Sunday, July 24, 2011

Non-Fiction Reading Slump & Quest for Happy Books (not for me)

I used to read 99% fiction. Then in 2008 and 2009, before I started blogging in 2010, I read about 75% non-fiction, out of approximately 100 books a year.

Last year, I read 75% fiction instead (still out of 100 books or so). I blamed it on all you bloggers, as your reviews made me kept adding (mostly) fiction books to my TBR list :)

This year, I wanted to try 50-50. So far, it's about 2/3 fiction, 1/3 non-fiction. So I definitely have some catching up to do. But I am in a non-fiction reading slump for some reasons. I have started 3 non-fiction books I'd been looking forward to, but had to put them aside as I couldn't concentrate. Now, I am not abandoning them, as least not yet, so I want to wait till I am in the mood to read them. To give them a fair try.

I think one reason is because I am busy at work, so I read to escape. I have to pay extra attention when I read non-fiction, as my goal in reading non-fiction is usually to learn something new. When I read fiction, I just want to let my imagination go wild. I guess it's like watching a movie (fiction), as opposed to a documentary (non-fiction).

I suppose at least I still want to read, even if it's just fiction. I am such a mood reader.

But am I really a mood reader? A friend asked for some book recommendation. She likes happy books, and doesn't like scary or depressing books. I looked through the list of books I'd read in the past few years, and many of them were not happy books lol. She enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Lottery by Patricia Wood. I was racking my brain trying to think of something. Eventually I came up with The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen, The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys (only because Lottery reminded me a bit of the last book.) Even then, they all had a bit of a sad element in them. Personally, the more emotional the better (fictional stories), for me. Books that make me cry are more memorable, and I tend to rate those higher.

Can you recommend any happy books?

PS - the 3 non-fiction that I put "on hold" for now are:
  • Crazy: Notes On and Off the Couch by Rob Dobrenski
  • Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way by Molly Birnbaum
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran AdriĆ 's elBulli by Lisa Abend
 PPS - the fiction I decided to read is:
  • Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek 
PPPS - the books I finished this past weeks were (and of course no reviews yet...):
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty 
  • Creep by Jennifer Hillier


  1. When I read Tomato Girl I loved how she did the chapter titles, don't skip over :-)

    You are my memoir recommended buddy so get back to it, lol, just joking. Did you write down the one from Before I Go to Sleep? Forever Today: A Memoir of Love and Amnesia

    I agree on reading Fiction to escape. Work is crazy for me also, uggh. Do you still work in the hospital?

    When not reading Suspense etc I like Fiction that is sad also.

    Happy Books, hmmmm - ok looked through my LibraryThing, lol no happy books. I am going to go with The Wednesday Letters by Jason Wright.

  2. What an interesting question!

    Is a bit of sad on the way to the happy ok? The Help certainly wasn't cheerful all the way through! I've actually been trying (even before this) to come up with "books you might like if you like The Help", and I've failed so far.

    Mixing the subjects in your post, I'd recommend Science Fair Season by Judy Dutton as being non-fiction that is upbeat and fun to read-- lots of kids triumphing over adversity, but it rarely goes far into the bad stuff.

    Good luck getting out of your non-fiction slump.

  3. Thanks for including The Sorcerer's Apprentices on your list. Hope you enjoy it.

  4. I'll recommend you the book I'm reading right now and laughing my head off with it - Yo! by Julia Alvarez. It's really funny and you may enjoy it.

  5. Oh..for happy books and I'm a huge fan of either Fanny Flagg or Lorna Landvick. They both write stories of women or families and the stories aren't happy all the time, but the end is always filled with hope.

    For pure escapism, I've been devouring the Sookie Stakehouse novels by Charlaine Harris. I didn't think I'd like them, but they are mindless fun and super quick reads.

  6. Oh..and I have to admit, I'm all about easy escapism. I just finished reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and while it was great, I admit to slogging through it. It was well written and a fantastic story- but my life is so crazy right now my brain doesn't want to work when reading.

    I want metal floss- hoping the time will come I want something more substantial. Until then, I'll keep enjoying what I am reading!

  7. I can so identify with your comments on non-fiction - I'm learning as I read, so I have to pay attention and concentrate harder!

    Looking forward to your review on Crazy: Notes on and off the Couch. Have heard it's a great read...

  8. Tell her to try....
    Sarah Addison Allen = for magic
    Sophie Kinsella = for pure fun and happy

  9. I just bought Season To Taste! Non fiction that I have experienced lately that I enjoyed were Candy freak (audio), Bossypants (also audio) is hilarious if you do not mind a bit of poor language.

  10. @Marce - Ummm I must have totally missed the mention of Forever Today when I read Before I Go To Sleep (I had an ARC, not sure if that's part of the reason?) Sounds like a memoir I'd want to read! So funny about having no happy books like me :) Thanks for the recommendation of the Wednesday Letters, I'd borrowed it from the library! Yes I am still working at the clinic/hospital :)

    @blog - I think a little sad but end with a high note is okay, just nothing overly depressing or disturbing or scary :) This is harder than I thought! Thanks for the recommendation of Science Fair Season - I'll add that to my TBR! Sounds like something I would enjoy!

    @Almendra - I had to return Scrcerer's Apprentices to the library as it was due, but will re-borrow it when I am out of my slump!

    @Aths - Haven't heard of it - thanks for the recommendation!

    @heather719 - I agree, I have to be in the right mood to read NF - when life/work get too busy, I turn to fiction and dream about the life that's not mine! :) Thanks for the recommendation!

    @Fiona - Hopefully I can get out of the slump soon and finish Crazy!

    @Juju - Ah, I have read all but Garden Spells, so I could definitely recommend Sarah Addison Allen for her! I have heard good things about Sophie Kinsella, just haven't read her since I am not into chicklit... but seems like something my friend would enjoy!

    @Sheila - Can't wait to hear what you think about Season to Taste! I hope I get out of the slump soon... was supposed to finish that book in July... oh well. I had already read Candy Freak - definitely a fun book to read! I borrowed Bossypants from the library but had to return it as it was due... and no I don't mind poor language at all :) Thanks for the recommendation!

  11. I am also a mood reader. When I lived in Sydney I never discovered timtams

  12. I'm a huge mood reader, and that's why I don't feel guilty putting a book aside and coming back later. I read mostly fiction.

  13. @Esme - I couldn't believe you never discovered Tim Tams in Sydney! :) But then, there are lots of other great food there :)

    @Mrs Q - It's great that you don't feel guilty putting a book aside. I find it a bit harder to do when it's an ARC and I need to review it... for other books I borrow from the library I don't have as much of a problem.