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Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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tonya_100
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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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I prefer fiction
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etudiant
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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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The Heart of the Sea was apparently the inspiration for the novel Moby Dick. Herman Melville was reported to have met with some of the survivors of that ordeal and heard their stories. I enjoyed the book.

I read quite a bit more non-fiction than fiction, although I thoroughly enjoy a good novel. But as I sometimes say to my better half, why bother with fiction when there are real life characters like Sarah Palin or Silvio Berlusconi around? Who would think up that stuff?

And I have to agree with ChrisRippel to an extent. There seems to be two main streams of fiction, those interested in an art form, and those interested in keeping pages turning. I must admit I have fallen for some of the later, such as Michael Crighton, and then asked myself at the end, why did I do that?

But some older classics can be a problem for me as well. I have plowed through Herman Melville for example, but at times thought that I might need a sedative in order to keep patient as the author slowly meandered about in circles on his way to making a modest point, time being absolutely no object.
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Suzanne

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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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etudiant wrote:And I have to agree with ChrisRippel to an extent. There seems to be two main streams of fiction, those interested in an art form, and those interested in keeping pages turning. I must admit I have fallen for some of the later, such as Michael Crighton, and then asked myself at the end, why did I do that?
I also agree that there are many novels that I would consider "candy". I try to avoid those novels that seem to have been written using a formula, and those written by authors who publish several books per year.

I will never, however, agree that all fiction is "meatless". I do read more fiction than non fiction, and I do enjoy meat over candy. Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" for instance is most certainly a bigger piece of meat than most people can swallow, but I do consider it to be a work of art. The subject matter is repulsive, but the writing is brilliant. It is a clear demonstration of how a talented writer can affect a reader. I also consider it to be a page turner. Best of both worlds, these are the type of books of fiction that I enjoy. I enjoy exploring the minds of well developed characters, whether I can identify with them or not.

Philip Roth is one of my favorite writers, if not my favorite. The reader can see the progression of his maturity and personal experience through his novels. He is growing older, his perspective on the world is changing, and his characters change along with him. One of my favorite books of fiction is "The Human Stain". Philip Roth has a command of the English language, and is a great story teller.
etudiant wrote:But some older classics can be a problem for me as well. I have plowed through Herman Melville for example, but at times thought that I might need a sedative in order to keep patient as the author slowly meandered about in circles on his way to making a modest point, time being absolutely no object.
After I read "The Heart of the Sea", I of course needed to read "Moby Dick". Not a big fan of Herman Melville. But, there are classic writers that need to be given credit for opening up the minds of characters for us greedy readers to live in for a short time. When I was forced to read "Pride and Predjudice" I thought I would struggle through it, believing Jane Austin was nothing more than an old romance writer, I was very suprised. Jane Austin is witty and intuitive, and smartly demonstrates the human condition. Also, "The Heart of Darkness", Joseph Conrad is compelling. I read "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka, when I was very young, it had a great impact on me. It still does. The works of Albert Camus, and Jean Paul Sartre also cannot be labled "Candy". As a former actress, it was a dream come true to play the role of Inez in Sartre"s play, "No Exit", my favorite play based on the idea of pergatory. "Look into my eyes, let my eyes be your mirror", my favorite line, still gives me shivers. Maybe my experience on the stage, and diving into the skin of characters has produced my love of fiction. Oh, a new production of "Equus"by Peter Shaffer has begun their performances. "Equus" is another excellent play, to read. Also, the play, "Doubt", is better read, or watched as a stage performance, then watched as a movie. The effective use of dialogue in a novel will discribe a character more than a thousand words of physical discription. The short story, "Broke Back Mountain", Annie Proulx, was a wonder to read. She never discribed the looks of the characters, but by dialogue alone, I was able to not only able to picture the characters in my mind, but I could smell them, and feel the fabric of their clothes. I felt I knew them, and I cared about them both. Character development distinquishes the "candy" from the "meat". This story is best read, there are many nuances missing from the movie, and the casting was horrendous.

Good fiction writers can give the reader an adventure through human feelings, and the human spirit. A great little novel I read reccently was E.L. Doctorow's, "Homer and Langley", this book is based on a true story, and it was engrossing. The author dropped you inside the lives of these two men, but E.L. Doctorow is a very good guide, and does not leave you stranded. And, how can anyone count out the works of fiction by Cormac McCarthy? "The Road", "All the Pretty Horses", and "No Country For Old Men" all demonstrate to the reader the human spirit, and the "humaness" of characters who's lives are so dramatically different from the reader. A good fiction writer brings these characters alive, and they become real, offering the reader a believable experience.
ChrisRippel wrote:Fiction, it seems to me, is like junk food. The most popular genre authors load their products with sugar and salt to make them tasty, but their nutritional value is dubious. When I read this stuff, I often think, "I could be reading something that is tasty and nutritious."
Oh I so do hope, ChrisRippel, that you will open yourself up to some meaty books of fiction. We are currently reading, "The Left Hand of Darkness", Ursula K. Le Guin. It is a work of science fiction, I consider myself to be a science fiction "virgin", science fiction is NOT my favorite genre, but, this book is interesting and thought provoking. I hope you will give it at try and join the discussion. I think etudiant may enjoy it as well.

And Pres., OK, I will confess, you did "tell us so", in regard to "The Sound and the Fury". It wasn't dreadful, but I don't think I'll be reading any other William Faulkner novels for a while.
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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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Personally I tend toward reading non-fiction. Would say 80% of what I pick up is non-fiction but the rest are classics or recommendations from friends who like fiction and know my taste.
Agree that the formula based fiction doesn't hold my interest but do not believe it's all eye candy. There is some wonderful historical fiction out there.
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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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Suzanne wrote:Philip Roth is one of my favorite writers, if not my favorite. The reader can see the progression of his maturity and personal experience through his novels. He is growing older, his perspective on the world is changing, and his characters change along with him. One of my favorite books of fiction is "The Human Stain". Philip Roth has a command of the English language, and is a great story teller.
You're not kidding. I've only read "The Human Stain" and "The Plot Against America," but almost every paragraph proclaims him a master of his art. Which of his others should I read, IYO? I'm sometimes embarassed by all the books I've missed.

That said, I definitely read more nonfiction than fiction because nonfiction satisfies more of my nagging curiosity. I'm not happy about neglecting fiction, but there is only so much time, after all. I find that having others to read along with facilitates reading fiction. It isn't as important for me to share the experience of reading nonfiction.
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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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DWill wrote:You're not kidding. I've only read "The Human Stain" and "The Plot Against America," but almost every paragraph proclaims him a master of his art. Which of his others should I read, IYO? I'm sometimes embarassed by all the books I've missed.
"Portnoy's Complaint"!!!! And what a complaint it is!

Another good one I think you would like is, "I Married a Communist".

"American Pastoral" has recieved a lot of praise, it's good, but the essense of the book is very subtle, I found myself losing it often, kinda like when you need to sneeze but just can't get it out.

Some of his newer works have been dissapointing, I just finished, "The Humbling", it's more of a novella, but I did enjoy it.

I would like to hear your thoughts on any of these, or others by Roth that you read. Don't feel embarassed about missing books, there are just too many to be read!
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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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I kind of want to read "Goodbye Columbus," but I'm not sure why. "Portnoy's Complaint" covered new ground in literature, so I'm sure that's a good one, too.

I have another question to ask about reading habits: how much do people out there reread books? I kind of like the idea of "good books though few," that is, knowing a limited number of books really well. I don't practice that, though, and rarely reread a book after I've finished with it, other than sometimes rereading nonfiction immediately because of not fully understanding the first time through. There are too many books I think I should get to, to have time for much rereading. Yet whenever I do reread, the experience is good. Even a book that I have almost no specific conscious memory of becomes familiar when I pick it up even decades after first reading it. The brain is so amazing in its retention. The rereading is like walking the same path later in a snowstorm; there are still tracks that make the walk a little easier. And the book is always different on rereading. Sometimes I like it more, sometimes less, but at any rate I see new things in it.

It seems that people are much more likely to want to go back and reread fiction, vs. nonfiction. Novels become our friends. My almost 92-year-old mother-in-law lives in the Colo. mountains and isn't able to get out as much now, especially in the winter. She has a good supply of older books, though, and has decided to reread them all--no need to visit the library.
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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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I much prefer a good non-fiction book to a good fiction book. The tough part is there are so many fewer good non-fiction books, so I often resort to fiction. I totally agree with the previous poster on the candy analogy. With non-fiction I feel like I am gaining something, whether that is true I'm not sure.
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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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I enjoy reading Fiction more
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Re: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

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Fiction definitely.

But my favorite non-fiction book is "Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde." Because with most nonfiction, I can't imagine myself ever rereading, but this one I can. :)

(Which reminds me, I need to buy this!)
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