Sunday, May 02, 2010

Too Much Fiction?

This may sound odd, but bear with me. I'm starting to wonder if the brain can overload on fiction. Now, I've been a huge reader for fifty years and the vast majority of what I've read has been fiction. But I've noticed that the more I write, the more difficult it is for me to find books I want to read. This has been going on for several years now and has gotten worse recently. And even when there are plenty of books I want to read, need to read, I do my pages during the day and then find myself watching TV, playing games on the computer, reading blogs . . . almost anything except opening a book and immersing myself in plots and characters. Can the human brain only process so much of that stuff and no more? I can't help but wonder. I may have to start reading more non-fiction.

17 comments:

Bill Crider said...

I know what you mean. I don't read nearly as much as I used to. I regret it in a way, but I don't do anything about it.

David Cranmer said...

I think you can OD on it.

I go through periods where I can't read fiction for pleasure. I usually toss in a biography and that puts me back in the mood.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Yes, you have overload. I need time away from fiction once in a while, too, and I'm no where near as immersed in it as you.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Oh yes, that'll be five cents, please.

Chris said...

I went a few years reading hardly any fiction at all, then in the last year rediscovered it with a vengeance. I try and mix fiction with nonfiction because I love both, but I definitely think one can burn out on it.

Frank Loose said...

I have definitely hit periods in the past where i couldn't read a certain genre or style or author, but now i intentionally mix my reading material to avoid that. I follow hardboiled with something light, then pick up something in crime followed by a literary-type short story collection, something old, then something new. Make it eclectic. Then no matter what I'm reading, it seems fresh.

Randy Johnson said...

I seem to go through periods where my fiction reading slows down to a trickle. It never lasts long, but I sometimes can spend a week reading a book that normally I get through in a couple of days. Or less.

You may have hit on the answer. Those periods are usually infused with more movie watching or music.

bish8 said...

I go through phases with fiction. I burned out on hardboiled mystery fiction for a couple of years. During that time, I read almost exclusively in the sports fiction genre. Eventually, I got caught up with some teriffic Y/A trends, and right now I'm reading a lot of older pulp and sword and sorcery tales.

Somehow, I've accepted that I can move on from one genre to another, that I can rotate the books on my library shelves.

It's also helped me to really expand my reading vision as there is a lot of good writing and quite a bit of excellent writing in all genres.

Changing through the genres has helped me stay with fiction longer than I might have...

pattinase (abbott) said...

Same here. I think we overload on "stories" during the day. I am so much more distractable than I used to be and I think it's largely the Internet. It feels less passive than reading. More interactive.

James Reasoner said...

I've always read across a wide variety of genres. Now it just seems like fiction in general doesn't have as much appeal as it once did. But I'm convinced I'll come across a really good book in a day or two and things will improve.

Mark Terry said...

I've run into that. So I started adding more nonfiction, something I never used to read in book-form. Now I'm typically reading a novel and a nonfiction book simultaneously, and I've got a number of magazines I read regularly. When it comes to nonfiction I'm interested in archaeology, politics, presidential biographies, travel and adventure-travel, generally speaking.

pattinase (abbott) said...

James-If you haven't read Pictures at at Revolution, Mark Harris-about the five films nominated for the Best Picture oscar in 1967, I think you might enjoy that one. Also enjoyed Rogue Males by Craig MacDonald. Or perhaps the Patricia highsmith bio.

beb said...

A couple years ago my daughter got the bug to write some fan fiction, got stuck after a while and asked me to help. I in turn got bite by the bug. What I've noticed is that since then I've become more aware of the mechanics used in writing a story, having a laugh where a very good author injects a heretofore unmentioned horse to break up a romantic scene before it went TOO FAR!

Anyway I suspect your problem may be as much that you write too much. And every time you pick up a book you find yourself thinking too much about how the author did it, then in just enjoying the story.

Then again, assuming a 100 books a year for 50 years.... yeah, new books might not read a new as they used to...

Charles Gramlich said...

I go through periods but in general I have a fairly high level of fiction consumption. However, I've upped my percentage of nonfiction a lot over the years.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Which reminds me, I was going to offer you an ARC of my latest but the timing seems bad, now.

James Reasoner said...

I wouldn't say no, Cap'n.

Anonymous said...

When fiction gets dry or mundane, Wisdom Literature from the Chrisitan Bible offers a twist of flavor that restores my taste buds. "Everybody books" (aka picture books) also help. Reading outloud to an appreciative audience, of one or several, sometimes does the trick as well.