I read and love fiction and non-fiction equally. But recently I was chatting with a friend about books, and she revealed that she doesn’t care much for non-fiction. I couldn’t believe it. I think I shrieked at her. When people tell me they don’t like non-fiction, I just assume they haven’t been reading the right non-fiction. But she has taken some of my non-fiction book suggestions (including a couple of my very, very favorites like Helter Skelter and The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe) and couldn’t make it through them.
So this made me think about what I love so much about non-fiction. I can’t read just straight history. I don’t know why. I’ve tried. I’m a total sucker for a good memoir or biography, especially by a woman. Personal History and What Remains are two of my favorites.
I do love good true crime (as opposed to truck stop true crime, which, let’s be honest, I’ve also devoured). Almost anything by Vincent Bugliosi falls into this category, my favorite being And the Sea Will Tell. Columbine, which I’ve talked about a lot, is along the same lines. It wouldn’t be in the True Crime section in the bookstore, but it’s non-fiction, about a criminal event.
My friend who doesn’t like non-fiction says it kills it for her that she knows the ending. She knows that Marilyn Monroe dies, she already knows about the grisly Manson killers. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but if your primary love of story comes from what happens, then yeah, non-fiction might bore you.
Of course I love a novel, it’s an escape like no other. But I know a man who reads all the time, and fiction seems like a waste to him. The equivalent of watching a soap opera, even if it’s high minded. He won’t do it.
So, of course it’s simply a preference thing, but I’m curious.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?