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?

Continue reading “Discussion: Fiction vs. Non-Fiction”

Thoughts about Classic Sci-Fi via The Martian Chronicles

I’ve always considered myself a fan of classic Sci-Fi. I love Orson Scott Card, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Kim Stanley Robinson, Carl Sagan. Though I admit to having never read any Octavia Butler (sorry, her books look weird!), I feel that I’ve read a good chunk of the well-known authors. But I’ve never been a fan of Ray Bradbury’s.

Fahrenheit 451 is just … not for me. But I thought that this year I would give The Martian Chronicles a try to see what I thought. While I liked it better than Fahrenheit, I discovered that a FANTASTIC story was not enough to help me overcome my distaste for the way Bradbury writes. It’s not bad, it’s just not what I enjoy. But as I was reading, I really noticed a lot of the things that make classic sci-fi so entertaining, and I thought I would share my thoughts with you all.

Seeing their predictions of the future is fun.

This is always one of my favorite things about reading classic sci-fi. It’s really entertaining to see what they got right and what they got wrong. One of the main things that is nearly always wrong is the timeline. In The Martian Chronicles Bradbury has people settling Mars by 1999. Haha, Hank and John Green would be tickled. Instead, we’re sitting here on 2020 hoping beyond hope that our next robot makes it safely to Mars.

The technology is always so hit and miss too. Like in this book, they have the capability of getting to Mars, within a few short months no less!, but they haven’t developed any means of communicating with Earth once they get there. I don’t know, that’s just really fun for me, to see how their predictions held up.

Continue reading “Thoughts about Classic Sci-Fi via The Martian Chronicles”

Do You Like Music While You Read?

Hi folks! Here I am again this Thursday with another SHORT discussion post. What can I say? Great ideas for longer ones haven’t come yet. And you all seemed to have lots to say last week, so…

When you’re reading, what kind of soundscape do you prefer? Do you like it to be silent, to listen to music, perhaps ambient noise?

Personally, I spend most of my childhood in daycare, and then most of my adult life as a teacher. Too extended of a time of silence tends to be more distracting than not for me. I prefer to have some kind of noise while I’m reading. It could be music, it could be the sound of children playing, it could be just about anything. Just about. It can NOT be the TV or any kind of talk radio, and it isn’t easy to read if it’s music I’m not familiar with. To me the ideal music is instrumental, especially if it reflects the tone or genre or setting of the book in some way. The more familiar the music is, the easier it is to let it float into the background and let the book take over my inner-ear.

A lot of the time, these days, you can catch me reading in silence. With two small children, quiet time is increasingly cherished. But if it’s going to be an extended reading session, I definitely need music or ambient noise on. I listen to the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Carribean soundtracks a lot.

Do you like to listen to music while you read? Let me know in the comments!

New Books, Backlist, or Classics?

Okay, so it’s about five minutes til my bedtime, so this is going to be the quickest little discussion post you ever read.

Which do you like reading the best, new books, backlist (books that are 5-20 years old) or classics? Perhaps more interesting, how do your reading habits reflect those preferences?

For me it’s changed over time. I used to like the classics the best, hands down. Every book I picked up was a masterpiece, and so every time I read a book I had such a great experience! Sure, there were some I didn’t connect with (I’m looking at YOU Anna Karenina…), but for the most part it was amazing. But then… I read all the good ones? I don’t know, I just kind of ran out of classics that I was interested in or excited about. So for a bit I got suuuuper into new books. Because, you know, book blogging. Now I’ve settled into a steady stream of reading mostly backlist books.

I like backlist because there’s lots of opportunity to hear what the community thinks, and I don’t waste my time reading something just so-so like I did when I was reading a lot of newer books that weren’t vetted yet. But they’re not old, so they still feel fresh and exciting. I also just tend to read whatever gets brought to my attention, and apparently it takes a couple years for me to hear about things, lol.

Apparently my reading habits do not reflect this AT ALL. According to my spreadsheet, Out of the 72 books I read last year, 57 were published in the 2010s, and 34 (about half) either in 2019 or 2018. And while I still love the classics, I only read one classic last year. So, yeah. Apparently I don’t follow my own advice and do what I know is going to get me a great reading experience! Yay for me!

What about YOU? New, classic, or old? Let me know in the comments!

The Dreaded Second Book Slump

We all know the drill. We read the first book in a new trilogy. We fall in love. We gush, we hype, we yell about the best book in creation at the top of our internet-lungs. Then, oh the torture, we have to wait a year (maybe even two!) for the sequel! So we wait, and we dream, and we imagine all of the things the rest of the series is going to be. Let’s be honest, we probably over-hype the book. Then, the day finally comes! We get our beautiful pre-ordered copy in the mail, and we don’t wait to dive right it! But… it’s just… fine.

Okay, even if it doesn’t go quite to that extreme, we all know that the second book in a trilogy is usually the weakest. Why?

The conflict has no where to go.

This is, I think, the main sticking point. I notice that often book 2 seems to be chasing itself in circles. So, a lot of times, the first book leaves us having firmly established the main conflict of the series, and has left the main character with a clear idea of what they need to do. But in the second book you can’t start resolving anything yet. So, what do you do? How do you continue to build when the main climax of the series isn’t even coming during this book?

Continue reading “The Dreaded Second Book Slump”