Discussion: Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

There are two kinds of readers (she says the sweeping generalization well aware that less than a week ago she said there were four). People who like fiction, and people who like non-fiction. Okay, three, because there are also people who like both. BUT! In my experience most readers tend to prefer one over the other.

Fiction has the benefit of being escapist. It also offers a lot more potential variety, with the endless possibilities of fantasy and science fiction. Fiction tends to be more emotionally charged, and first-person narration can allow you to really feel that you know the character intimately. Fiction can also be written more accessibly and page-turnery, though that is not always the case.

Non-fiction, on the other hand, has the benefit of being real. Sometimes reality is more bizarre than fiction could ever be. (Tiger King, anyone?) Often the reader of non-fiction feels like they are learning something, which might be felt as self-improvement. Non-fiction is deceptively varied, ranging from history, to science, to food, to fashion, to memoirs. And while the writing style is often more aloof and less emotional, I often find that the events portrayed really stay with me longer, possibly because they are grounded in reality.

Now, I’m not here to say one is better. I truly don’t think that is the case. I believe it is entirely a matter of preference. What do you like to read?

I personally prefer fiction. While I’ve ventured into non-fiction a lot more in the last several years and enjoyed it, the vast majority of the books I read are fiction. Possibly because it is more familiar. Most likely because it is really random what I am interested in and what I’m not, and I find more fiction that catches my fancy. (Possibly because fiction is more popular widely, and especially in book blogging circles).

Whichever you prefer, I would strongly encourage you to give a book or two from the other camp a try. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it!

So are you on Team-Fiction, or Team-Nonfiction? Why? Let me know in the comments!

18 thoughts on “Discussion: Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

  1. Team fiction all the way! Like you, I’ve started reading and liking more non-fiction over the years, but the majority of what I read is fiction. I like how much variety there is in fiction – in subject matter, in characters, and in authors’ writing styles.

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  2. +1 for team fiction! I read non-fiction from time to time, but it has to be a topic I’m really interested in or a memoir that I was recommended by a trusted source 🙂

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  3. “Fiction has the benefit of being escapist.” / “Non-fiction, on the other hand, has the benefit of being real.”

    I think “non-fiction” & “fiction” as categories are misnomers. Non-fiction can be poorly researched & not real at all (depending on the author’s agenda), & fiction can, alongside being sometimes escapist, also be more true than anything you read that’s non-fiction. Fiction can pry open your mind and shine a mirror in your face and be the exact opposite of escapist, forcing you to see where you once saw nothing.

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    1. Definitely. What I love about fiction is that it *is* so real, even when it’s pretend. Fiction has a lot to say about who we are. I find that a lot of people who prefer non-fiction have a hard time relating to fiction as “real”, though.

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  4. I’ve been solidly team fiction for years. This year I chose to expand my horizons….slowly. I’ve dipped my toe into memoirs, and honestly, I’m glad I’m venturing out into other genres. Fiction is still my fave, but I’m finding some pretty interesting things out there in the other sections. My trick is I have a few different books going to the same time, so I can switch off into whatever world I want

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    1. Yeah, I enjoy both, but I really love disappearing into a book and forgetting that anything else exists. Which is a lot harder to do with nonfiction, though not impossible I suppose.

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  5. I’ve always enjoyed both fictional and non fictional books. Fiction satisfies my need for drama and non fiction stories are, as I’ve felt more insightful and thought provoking.

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    1. That’s so funny, because I find fiction to be much more thought-provoking. I like when non-fiction gives me the “didjaknows?”, but I don’t as often find that I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s funny how people can be so different.

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