Is there a fundamental difference between people who primarily read fiction versus those who stick mostly to non fiction? If it isn't already obvious, about 99% of what I read is fiction. Sure I dabble in non fiction, but it's really the exception that proves the rule. I can't explain why, but I'm usually really turned off by non fiction. There have been a few notable exceptions (I liked Devil in the White City and I've read a few biographies that didn't suck), but for the most part, my eyes glaze over the second I try to read anything that leans in the direction of self improvement, religion, philosophy or business.
In contrast, my husband reads about 99% non fiction. Now I know that those who enjoy non fiction may argue, "Non fiction is a really broad generalization Jill, it's not all Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus!" I'm sure there are many genres within the category of non fiction, but I can't say that definitively, because I'm not really sure I've ever set foot in the non fiction section of the bookstore. I'm sure my husband, who reads mostly business books wouldn't appreciate being clumped into the same category as people who read philosophy and religious books and I gather the feeling's mutual. Perhaps I'm being careless. I certainly don't like being grouped together with people who read fiction about hobbits and space ships (even if I *did* like the Ender's Game series - shhhhhh that's a secret). But bare with me, because I think my generalizations are required for my theory.
Are there people who read about 50% fiction and 50% non fiction? If so, I don't think I know any of them. It seems like 2 separate camps. I'm not saying they can't fraternize (or even marry) but it is interesting isn't it? What is it about people that makes them more interested in one genre over the other?
My theory: The people in these two camps view the purpose of reading differently. I suppose my theory is nothing but one big generalization, but I think people who prefer fiction read to escape, while people who like non fiction read to educate themselves. I realize in this hypothesis, I come out in a less than flattering light (or at least a less educated light), but I think I might be on to something. For Jeff, reading seems like a "means to an end". He reads a book about building his resume so he can build his resume. He reads a book about investing so he can be a better investor. My reading is the means AND the end. I read a book to escape, to experience a story and relax.
I can't help but wonder - are the non fiction readers the "thinkers" and the fiction readers the "doers" in this world? Sometimes it seems like non fiction readers are the type to get so caught up in the process of educating/improving themselves that action becomes secondary. Whereas those of us reading fiction rarely take the time to stop and think before just doing something. Do fiction readers leap before they look and non fiction readers spend so much time looking that they rarely in fact leap? Perhaps this is why we need each other. I need Jeff to tell me that I can't actually hang a 25 pound mirror on a wall without first locating the stud and using the right kind of nail. But without me, the mirror would probably stay leaning up against the wall on the floor for another 6 months.
6 days ago