Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why I’m Not Giving up on Fiction after all?

I’ve written before about my preference for reading nonfiction:

I switched to nonfiction after becoming disenchanted with fiction while making my way through Oprah's depressing book club selections.  I decided if I was going to read a depressing story it might as well be true. Even today on the rare occasion I read fiction I usually end up being disappointed:

Take Gillian Flynn’s book Gone Girl for instance. This was the book to read in 2012. Lisa Bloom described it as her favorite guilty page-turner. It was so popular that when I put it on hold at my local library I was #462 on the hold list. Unfortunately this book was not for me. I found the characters so unlikeable, I couldn't finish it. I made it a little over half way through, read the ending and slammed the book closed in disgust.  When I returned the book I told my library friends I didn't like it especially the manipulative characters. They snickered saying that was the point of the book - how manipulative people can be.   Sigh! I decided to give up reading fiction for good.

Then while preparing for a recent vacation I packed four nonfiction books and Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan just in case.  I don't know what it is about being on vacation that usually makes me gravitate towards fiction.  Sure enough, Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An American Autopsy, Fred Kaplan's1959: The Year Everything Changed, Marilyn Yalom's A History of the Wife and In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall; none of them felt right. Instead, I picked up Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and didn't put it down again until I'd finished it.

What I liked about this book?
Lisa See created a beautifully written historical novel that takes place in China's Hunan Provence during the 19th century.  It's about two young girls who are linked as laotongs at the age of seven (a practice bonding two girls together for eternity as kindred sisters). The book explores the oppression of woman valued only for the ability to produce sons, describes the horrific practice of foot binding which I knew little about and explores the relationship of female friendship.

In reviewing my vacation journal, I only made one note from the book: 
I am still learning about love. I thought I understood it - not just mother love but the love for one's parents, for one's husband, and for one's laotong. I've experienced the other types of love - pity love, respectful love, and gratitude love.  But looking at our secret fan with its messages written between Snow Flower and me over many years, I see that I didn't value the most important love - deep-heart love. (Pg. 5)
So I am happy to report I'm not giving up fiction after all.  Perhaps I need to read fiction only when on vacation.  Then stick with my preferred fiction genre - historical fiction or as Tanya form Mom's Small Victories classified this book: World/Cultural Fiction.

Please Note, I am an Amazon Affiliate

Have you read Gone Girl?  What were your thoughts?  Do you agree with my librarian - I gave up on the book too soon and missed the book's point?

Do you have any historical fiction or world/cultural fiction recommendations for my next vacation read? 

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
Memorable Vacation Reads
Nonfiction You Can't Put Down
I Can't Stop Thinking About Nancy Horan's Book Loving Frank


  1. I read Gone Girl and loved it, but I understand that others don't like it. For that reason, I disagree with your librarian: you didn't give up on the book too soon and didn't miss the book's point. All the characters were manipulative and unlikable, but I did like the story anyway.

  2. I need to pin this book to my list. I have checked out Oprah's book club and I thought it would have some better books myself I have been bored with her book selections can't ever get into them.

  3. I read Gone Girl and liked about half of it -- for the clever writing. I am an admirer of craft. Then I found that the writing was just too clever -- that the twists and turns were more about the writer than the characters. At that point, I was gone.

  4. I loved Gone Girl. If you didn't like it from the beginning, you wouldn't have eventually liked it. I put some of my faves on my pinterest board here:

  5. I haven't read it. My preference is young adult fiction and I know it's shameful, but it gives my brain a much needed rest.

    I just started getting into niche blogging and there's a huge learning curve. A Twilight-ish book is just what I need to settle my brain down for the evening :)

    Thanks for the recommendations :)

  6. Loved Gone Girl,but i only read crap - mysteries and erotica, so you can't judge by me.

    I shall get this book, tho. It sounds interesting, and i do like historical fiction, too.

  7. Bryan G,
    Thanks for offering your perspective and I think your right. I disliked the characters so much I don't think sticking with it would have added much to my reading experience.

  8. Kita,
    After awhile I felt the same way about her selections. They were either boring or so depressing I couldn't take it. I hope you enjoy 'Snow Flower.'

  9. Barbara Bartels,
    I enjoyed your comment and agree the story was too clever.

  10. Catherine,
    Looking forward to checking out your pinterest board.

  11. Kim,
    I like young adult fiction too, but other than Holes I haven't read any in a long while. John Green is on my reading list.

  12. Webb,
    I won't judge you. We can't gel on everything. Someday I will try to be less intense. Let me know if you like 'Snow Flower.'

  13. Stopping by from SITS and totally need to add you to my feed reader because I'm a big reader. I read Snow Flower several years ago and liked it. Room is my favorite read from the last couple years! If you haven't tried it you should. It's wonderful.

  14. I haven't read Gone Girl. I tend to read popular Fiction and stick to authors I know and love. I acquire new authors from a lot of work. Tomorrow I'm off to Powell's in Portland which is the largest bookstore in the world. I'm sure I will find tons of great books. I also like to read young adult fiction. When I clicked to read your post I thought you were an author. I write novels and have an e-novel The Mindstalker online. It will be free the first Saturday in July if you have a Kindle. It's a paranormal, suspense, romance. Enjoy Saturday Sharefest.

  15. a happier girl,
    'Room' is on my reading list; not sure if I like the subject matter though. Maybe someday.

  16. Sheila,
    No - I'm definitely not an author. I look forward to checking out your e-novel. Thanks for stopping in.