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Why do I struggle to read novels?

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16 February 2012, 09:38 AM
Why do I struggle to read novels?
I should first say that I am a nonfiction person. I have read hundreds of fascinating books about history in my 19 years. But I am getting a little tired of nonfiction, so recently I have taken up novels. I have a very calculating and cold personality. I read mostly to learn, because I am strange and I think learning about history is fun. My struggles with novels take me back to my days in fourth grade when we all had to write book reports over the simple books our teachers chose for us. I remember finding it so hard to concentrate and being unable to comprehend what I read. It is not that I cannot read novels, it's that I can only now read a specific type. This week I have already read All Quiet on the Western Front and A Farewell to Arms, which moved me and suit me perfectly, but there do not seem to be many novels that can do that. I have always been able to understand and enjoy nonfiction because it supplements what we already know, whereas novels tell prosaic stories, but I do not like stories. I like facts and analyses. Novels make us look into the world and ask why it is what it is and if it can be changed. I think I can ask and try to answer what novels ask us, but my intellect is built on expanding the size of it, not evaluating it. I have read so much history that now I want to ask some of the questions about human nature and its evolution that nonfiction writers look past. Today I tried reading Now God be Thanked and One of Ours by Willa Cather but after the first twenty pages or so, I was almost sleeping and my mind wandered. I guess what I am trying to ask is how can I enjoy fiction and how can can I make it sentimentalize my analytical mind, which I think the great novelists try to make happen and which makes me the perfect candidate to relate to nonfiction ?
what is a course in miracles

This message has been edited. Last edited by: terenkleon,
16 February 2012, 08:42 PM
Greetings, terenkleon, and welcome to the forum.

If you're 19 years old and male (I'm assuming you are, here) and don't like reading novels, then I'd say you're not too unusual. Smiler I can't say that I voluntarily read one until my mid-20s, and then it was simple westerns or books by James Fennimore Cooper.

But I agree that fiction engages us differently than non-fiction, and it could be that your personality type is such that you're more inclined to think rationally about things than to use your imagination. Fiction does call for a significant investment of imagination, and some people find that difficult (just as others find it difficult to engage in rational discourse, or emotional discussion, or something that's very detailed). To each his/her own.

It sounds like historical novels have worked best for you so far. I like those, too, and have much enjoyed reading James Michener's works through the years. He tells an engaging story while teaching about history in the process. The Source is one of my all-time favorites, if you're looking for a recommendation, here.