Books! Plus my fiction problem

UPS delivered a most delightful looking book to my doorstep today; see photo at left. Yep, the first batch of All the Money in the World just rolled off the presses, in time to be in book stores on March 1. There is something so wonderful about holding a finished book in one’s hand. The weight seems to give substance to ideas. So anyway, it is done, it exists, and now I just need to promote it.

Thinking of books, I’ve been taking a close look at my own reading habits lately. I always say I would like to read more fiction. I actually read an incredible amount — it is not unusual for me to devour 2 or more books a week. I don’t watch TV much and that frees up a lot of time. The issue is that TV serves a purpose. We all need mindless time that doesn’t demand too much of our brains. We want something easy and pleasurable. And for whatever reason, fiction doesn’t seem to serve that function for me. I often like the books I pick up. I made it through Freedom this summer. But when I have a choice, I find it easier to pick up works of narrative non-fiction. Recently, I re-read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Happiness Project, rather than hacking through The Art of Fielding (which is on my Kindle, but not getting read).

We all have our preferences of course, but this is an issue for me because I would like to write fiction (like every other writer, I’m working on a novel, if you define “working” as “occasionally thinking about it”…). Part of writing better fiction is reading good fiction and seeing how it’s done. Obviously, I can and have read the classics — Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina — but let’s face it. I’m not going to be Tolstoy. I could, however, compete in the field of current popular fiction. So that is what I should be reading.

And I’m not.

Why is that? I don’t know. I welcome suggestions on novels that have been pleasurable to read and aren’t too long. I’m not looking for terribly taxing, and also nothing too bleak. I can read the newspaper for that. I want fun. Thoughts?


10 thoughts on “Books! Plus my fiction problem

  1. I know what you mean about the fiction; I love narrative non-fiction myself. Books like The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber, Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures, and Michael Ruhlman’s Making of a Chef trilogy have me turning pages as fast as the best novel would!

    For wonderful (and short) fiction, have you read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day? It’s fun, breezy, and short.

  2. I just finished -The Eve Tree- on my Kindle and it was a perfect quick, literary women’s fiction kind of read. I miss grad school for the constant exposure to new (to me) fiction. I would totally recommend The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, even though its not available for the Kindle and my failed book club read Masie Dobbs last year and it was fun and quick.

  3. Give a try to Laurie R. King’s Mary Russel books. Start with the earliest. She is a wonderful writer.

    Here is a quote from her blog:

    “Ten books later, I have learned a great deal about Russell, Holmes, and their world. I have learned even more about myself and my world, since a central raison d’etre of reading history, even fictional history, is that it is a mirror, reflecting unexpected sides of our times and ourselves. Politics, women’s rights, religious expression, governmental oppression–all these and more wander through the Russell stories, so that although they are primarily, as Graham Greene called his books, “entertainments,” they also have the real-life grit and dimension that a crime novel demands.

    But mostly, I enjoy the Russells because they’re fun, for the writer and (I am led to believe) for the reader. I hope you agree.”

    1. @SB- thanks! I am exploring the world of personal finance blogs. I’ll probably write about the fun of creating someone else’s budget here soon.

  4. Yay for completed books that you can actually touch!

    I enjoyed Austenland by Shannon Hale. I haven’t read the new one, a follow-up, Midnight in Austenland.

    You might get a kick out of The Writing Class by Jincy Willett.

    Any interest in YA? That seems to be where all of the best stories are these days.

  5. Delicious (historical)Fiction – White Truffles in Winter
    Pop Culture – Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead
    Non-Fiction that reads like Fiction – In the Garden of Beasts
    YA – Divergent
    Middle Grade (that I loved) – Peter and the Starcatchers
    Picture Book – The Boy who Cried Ninja

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  7. Hmm. I am a non-fiction fan, too, but I do read fiction, particularly since the rest of the folks in my book club prefer fiction. A lot of my favorite fiction is a bit too dark to meet your criteria, but… have you read My Antonia, by Willa Cather? I never read it in school, and when we read it for book club I loved it. It isn’t dark, and it isn’t a difficult read, but it also doesn’t feel like junk food. And the writing is beautiful in places.

  8. Congratulations, Laura! I bet it feels great to get your first copies of your own book! As far as fiction goes – how do you feel about short stories? I love Alice Munro. Also, the book “Valentines” by Olaf Olafsson is a terrific selection of short stories – and quite appropriate this time of year. 🙂

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