I’ve been reading mainly non-fiction for a while now. I have bad fiction-reading habits – for a long time I would read half a book and become distracted. Once I did this with The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and left a character down a well for six months. At least I did come back to it. I never finished The Blind Assassin, because I knew Something Awful was going to happen.
Emotionally intense though non-fiction can also be, it doesn’t really have the same effect on me. Last year I read Richard Holmes’ two part biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The second book, Darker Reflections, (and, therefore, the second half of Coleridge’s life) was full of disappointments, financial and emotional difficulties, addiction and pain, but even though he was actually a real person who experienced these things, rather than a fictional character, it didn’t make me want to stop reading.
It’s been quite a long time since I’ve read a novel that I couldn’t stop reading*. When I love a book I read it all the time, and also very fast indeed. My all-time favourite novel is Under the Net by Iris Murdoch. It is incredibly funny and cleverly plotted, and one of those books that I keep buying for other people in the hope that they will like it as much as I do. I read it about once a year, and sometimes in 3 or 4 sittings.
A representative sample of the books currently on my desk are:
What novel could get me back into a fiction habit?
* Has anyone seen the film of Norweigan Wood yet? Is it good??