Saturday, November 5, 2022

Why Do You Not Read Non-Fiction?


Scott D. Parker

At my science fiction book club meeting this week, I learned a surprising fact: the other three guys in the group rarely read non-fiction.

We’re all middle-aged Gen Xers and we’ve been doing this book club every month for about a dozen years. I followed up, asking them why they don’t read any non-fiction and then wondering how many non-club books they read.

To answer my own questions, 2022 has become the Year of the Memoir. Starting with Dave Grohl’s memoir in February and going on up to now with Matthew Perry’s book, I listened to about a half dozen memoirs. They’ve been a nice change of pace from my normal non-fiction selections which are mostly history written by historians. Most of them, including Grohl, Perry, Steve Martin, and Ron and Clint Howard have the audiobooks narrated by the people themselves so that’s an added bonus.

On the regular non-fiction side of things, three books stand out. The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman and Watergate: A New History by Garrett Graff got that history itch scratched while James Clear’s Atomic Habits served to give me a template to help my daily life.

Beyond the non-fiction, I’m almost always reading another non-club book. That’s where my mystery love is served. In fact, I’m following up my first Leslie Meier book (Back to School Murder) with another seasonal offering: Turkey Day Murder. Throw in magazines, short stories, and a ton of news items and I’m basically always reading something.

One of the guys mentioned he reads about 1.5 books a month with the club’s SF book always one of them. He just prefers fiction to non-fiction. Another literally has a stack of books on a bedside table but just doesn’t seem to get to them. His excuse: “too much streaming.” My wife is an avid reader herself—she probably read a book a week in 2021—but her pace slowed this year partly as a result of watching instructional YouTube videos on jewelry making and gemstones so she can improve in her jewelry-making business.

One huge reason why I get through so many books is that I’m an avid audiobook listener. I get to listen to a book while in traffic, dusting the house, or going to Trader Joe’s. That does lend itself to having more time to read other things when I’m actually holding my Kindle or a physical book in my hands.

And maybe that’s the key. Maybe it’s as simple as audiobooks filling in the gaps of time when we have to do other things—grocery shopping, driving to and from work, cleaning the house—and we can’t sit and read a book. Because sitting and reading a book is and has always been wonderful.

But these anecdotal facts got me to wondering: how much non-fiction do you read?

1 comment:

Dana King said...

For many years in my younger daya I read almost othign except non-fiction. That changed as I moved into middle age until I read nothing except fiction. The pendulum has swung back to where I'm about 2 - 1 fiction, but it's creeping toward 50-50.