Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Am a Bad Reader

I’m feeling like there’s something wrong with me.  I think I only like shallow, light reading.  I’m afraid I’m not very literary, and this is something that I WANT to be.  Here’s how these reflections started.  I tried to read The Girls From Ames, a non-fiction book about eleven women who have been friends for many years.  It’s a book about friendship—I should be able to read that!  I couldn’t.
Many times when I’m reading non-fiction, I feel like I get all I need from the book just by reading the introduction.  This has happened to me many times.  In The Girls From Ames, this group’s history was introduced and the author talked about what a truly unique relationship these women have.  Then, there was one chapter about each woman.  I got through the first two women (about 60 pages) and just said, “I get it.  They have great relationships, so stop telling me that over and over  by relating 700 different anecdotes.”
I’ve come up with a list of non-fiction books that I couldn’t finish (or suffered through) because they were either repetitive or extremely detailed.  The Tipping Point, The China Study,The Blind Side, The Innocent Man, Devil in the White City, and  Three Cups of Tea. There are probably others, but that’s all I can think of right now.  There are non-fiction books that I like, but they usually tell a story—more like reading fiction.
Am I shallow?  Most of the books I listed above got great reviews—best sellers.  Should I try harder to read quality non-fiction?  Is this normal?  I mean, I’ve been through grad school and had to read a lot of non-fiction for school, but I don’t seem to be able to do it anymore.  Maybe I’m just burned out.  Thoughts?


  1. I tend to burn out with non-fiction, too... unless the subject matter is totally fascinating. I've got lots of half-finished non-fiction books lying around. I just lost interest.

    I find that many of the books that I couldn't get into (non-fiction and fiction alike) got great reviews. I think it's just that we're all different. There is no "normal" when it comes to reading books.

  2. I'd say don't worry about liking those books you don't like. Read what you want and maybe sometime non-fiction will become what you want to read. And definitely burning out makes you not like much at all (or at least it makes me not like much at all :)

  3. Life is too short to read books you don't have to read. Your reading tastes are your tastes and you shouldn't feel badly about them or try to make yourself be a certain type of reader. I'm not a big fan of non-fiction. I usually read it because it's related to my job or a hobby for which I need instruction. I do like biographies - but they are pretty much the only non-fiction I really like. I read the teen version of Three Cups of Tea and liked it, but it was probably shorter than the one written for adults. As for being literary - I've always considered literary readers those who've read the classics. It's all subjective and very personal. Read what you enjoy!

    Beverly aka Bookwoman

  4. Oh my, you think you're shallow? I look at a book and go "Is there any kissing?" If no, it's an automatic struggle to get me to read it. Hahaha...I really love a romance storyline! I think this is perfectly normal. We should read what we like and what energizes us to read.

  5. I wouldn't worry about it :) Some books really bore me too, even when others are raving about them. Just stick with what you really love and don't waste time trying to read something you're not feeling :)

  6. I have the same problem-- and I don't read very much nonfiction to begin with. Life is stressful; I don't want to add to my stress level by only allowing myself to read books that are "good for me." I have to mix it up.


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