. I’ll go against the grain of what you’re asking for and say non-fiction does have the edge over fiction. I should really read more in general, but when I do, it’s usually articles about concrete happenings or experiences. Like any polar spectrum, non-fiction and fiction divides preference-extremists between the desire of being fully immersed in one’s personal existence and the desire of escaping it respectively. Fiction definitely has its rewards, but no one can ever actually live another’s life. Therefore, fiction entertains more than it enriches.

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  37. words resonate and writing is a way of seeing. We all see differently and speak differently, understand differently. No need to apologize for preferring non-fiction. It’s like saying you prefer one type of music rather that another. I find Dickens to be a bit boring. Shakespeare may be the bard, but he can fuck off as far as I’m concerned. Find your mojo and stick to what you like. You don’t need to name drop, nobody cares what you read. Just read. Or don’t read. It’s a private pleasure. One of the few still available. One of my favourite books is Growing up in the Gorbals. It finds a home in my heart. But we all think differently and feel differently. We shouldn’t all expect to like the same foods or the same books. Taste it and see. Your palette is non-fiction, but strange foods can grow on us.

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  38. We’re all wired differently, that’s what makes being human awesome 🙂 I like reading for knowledge as well, but I adore fiction – it is learning to see how other people think other people think. It opens the mind up to POV’s that are not your own and expands your boundaries. Imagination, what a gift! Many commenters have given suggestions, I’ll leave you with a few of my own some are non-fiction that read like fiction and vice versa
    Non-fiction: Walden -Thoreau
    Non-fiction: The Warmth of Other Suns – Wilkerson
    Non-fiction: My First Summer in the Sierra: The Journal of a Soul on Fire – Muir
    Fiction: Song of Ice and Fire (basis of Game of Thrones) Martin
    Non-Fiction: What Are People For? – Berry
    Non-Fiction: Deep South- Four Seasons on Back Roads (anything by Paul Theroux is interesting)

    I’m all for encouraging people to read, read, read (and write!)
    Be well,

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  39. I’ll read either, but it’s usually either historical fiction or else non-fiction history books. As with music, films, food or anything else, we’re all different, and it’d be very boring if we were all into the same things! If you’re reading the classics, I prefer Jane Austen or the Brontes: I don’t like the way Dickens depicts Victorian England. Jules Verne is good as well.

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    1. I am a prolific reader of some fiction because it displays the awesome expansiveness of creativity and use of the mind beyond logic and reason. I tend to get lost in a book or a series, such a those written by Kathleen & W. Michael Gear. Both are archeologists that have unearthed Native American sites and have used artifacts to spin the tale of those who have gone before us. Their series such as People of the Wolf, People of the Fire, People of the Lightning each center a story around the life of the first people in America that is backed by factual information on the use of plants, animals, medicines, traditions, ceremonies, belief systems and their way of life.

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