Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where Did My Taste For Fiction Go?

I used to read every nite (and sometimes in the morning). Fantasy trilogies, seemingly endless series, favorite authors, spiffy covers - I didn't need much of an excuse to find something to read. Almost all was fantasy or scr-fi.

Now, with the exception of the latest Discworld novel, I don't seem to have the stamina or the focus to get thru a work of fiction these days. I had no problem reading the recently published follow-up to Fort Apache: The Bronx (non-fiction) in 2 days, but I can't seem to pick up a regular novel these days.

Soloman Kane I'm slowly working my way thru, but as it's short stories, it seems to work for me these days. I used to HATE short stories when I was in my 2-3 novels a week phase of reading.

I wish I could blame my change in taste on a particular author or work, but I can't. Tastes change with age I guess. I'm sure at some point it will all swing back around again.


  1. I'm in the same boat. I used to devour fiction and now I don't care for it. I've turned into a big non-fiction buff as well.

  2. I've had a devil of a time getting into fiction, of late. I used to read voraciously. :(

  3. I have rotating obsessions. When I tire of prose fiction I read comics. when I tire of Comics, I read RPG books; from there I move on to science books (I'm considering rereading about half of my university texts here in the near future). After that, it's movies for a few weeks (this bores me the quickest, although in the past, I've gone for months on a steady diet of old Dr Who and Godzilla movies). Anyway, that's my advice: rotate.

  4. I used to read science fiction almost exclusively. I read just as much nowadays, but have replaced much of the fiction with history.

    I love to learn and I love learning about history. And now i realize just how short life really is, and I want to fill it with as much learning as I can.

  5. Yeah man, I feel your pain! I have a HUGE collection of fiction that I've gathered up over the years, and most of it I haven't read. I too am finding it hard to get through a book these days. I'm finding myself once again easily distracted by other books, and have to read more than one at a time, which slows things down. Then there's the amount of time I want to spend on RPG-related stuff (prepping for game time and actual gaming, reading blogs, reading gaming material). And I'm finding myself feeling bored of fantasy fiction. I've been thinking I need to shift back to science fiction for the time being, cleanse the old brain so to speak. I just picked up A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. That should be a hoot.

  6. What's this? I can comment?


    I usually handle the situation similar to Aos, rotating my interests around when I burn out the current focus. It used to bother me when I got burned out, but just accepting that I need a break and shifting where I spend my time really makes a big difference. Sooner or later you'll come full circle.

  7. P.S. I think this malaise, at least for me, stems from being tired of HUGE, brick-sized, door-stopper books and all those trilogies (and five to ten-book series)! I think I need to read some shorter, one-shot novels. David Gemmell is good for that, as well as a couple other authors. I just want to feel like I finally finished something, you know? Slogging through the latest George Martin offering, for instance, does not appeal to my current self. My younger self could tear through that stuff. But now, I just get so baffled by the sheer heft of most of the novels these days.

  8. P.P.S. Agreed on the rotation idea from Aos...

  9. Amazing, and I thought it was just me. I can read through just about any non-fiction these days, and short stories do the trick. But I just have the worst time trying to read novel-length fiction, too.

  10. burnedfx - yep, opened to even anonymous posters for now. if we get over run by spammers i may have to find another solution, but I'm giving this a shot ;)

    drance - i dont mind a series, as long as each book can stand on its own. well, assuming i can convince myself to start reading it in the first place. i'm done with trilogies and the like

  11. I don't read much fiction these days... if I do, it's short stories.

    I still buy a ton of books, but they're all history books, usually expensive academic press type stuff. Not exciting, but informative.

  12. Hope you get your fiction groove back. Like you mentioned you're not alone.

  13. Yeah, pretty much when I was a kid I Hoovered books and magazines. I think having the internet has a lot to do with it but things had changed before that.

    These days if I do read something it's from the Killer B's-Richard Brautigan, William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski or J.G. Ballard or something from PK Dick (I believe the wife has bought me the recently published Exegesis from Dick-can't wait for that).

    As for new, since my favorites have all since passed on I read Slipstream and Bizarro/New Weird fiction, conceptual novels and experimental fiction. Maybe those are related to gaming in a way. They are often a challenge not only to read but comprehend at times, like House of Leaves.

    I think I told someone once that I only read books these days that leave a scar. If I want passive entertainment I break out a box of B-Movies and run a Saturday double feature of Ed Wood films or 50's SF. Bava's Planet of the Vampires and Cronenberg's Videodrome get a lot of screen time.

  14. Just the opposite with me!

    I'm coming out of a long no-fiction period and going into discovering appendix N. I'm reading The Gods of Mars for the first time and I just love it!

    So far it's been so action packed it's like the whole novel is one long climax. It's sexy and not politically correct at all. Burroughs is some kind of an adventure genius!

  15. aYeah, pretty much when I was a kid I Hoovered books and magazines. I think having the internet has a lot to do with it but things had changed before that.

    I went through a bad period where I couldn't read fiction at all. Finally got through it by resolving to alternate 'important' books with dead-easy thrill-a-minute ones. I think it was Chinua Achebe and Tim Powers to start. :)

    I'm willing to bet that the Internet - or instant-gratification media more generally - can be blamed for much of the problem. To put it simply, blog posts are really, really bad for the long-form reading faculty. Reading a novel is about leaving your world and entering another; reading a blog is about sprinkling a dose of someone else's voice into your own world.

    There's a reason sites like longreads.com and givemesomethingtoread.com have sprung up in the last couple years. (Not that either site is without huge cultural myopia...)

    Anyhow: you wanna get back into fiction? Put the computer aside for a week and commit to a book. It's like exercising: if you're doing something less good for you than what you know you're should be doing, you have no one but yourself to blame/thank.

  16. Wally - it's not reading that's the issue - I devoured a non-fiction book in 2 days, couldn't put it down.

    Fiction just doesn't hold the same draw to me at this point in my reading cycle. Neither does much on TV. If I watch 2 hrs a week, its alot - and even then it's the history channel.

    No computer will not lead me back to fiction. Maybe if there was a really good piece of fiction, but I've read so much dreck in my "read it all" days that I suspect that needle will be hard to find in this haystack;)


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