fiction files redux discussion

What's the point?

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message 1: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
I am sure that many of you discuss books on a daily basis with the people around you, even if they are not necessarily interested. What happens when you come across a person who doesn't read fiction, and says something like "I don't know why you'd want to read a made up story"?

Perhaps more importantly than your immediate response to that silly stance what book would you recommend to that person that would change their mind?

message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert Corbett (robcrowe00) | 169 comments Have no idea. Did you ask whether they go to movies or watch TV? Maybe Harry Potter or To Kill a Mockingbird?

message 3: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
Well that's the thing, this scenario (at this time) is hypothetical. But I couldn't help but wonder what everyone thinks would hook a person who doesn't read fiction

message 4: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments I have encountered a couple of people like that. Asking about their movie and television tastes was no aid as neither of them never watched anything other than sports/music events/documentaries. I was able to sell one of them on the hardest of hard Sci-Fi, speculation on what may happen based on the most up to date scientific information. Pretty much Ben Bova and his ilk. Even then he was iffy on the non technical parts of the novels. The other guy maintains a hearty disdain for all fiction.

message 5: by Matt, e-monk (last edited Mar 17, 2013 05:18PM) (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
this is a person who is not going to be moved by the hoary old Emersonian chestnut that fiction reveals truths that reality obscures (or any one of half a dozen other similar sentiments you can find in Bartlett's)

so my first impulse is why are you bothering with such a twit?
but if you must know back in the day when I did a bit of handselling I would go fishing into said twit's preferences

if for instance this was a guy who liked civil war histories or was a lincoln buff I might suggest Vidal's Lincoln which I would characterize as a heavily researched reimagining of Lincoln's era that manages through the power of imagination and empathy to bring the great man to life on the page as a person in a way that nonfiction is just not capable of doing (because of it's limitations, which are many - I might elaborate on those as well)

message 6: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Yeah, I agree with Matt. There is no one size fits all book that appeals to everyone. For example many people rate Anna Karenina as a 5 star book. Some consider it one of the best novels ever written. And so I had high expectations when I recently read the book. And was disappointed. Though I can appreciate it as a piece of literature, I did not find the characters or the story all that compelling. Then I read The Terror which I consider a 5 star read. I'm sure many people would beg to differ with my ratings. LOL

message 7: by Patty, free birdeaucrat (new)

Patty | 896 comments Mod
My older brother read a ton of fiction as a kid, and now says exactly "what's the point" and he'd rather read something he can learn something new from. He isn't really all that interested in social problems or existential questions, he's interested in geology and pigments, and sometimes geopolitical history. I don't try to convince him to read fiction. Why would I? Variety is the spice of life, no? Not everyone shares my interests.

message 8: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
is this a gender specific thing? most of the people that I've encountered who feel this way were men. I myself have even gone through phases where I just didnt feel like reading fiction

message 9: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 886 comments Mod
If I come across someone who is dismissive of fiction I don't feel any compulsion to try to change their mind or convince them to read something that I'd hope would make them feel differently.

The only people who really bug me are people who don't read anything at all. THOSE are the people I want to cry for. And sadly, if someone isn't a reader, you will have very little luck in turning them into one.

message 10: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments Reflecting on the situations I mentioned earlier in the thread, I am certain that the conversations were more focused on me defending my reading of fiction rather than my actively attempting to get them to read fiction.

This does seem to come up regularly in my life, always from men, and always as a challenge to my "shiftless, useless, bohemian lifestyle".

message 11: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
well, fuck those people

message 12: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 11 comments Storytelling and listening to stories are basic part of being human. Dreams are a primitive form of creating fiction and we all dream.

When someone says "I don't know why you'd want to read a made-up story," it may be an expression of alienation. Most often, though, these same people can tell you about some great play on the basketball court or how they discovered something their study of geology or whatever. The more often their story is told, the more of a fiction it becomes. So, when Patty's brother tells me about some scientific discovery, it's as much fiction to me as if I read things other people made up. I mean, how would I know?

I'm not sure you can get these people to read fiction, but you can at least encourage them to tell their stories which may be just as important.

message 13: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Burnett | 11 comments Here's a quote I like on this topic:

“As soon as we renounce fiction and illusion, we lose reality itself; the moment we subtract fictions from reality, reality itself loses its discursive-logical consistency.”
― Slavoj Žižek, Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology

message 14: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesliemojeiko) | 42 comments It used to really bother me when someone would tell me they don't read, never read, have no desire to read. Anything. It still really bothers me, but when I think about why I love to read I imagine people find many of those same qualities in other forms of entertainment. I love reading because it's an escape, it's beautiful, you can fall in love with strangers, find best friends... I even love reading for the feelings I get from holding a book.

Others spend more time watching movies or tv shows - which can also be an escape, beautiful, a way to fall in love... I try to let people just be who they want to be and don't try to convert them. Even though I'm in love with reading and try to surround myself with other readers, I never want to be an extremist about anything because then you waste your energy making someone hate something that they might have learned to love someday.

message 15: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
nah, fuck those people - why would you waste time on them?

message 16: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
I think this thread got a little more bellicose than intended. I didn't mean for this to be about people who are not interested in reading but rather about a reader of non-fiction, who doesn't see the point of fiction and willing to read a book you suggested to see if it changes is/her mind.

What book(s) would hook a person, or show a person the value of fiction? This is less about convincing a person to do anything and more about what book encapsulates what you love about fiction.

message 17: by Jim (last edited Apr 09, 2013 12:36AM) (new)

Jim Dan wrote: "I think this thread got a little more bellicose than intended. I didn't mean for this to be about people who are not interested in reading but rather about a reader of non-fiction, who doesn't see ..."

Okay, based on your clarification, how about

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Pirsig tells a fictionalized version of a true story with lots of non-fiction information mixed in. It's a hybrid book, but maybe the value a non-fiction person might find is how complex philosophical ideas can be made accessible to the average reader with the help of a fictional framework. I've read this book several times and the storytelling is compelling.

message 18: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
Dan wrote: "I think this thread got a little more bellicose than intended..."

what's wrong with a little bellicosity?

message 19: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
seriously Dan, what's your beef with bellicosity? I'll fight you!

message 20: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
someone's itching for a fight! en garde?

message 21: by Sketchbook (new)

Sketchbook Avoid bellicose bores...until they're out of ICU.

message 22: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (nay_nay) | 8 comments Fiction has great value. From modern day fiction to the classics, it all has something to teach us about one another and our world. Authors from Dostoyevsky and Homer to Huxley and Rand...provide us with different ideas about our history and culture. Why do we study literature? We study because it is imperative to learn about ourselves and reflect on life itself; to grow as individuals by learning from others mistakes and escape the trap of repeating history. It also provides us with an escape from our everyday lives and inspiration within our realities.

message 23: by Nelly (last edited Apr 15, 2013 02:03PM) (new)

Nelly I don't have that particular problem although people often tell me there's no point in reading books at all. I usually just ignore this!

message 24: by Sketchbook (new)

Sketchbook Dump any friend who sez no point in reading books. Brave of you to admit knowing such cretins...

message 25: by Nelly (new)

Nelly Sketchbook wrote: "Dump any friend who sez no point in reading books. Brave of you to admit knowing such cretins..."

Quite a lot of my friends don't really like reading.. It's irritating that I can't talk to them about any books I like but that's why I like Goodreads so much!

message 26: by Sketchbook (new)

Sketchbook Here's the place, then.

message 27: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
I think 'kill them all'

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