Our Reading Lives

What Do You Do When Fiction Fails?

df75db5fdf9c9072658b06bec9254d33Sometimes, when it comes to fiction, I. Just. Can’t. Which is weird because I’d say that I’m a heavy-on-the-fiction girl. But occasionally it’s like I’m allergic to it. I’m reading a book right now that is a combination of essays and short stories, and when I get to the short stories – eck, ugh, no. Onto the next essay, please and thank you.

I can kind of predict these periods of time, usually it’s when something specific is happening, but occasionally it’s random. I’ll be lying in bed, trying to get into a perfectly good story, and NOPE. Then I try with a non-fiction book and ten pages later I realize I’m jiving and all is good.

Helene Hanff once wrote to a friend, “anything he liked i’ll (sic) like except if it’s fiction. i (sic) never can get interested in things that didn’t happen to people who never lived.” This pretty much sums up what happens in my brain when I’m going through these phases. But it didn’t happen. I’ll say to myself. Why am I reading about something that didn’t happen? Again, not the norm for me, and I absolutely do think there is incredibly useful lessons to learn through fiction. However, in these phases that I go through, I want to know what happened to real people, and when it happened to them – what did they do?

I put these thoughts to other readers, recently, and a few understood what I meant, but mostly these were people who prefer non-fiction over fiction anyway. So I ask you – are there any of you out there who go through phases with this? And if not, those of you who prefer non-fiction to fiction… why? What is it about fiction that just doesn’t do it for you?


Sign up for our newsletter to have the best of Book Riot delivered straight to your inbox every week. No spam. We promise.

To keep up with Book Riot on a daily basis, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, , and subscribe to the Book Riot podcast in iTunes or via RSS. So much bookish goodness–all day, every day.