Monday Musing – Fiction or Non?


Do you read nonfiction regularly?  Do you read it in a different way or place than you read fiction?


fc9781416578932Perfect timing for this question, as I’m reading a nonfiction book just now – A House in Fez, by Suzanna Clarke, who purchased an ancient, dilapidated riad  (home) in Morrocco, and undertook the process of restoring it to it’s traditional beauty.   Clarke’s experience seems so daunting – not only is she dealing with a huge language barrier, but a major cultural one as well, living in a Muslim country where the strictures applied to women are so stringent.  I’ve read similar books in this vein – Peter Mayle’s series on moving to Provence, and Frances Mayes books about her villa in Tuscany.  I’ve always enjoyed reading about people moving to foreign cultures (although I’ve never been really tempted to do so myself).  It’s a bit ironic, really, because my son has been living in Thailand for the past six months, having his own “out of culture” experience.  He’s been chronicling some of his experiences on his own blog, and there’s some “nonfiction” which I’ve followed with eager anticipation!

I often read non-fiction, preferably biography and memoir, although I’ve also enjoyed essays, particularly travel and food related writers.   I enjoy reading poetry too – I suppose that counts as non-fiction, doesn’t it? 

Although I can’t say I read non-fiction any differently than fiction, I’m more likely to be reading a fiction book at the same time.

Now tell me – if you read non-fiction, what’s your favorite genre?


10 thoughts on “Monday Musing – Fiction or Non?

  1. I do read nonfiction. I don’t have a favorite genre; my interests are all over the place. Right now I’m reading ‘Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster’ by Svetlana Alexievich. So far it’s great. Very compelling.
    Next I’m going to read ‘Slavery by Another Name: The Reenslavement of Black People in American from the Civil War to the Present’ by Douglas A. Blackmon, which just won a Pulitzer.
    I enjoy your blog!

  2. I read non-fiction as well. My favorite genre is American history books. I took a couple of grad courses in historiography and enjoyed learning about analyzing history texts. I’d read more, but I have a lot of fiction on my hands right now. I also enjoy Emerson’s essays and the various writings of Mark Twain, and there are a few books I read in college that I’d like to re-read (Joseph Wood Krutch’s “The Modern Temper,” Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Moral Man and Immoral Society,” and a couple of books on American intellectual thought).

    You mentioned you enjoy reading about other cultures. I just finished Hella Winston’s “Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels,” which was (though flawed in some ways) incredibly eye-opening. Shreve Stockton’s memoir “The Daily Coyote” was another great read and I love the blog of the same name!

  3. I’m more likely to pick up a novel, but I do read a fair amount of non-fiction also. Mainly history, but I also like science-y stuff, especially evolution & biology. Right now I’m reading Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes, which is a mix of linguistics and anthropology; it’s about a tribe in the Amazon and it’s incredibly fascinating.

  4. I do read non-fiction, and I have wide ranging interests, especially history. And that’s a problem in my writing because I get so enthusiastic I want to work in everything I’ve learned! However, I’m hoping now that I blog, I’ll be able to funnel my enthusiasm there. I’m reading Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks now. His books are fascinating. The brain is amazing! I do read non-fiction differently. I’m much more forgiving of it because I’m learning something new. I want my fiction to be beautiful, wise, and true. Funny’s a bonus. (Though humour and truth go hand in hand) That’s a tall order.

  5. I love the right kind of non-fiction. What I’m really into is the kind of story that goes on to pick itself apart and consider why this story, and not a different one that could be assembled from the same facts. So I love Janet Malcolm who always writes that way, and I appreciated Malcolm Gladwell, who tells all his stories with that kind of twist.

  6. History is my favorite non-fiction genre, but unfortunately I don’t incorporate enough non-fiction into my normal reading habits. I admit to having a special place in my heart for story and imagination, which cannot be fulfilled with traditional forms of non-fiction; although I suppose certain forms of non-fiction can have a story and be imaginative.

    I also kind of like philosophy, but I find that can sometimes be difficult to read if you’re not in the right mood or you don’t have a class cracking the metaphorical whip behind your back.

  7. Until I was in my mid 20s I rarely read more than biography and history. Then I began to read and write memoir, and after that, poetry (those two feel most connected). Ten years or so ago, I was overcome with a desire for fiction, and today I read two nonfiction books to every eight novels, easily.

  8. I’m not sure how to classify the nonfic that I read. But I love history and science and biography/memoirs and… I seem to have a bad habit of buying ‘how to find your life purpose and/or a job’ kind of self-help books, too – but I never get around to actually reading them.

  9. I don’t read much of non-fiction, but certain subjects do interest me. Arm-chair travel, history, and literary criticism (books on books) are the major ones.

  10. A house in Fez sounds like a wonderful book. I will have to read it. Personally, I am a fan of historical non-fiction. I just read a really interesting book called Cannibalism, Headhunting and Human Sacrifice in North America by George Feldman. Though it’s not a book for the faint of heart, it is not a blood thirsty story, but rather a solid a work of scholarship and anthropology, grounded firmly in archaeological evidence.

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