Our Reading Lives

What Do You Do When Fiction Fails?

Wallace Yovetich

Staff Writer

Wallace Yovetich grew up in a home where reading was preferred to TV, playing outside was actually fun, and she was thrilled when her older brothers weren’t home so she could have a turn on the Atari. Now-a-days she watches a bit more TV, and considers sitting on the porch swing (with her laptop) “playing outside”. She still thinks reading is preferable to most things, though she’d really like to find out where her mom put that old Atari (Frogger addicts die hard). She runs a series of Read-a-Longs throughout the year (as well as posting fun bookish tidbits throughout the week) on her blog, Unputdownables. After teaching for seven years, Wallace is now an aspiring writer. Blog: Unputdownables Twitter: @WallaceYovetich

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?


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