The current topic of discussion is nonfiction.
For as much as I try to read a variety of books and occasionally stretch beyond my comfort zone, there are two big areas where I’m lacking. One, which I mentioned on Tuesday, is books written before the turn of the (last) century. The other is nonfiction.
I hardly read any nonfiction. Sometimes I’ll get the itch to continue my music education, and then I’ll get some composer biographies or other history or analysis… but I consider it more study or research than “reading.” I mean, obviously it’s still reading, but I approach these books completely differently from the books I read for pleasure.
The main reason I don’t read more nonfiction goes back to the reason I read in the first place — entertainment and escape. On the whole, novels fulfill this purpose better than most nonfiction. The one possible exception would be the “humorous memoir” category, and it figures that the one nonfiction book I’ve read in the last five years is Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. It was entertaining, no doubt; it made me literally laugh out loud, to the point where my husband thought I was going crazy. And it was a kind of escape too, but always there was the thought in the back of my mind that it was all real, the good and the bad. And that makes it… different.
Of course it’s not a bad thing to relate to another real person out there in the world. But I get so much of that reading blogs… which I like even better, because I can actually respond and have a dialogue with the person.
I probably could stand to explore more nonfiction, beyond my main area of interest. But reading these books will always be a separate activity for me. When I think of curling up in a comfy chair with a good book… I’ll always be thinking of novels.
Am I alone in my feeling that reading nonfiction is a completely different activity from losing yourself in a fictional world?