Fiction Vs Non-Fiction: What’s your fancy?

Hanging BooksMy reading pattern lately has included reading fiction and non-fiction book simultaneously. It’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve always been a one book at a time reader, but the last ten or twelve books I’ve read have been six non-fiction with six fiction. Oh and an audio book being thrown into the mix for good measure, now I’ve signed up to Audible (more on that in a later post).

To qualify non-fiction for a second. What I’m referring to here is a non-fiction book. Newspapers, journals, editorials, etc. all count but they tend to be pieces of writing with a smaller amount of dedicated reading time.

In the past, I’ve attempted to read multiple fiction books and found it a little distracting and at times even a bit frustrating. Distracting, because I find I’m thinking of one story while trying to read another and at times frustrating because if one story trumps (sorry to use that awful word guys!) another story, then I’ll want only to read the better of the two. I hate leaving a book unread. This is why I read through Birdsong… just wasn’t my cup of tea, sorry (o;

These are the reasons I’ve lived the one book at a time motto. Non-fiction books have been making their way into my book collection and onto my kindle. When I had a look at what I had, I thought I better start reading them, so I cracked one open and began. During this initial break away from fiction, I realised I needed something imaginative to peruse so I grabbed a fiction book from my to be read pile and began that also. What I found was a surprise. I found reading a non-fiction book, something related to facts, knowledge, and learning made me focus, think deeper and enjoy more of my fiction book of choice.

Right and Left BrainMy thinking is that this is feeding the right side of my brain what it needs with non-fiction given that it is the logical, rational and ordered thinking side while the left side of my brain enjoys art, free and random thinking and imagination. It would make sense until I found a report regarding a research study that has started the ball rolling on debunking this theory.

Anyway, I’ve found benefits to reading both simultaneously as opposed to reading multiple fiction books or multiple non-fiction books at the same time.

Let me know what you think or if you have a preference?


  1. I am more a fiction reader. It uses my imagination more and I am a very active and incredible imagination. The past three novels I read were fiction, which were “Uprooted”, “The Last Unicorn”, and “Don Quixote” and enjoyed them all. I only read one book at a time in order to not get books mixed up. The only way I read more then one book at once is if I am reading a book for fun at the same I am reading a novel for class

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  2. At book length, only fiction. I find most non-fiction writers start with a brief outline, and then seem to find something to fill it out to book length. Anecdotes and silly case studies. So, if I can reduce a non-fiction book back to the outline (the table of contents often helps), I have the gist of it.

    You can’t do that with GOOD fiction.

    But it’s probably that I don’t have the attention span to follow a true book-length argument in non-fiction, if everything the authors says is both different and relevant. I’m managing magazine-article length, such as the weekly articles in The Economist (some sampling of them – it’s too depressing to read the whole thing every week, though I think hubby does); the longer stuff requires too much brain power – and mine is reserved for writing.

    Other people seem to read a lot of history when they write.

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