Recently I got into a discussion with a friend about fiction and non-fiction books, after we’d both entered a book store at the same time and walked off to opposite sections. This always happens whenever we go book-shopping; while I will make a beeline for the fiction section, my friend will turn and bury herself between the non-fiction books. At the checkout counter, I was holding a pile of novels and she says, “How can you like fiction so much?” And I counter with, “How can you like non-fiction so much?”
While I’m not undermining non-fiction books in any way, as I know it probably takes years of research to put one together, I just can’t bring myself to read them. I have a very short attention span, and facts and theories simply cause my eyes to glaze over. I can only read a few lines before it loses me. Often I find that I reached the end of the page without even registering the words I’d read. It’s impossible for me to read something that hadn’t been laid out in story form. But… take novels like Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder for example; it’s basically a lesson in philosophy, but I was able to read and enjoy it simply because it’s written in the form of a novel. In fact, all of Gaarder’s books discuss philosophy, and one of them – The Solitaire Mystery – has made it to my list of favourite books.
So really, it’s not about the fact that they’re non-fiction; it’s more about their presentation. I can watch documentaries quite easily. In fact, I’ve come across some that I’ve really enjoyed watching. I’m not averse to learning new things, but reading about them… it rather reminds me of all the reading I had to do at school, haha.
However, when it comes to fiction, I can get lost in the book. I can’t count the time I’ve completely lost track of time or stayed up till the wee hours of the morning reading a book. When I was still in school, I would read under the desk, or else put my paperback inside a larger book and pretend to be engrossed in the lesson, and I got away with it… most of the time, anyway. It’s so easy to fall in love with fiction, to like the characters, laugh at their misfits and feel sad about their pain, to try to picture the fantastic worlds and wish you could be part of them.
Currently I’m catching up on two books that somehow did not find their way into my childhood – The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo – and I’m enjoying them quite a lot. I can read almost any genre, and audience has never deterred me; I admit that I’ve read all my six-year-old brother’s books and liked them.
Of course I’m not saying that I like every work of fiction out there, but I would take a nice novel over a book filled with facts any day.
My question to you, dear readers, do you prefer fiction over non-fiction, or do you like them both equally? Why?
Also, if any of you know books similar to Sophie’s World, I’d love me some recommendations! =]