I’ve been noticing at various times throughout the year that the books I am most interested in and excited about reading are tilted heavily in the nonfiction, science fiction/fantasy and comics direction. I first realized this in April when at one point I was not actively reading a single novel, everything was nonfiction and when I finished one and was ready to pick up another my hand reached for nonfiction again. But I stopped myself, worried about reading so much nonfiction, and chose a novel instead. I felt silly about it and vaguely concerned at the overabundance of nonfiction I had read so far in the year at that point. And then I forgot about it until around early September.
At that point I observed I was still reading quite a bit of nonfiction and also more comics than I ever have before. And when I was choosing fiction, most of the time I prefered SFF. I briefly interrogated myself, why don’t you read a classic? What about Dickens? You like him. Or Henry James? Willa Cather or someone from your list that is a bit off the beaten path? I browsed and nothing caught my interest. I went for a science fiction novel instead.
Then, over the weekend, as I was finishing reading The Great Derangement, I was struck again with not being all that interested in literary fiction. Did it have to do with the election? Other events going on in the world? No, because the nonfiction has mostly been about racism and climate change and other current events. The SFF has tended to be about climate change, overcoming difficulties, meeting the Other and building relationships. Comics have focused on woman and girl power, friendship, identity, the power of stories and overcoming prejudice. They have all somehow seemed more relevant and more engaging than literary fiction lately. They seem to be wrestling more and better with my concerns. Not that I haven’t read any good literary fiction this year, I have, and I am currently enjoying Elena Ferrante’s Story of a New Name. It’s just that literary fiction has not been the go-to it has in the past.
I don’t know what it means or if it even means anything. It is just something that I have noticed about my reading this year. A couple weeks ago as I was reaching for my next book I caught myself feeling apologetic as once again my hand picked up a fantasy novel. But I refuse to be apologetic and scolded myself for it. We should never apologize for our reading no matter what it is. I’m just finding it all curious and it has my thoughts roaming and wondering with no partiular agenda, just observations and questions that might not have any answers.