Originally posted on February 1, 2010 at 8:10 PM

My best friend and my mom both seem to prefer nonfiction to fiction: memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies mostly. When I asked Kitty why, her answer was, “because it’s true. When I read fiction, I know it didn’t happen, so it’s less valuable.” Okay, so maybe that wasn’t an exact quote, but it’s the gist of it. She needs to know that what she’s reading is valid, possible, and worth something.

I’m not a big fan of nonfiction. When I read an autobiography, for example, I find myself questioning the outlandish things they say happened to them. They’re exaggerating for comedic effect. They’re lying, to sell copies. They’re claiming more importance to mundane events than they actually feel, to connect with their readers. All of these thoughts and suspicions knock me out of the story. I can’t enjoy it if I think someone’s misleading me.

With fiction, there’s an automatic suspension of disbelief required to even start reading. There’s no “this wouldn’t happen” syndrome, for me, because none of it happened. I don’t feel cheated or lied to, because I know going into it that none of this is claimed to be true. I can get over that before I even start reading, and off I go into a highly entertaining read that doesn’t once make me wonder, “Is she making this up?” I can follow the story for its own worth.

I think the primary difference is one of belief. How trusting are you? How willing are you to accept words for absolute truth? If the answer is “not at all,” like me, fiction is the way to go. If the answer is that you generally believe people are honest, nonfiction might be more suited to your tastes.

When it comes to human nature, are you a believer or a skeptic?

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  • Pegab

    04:28 AM on February 03, 2010
    Not so!! Although I love memoirs & biographies, fiction is my true love. Children’s books & poems are my very favorite form of literature. Consider:
    “The baby bat cried out in fright,
    Turn on the dark,
    I’m afraid of the light”
    by Shel Silverstein.
    I’m a puzzling mix of innocence & cynicism, but I think I’m more innocent. However, there are very few things that I accept as absolute truth. Hmmm; maybe I’m more cynical…
    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Annie!