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Nonfiction is my home department. Until recently, I rarely ventured out of this genre, which admittedly, was informed by the misguided belief that I had ‘graduated’ from my fiction-filled youth.
Certainly, a lot of the fiction I consumed was silly, hence the need to graduate from them. But even in those younger years, I came across a number of powerful works that still impact me to this day.
Fiction is powerful. Factual statements and accounts are enlightening, which is why I love nonfictions, but most of the time it is stories that leave deep imprints and stick on people’s memory. Characters, settings, plots, and twists have a special access to the human soul that essays and concepts sometimes don’t. They can be nonlinear, complex, infuriating, exciting, and entirely unexplainable, much like real life.
I know enough of my susceptibility to being sucked into a fictional world; I could be thinking about or be disturbed by the stories for a good while. This is partly why I limit myself from reading fiction. The other part is the frustration after reading a mediocre book: I could’ve read a nonfiction book instead! If a nonfiction book is mediocre, at least I could still learn something factual. But with fiction, well, none of it ever happened.
Recently, though, I am slowly venturing out to fiction again. Some are for pure entertainment, some are educational. I especially enjoy literary pieces that focus on the human experience. More importantly, though, they are my textbooks on how to carry a story, a skill I know I am deficient.
In a way, I still try to keep a distance, one, because I don’t want to be too emotionally involved in a story (unless absolutely necessary), and two, because every story is informed by a worldview. I am too conscious of the latter reason to truly suspend beliefs, since I would want to, as much as possible, evaluate the premises and assumptions first before accepting a viewpoint. This inhibits the reading experience, I know, but I’ll start with this approach and go from there.
Thanks to the Chicago Public Library, I can explore new genres without cost!
Which fiction books would you recommend?