Discussions

The Sad Truth About Reading Fiction

This is something I have been thinking about for quite a while, and I thought it would be really interesting if I shared my ideas on here and then had other people respond with what their opinion on this was, since I feel like a good 99% of the reviews I see in the book-blogging community are on fictitious books.

*this is just my opinion, everyone has a right to their own and of course things like this also tie into what your whole outlook on life is and everything*

If someone ever asked me what my guilty pleasure was, they would most possibly be disappointed with my response of “reading fiction” and although that may be too boring, it’s also too true. It never used to be that much of a problem, because until I started book blogging, I wouldn’t read a great deal of books, perhaps once a month.

However, after joining the book blogging community and seeing everyone else reading so much and tracking the books they have devoured every week and month and year, it makes you a bit more competitive and motivated to read more. I also discovered so many more hyped series that I became excited to read.

When my exams finished this year, for a good few weeks I was reading like 12 hours per week, from what I can remember from my screen time (since I mostly read ebooks). That is a huge amount of time to be spent reading about imaginary worlds and characters, and I really don’t think it’s enough of an excuse to say it’s beneficial because it “expands my vocabulary” because if I was that enthusiastic I might as well just read a dictionary. Although I don’t think that counts for historical-fiction, because that helps you learn more about history as well, and I really did learn a lot from books like The Prodigal Daughter and The Huntress and simultaneously extremely enjoying myself.

The sad truth about reading fiction is, you’re pretty much wasting your time unless it is perhaps apart of your essential winding-down process towards the end of the day (or historical-fiction), but personally usually then I’m too tired to read and just end up getting really confused, so I just watch TV or YouTube then. And I’ve begun to feel pretty bad about the amount of time I’ve been wasting on fictitious books.

So, I’ve decided to make a mid-year reading goal – and that documenting it on this blog might motivate me more into following suit. I intend to read a lot more non-fiction and historical-fiction (instead of fantasy) – I don’t want to say a non-fiction book for every fiction book just yet, but basically I intend to read more non-fiction: whether those are Islamic books (I’ve already started) or about history, politics (already started) and science.

If I make reviews on these they might not be as long as my reviews on fiction books, I’m not sure how much I’ll have to say of them because you can’t really critique a book that’s just telling you facts, can you?

What do you think about this mid-year goal? Do you agree with what I’ve decided to do and my thoughts on this? Do you have any good non-fiction books you’d recommend? Speak soon 🙂

19 thoughts on “The Sad Truth About Reading Fiction”

  1. Hey, kudos to you! You know what you want to do, and you’re definitely entitled to feel the way you do.

    That being said, I personally read fiction books because I prefer to escape reality at the end of the day.

    The hustle and bustle of every day is a tad depressing and boring, and that’s why I read fiction, for a great adventure I can go on.

    I do think reading a nonfiction book myself would be beneficial, so I’ll definitely be considering that going forward as long as I find the subject matter interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been following your blog for a while now, so I feel like I have a good idea of where some of your trepidations might be coming from. Full disclosure here: I’m much older than you, and I’ve been through much of what you are experiencing. So, allow me to give you my 2 cents on this as your older sister.

    First of all, let me just say that I love seeing young Muslim sisters so passionately talk about books. I always look forward to reading your posts and you never disappoint. Your excitement and enjoyment clearly comes through when you are reviewing these books. I hope you’ll continue blogging about books for a very long time. Mashallah, you are fabulous at it.

    Now, on to the topic of this post. It is perfectly normal as we get older and change that our interests shift as well. Our views, opinions, perspectives, and priorities shift over time, and that is also very true were our taste in books are concerned. YA is a very popular genre amongst younger readers. While I’m happy to see people reading and try not to be too much of a genre snob lool, I must say that the problem with YA is that it suffers from some serious limitations. YA books often remind me of Harlequins in how formulaic they are. I do a lot of tutoring and I’ve noticed that young people who read YA exclusively have a hard time transitioning toward the wider world of fiction. They often struggle and find the plots of non YA books too complex, the vocabulary too rigid, and are generally bored by it because these books are not tailor-made to appeal to a younger audience.

    I’m glad you want to explore beyond your favourite genre and expand your horizons. Mashallah, that is a sign of growth and maturity. I’ve noticed that in both book blogging and booktube the emphasis is put on the number of books being read. It seems quite competitive and people are trying to read as much books as possible in a short period of time. The problem with this is that it is not conducive to making the best of what you are reading. One should take the time to enjoy and reflect on the story that is being told. The current trend in both book blogging and booktubing puts quantity over quality though. Most people are reviewing the same books. The more popular a book the more pressure there is for reviewers to read them, and since most book reviewers concentrate on YA those are the books that are being reviewed the most.

    I think this is what explains your current restlessness where books are concerned. Let me reiterate however, that it is never a waste of time to read. It is probably the only hobby that is worth having honestly. Both fiction and non-fiction can be good or absolutely dreadful. But, since you read primarily YA and mostly fantasy, I can see why you might feel like you are not learning from them. I think you’ve simply outgrown the genre Ruqs, and that is perfectly ok. I’m glad you want to expand your taste, I think you’ll enjoy it greatly. But, if I can give you a piece of advise it is the following: Take your time. Forget about reviewing as many books as possible, or following what is deemed popular. Reading is a personal endeavour. Read what you want to read and I promise you those of us who love your blog will continue reading your posts faithfully. Since you wish to venture into non-fiction may I suggest that you start slowly? Non-Fiction is different in the sense that it is not plot driven exactly. Depending on the subject it can be quite heavy actually. I find that people who prefer fiction are often easily turned off from non-fiction because it fails to hold their interest in the same way.

    Now as far as historical fiction goes, I must warn you a lot of it is heavy on the romance. Although the genre claims to be historical, most of it is loosely historical lol. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but just know that although they use historical context/events as the backdrop for their stories, it is not exactly accurate and sometimes it can even lead to some serious misunderstandings of real history. If you want to learn more about history I would suggest that you read actual history books. Fiction is huge, and I really hope you’ll take the time to explore it more and won’t abandon it completely. I’ve learned so much through the classics and fiction in general, I can honestly say it contributed greatly to my overall growth as a person.

    As far as suggestions go, I have a ton loool. I’m not sure exactly what your interests are in non-fiction, but these are a few books that can help you explore your taste a bit more.

    Non-Fiction:
    1) The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet.
    2) Spiritual disease and its cure (this one is available as a PDF through Kalamullah.com)
    3) The book of faith (also available at Kalamullah.com)
    4) The immortal life of Henrietta lacks (science related)
    5)Newton and the Counterfeiter: the Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist
    6) The Scramble for Africa (history)
    7) A peace to end all peace (history)

    Fiction:
    1) Crime and punishment (Russian literature)
    2) The heart of darkness (English literature)
    3) Things fall apart (African literature)
    4) Madame Bovary (French literature)

    I’m looking forward to your future reviews, Ruqs. Please feel free to reach out to me if you need more suggestions for both non-fiction and fiction.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. First of all, jazakallakhair sister. I don’t have an older sister (I am the older sister lol) so a lot of the time I find I’m the one who figures things out and then tells the younger one haha, so I really appreciate it 🙂

    Jazakallakhair sister, that is really sweet and means a lot that someone so much older and wiser and smarter than me would enjoy my posts. The only reason I thought I might not continue reviewing books anymore is because I didn’t think people (or my current audience) would be interested in Islamic books (which I’m mainly trying to focus on) and non-fiction and classics (which I’ve always read and loved).

    You’re right, I guess it’s because I didn’t think it would happen so quickly for me when I have a couple years of my teens left and I see grown adults reading YA. You’re right, sister. Especially with the fantasy genre, i’ve become really bored by it and the past 2 weeks I have been unable to read any because I feel like I’ve already read the same thing so many times over. I find myself preferring other books now because of that, like I’m really taking my time with The Count of Monte Cristo because I’m really enjoying the intricacy of the plot.

    Jazakallakhair! Yes exactly, you’re right, and I feel like that’s also had a negative impact on my reading despite how small my blog is in comparison to all the other thousands out there.

    Yes, that makes a lot of sense. You’re right. I’m starting off with Islamic books (I’m currently reading The Dreamer’s Handbook by Ibn Kathir which I’m already half way through and am finding extremely interesting) because I love Islam and I’m always listening to khutbahs so I know it would be easier for me to read Islamic books, although a lot of the ones I’ve tried reading from our family bookshelf I have found very dense and difficult to read and made me realise that I lack a lot of background information to fully understand those books. That’s why I was sooo happy when I saw you recommended books to me since that was exactly what I was going to ask you!

    Yes, actually, I realise now I failed to mention it in my post, but the primary reason I’ve actually decided I need to stop reading YA and decrease my fiction reading because of the amount of sexual content. It’s just too much and there’s only so much skipping you can do. I’ve been using Goodreads for almost two years now and I find myself falling back on the same borderline Middle-Grade books or classics when it comes to recommending romance and sexual content free books to people.

    Yes, one thing I think I’ve learned a lot more in fiction is just about people in general. I’ve found that really interesting (perhaps one of the reasons I’m pursuing a psychology degree) but like you said, YA is very limited so I’ll need to go beyond that to other genres. The only thing is, I don’t think I’m ready for adult fiction yet…

    I’m so glad you have so many suggestions! With non-fiction my interests tend to just be Islamic or history or something interesting such as this title I found on Goodreads called ‘The Secret Life of Trees’ (basically learning more about Allah (swt)’s creation).

    I have The Sealed Nectar, one of my friends actually gifted it to me a few years ago but it has also been sitting on my family bookshelf for a lot longer than that, but my dad told me that instead of reading that I should just listen to Yasir Qadhi’s seerah series since it’s much better so that’s what I’ve been doing. I have also read When The Moon Split several times so I’m not sure if that means I still have to read The Sealed Nectar? I was told that When The Moon Split is essentially the same thing, just better written (I actually want to reread that again, too).

    I saw The Spiritual Disease and its Cure when I was looking for The Dreamer’s Handbook and that also looks really interesting so I’ll definitely give it a go inshallah. Topics like these are also really important, and I always want to learn about them to make sure I don’t have it myself. Yasir Qadhi’s lecture on The Hard Heart especially really struck me because I could think of a good few friends in mind who I think have something similar.

    The Book of Faith also looks really interesting inshallah. I have full intentions to read the last two of the Islamic books you have read. In a recent khutbah I listened to I also learned that there are 77 branches of faith which is really interesting so I really want to learn more about that and hopefully identify which one is mine.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Newton and the Courtfeiter look SO fascinating and wow cloning cells and Newton being a detective?! Also, sister could you please give me the author for The Scramble for Africa because I couldn’t find the book for it. This is a piece of history I’ve learned a lot about because I have some family there and definitely something I want to learn more about. A Peace to End All Peace looks really interesting, too.

    For your fiction titles – I’ve only heard of the first one so I have a lot of reading to get down to! Inshallah I will get to all of them once I finish The Count of Monte Cristo.

    Jazakallakhair, sister – I really appreciate it. Know that you made a young girl somewhere in the world very happy 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you! That’s a very valid point, just for me personally I felt I was reading way too much fiction it was just an overdose. I agree, sometimes I just avoid the news for that very reason. That’s cool, good luck with your future reading! Personally, I’m a Muslim so I want to read a lot more Islamic books to learn more about my religion. I would also love to read more books about the world in general like politics or science or history.

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  5. Mashallah, your younger sibling is lucky to have you, Ruqs. The best thing we can ever get from our parents and older siblings is sound advice and good suggestions. May Allah (swt) reward you for being a good older sister and guiding your younger sibling.

    The great thing about book reviews is that everyone finds something they can enjoy. The more diverse the content you are reviewing, the more likely you are to not only attract new readers, but also satisfy your current audience. Even if they are not interested in Islamic books, I’m sure they’ll find the other books you are reviewing interesting. As for those of us who enjoy Islamic books, we will be quite happy. They’re are very few blogs reviewing Islamic books, so I’m looking forward to your posts.

    The author of the Scramble for Africa is called M.E. Chamberlain. As far as the Sealed Nectar goes, there are indeed a lot of lectures that talk about its content. If you find a good lecture that covers it well, you don’t need to read it again. Another book I forgot to mention is The Book of Contemplation by Usama ibn Munqidh. It is about how Muslims saw the Crusades. It is very interesting.

    Wa iyaki my dear Ruqs. Consider me your older sister, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jazakallakhair. I admit I’m not the perfect older sister and I have many flaws but I try my best 🙂

    That’s true! Ok inshallah that sounds good, I’d love to talk about Islamic books, I love them so much more than ordinary ones.
    The Book of Contemplation looks really interesting!

    Jazakallakhair! and my real name is Ruqayyah 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I really enjoyed reading your post here! And I can totally relate! While I do feel like sometimes I have advantages in school because I’m reading a lot (only fiction), you do have a point because we won’t be able to impress anyone with or knowledge of Harry Potter…
    And we seem to always have the same thoughts because I’ve also begun to think about reading non-fiction a bit more to get a little more knowledge (also good for school haha), so I’d really love it if you showed your updates or posted reviews! I was also thinking about reading the genre economics, history and politics because it basically helps you in every way possible – in school, later in university, general conversation with adults… So I’m definetely encouraging your decision!!!!!
    Imagine some emojis here, I don’t have any on my Mac, but anyways – hearts!!!
    Happy reading!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. No problem!

    I do agree that fiction could definitely include more relevant factual information and that way it could also be a learning experience.

    Yeah, totally! Read what you want to read, no shame in that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ahh girl, we’re on the same boat then!! I hope to finish the non-fiction books I’m currently reading soon and share them – and you share yours too – we can encourage each other!!! 🙂 Thank you, you too!!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Yes, that’s why I enjoy reading historical fiction, although sometimes there’s a bit too much fiction so the history gets a bit distorted. Thank you, and you too – best of luck with your reading 🙂

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  11. Ruqs, you write about whatever you want. Broadening your reading horizons will only grow you as a person, and make you even more wonderful to read posts from.
    As I have gotten older I have tried many different genres. I used to read a lot of crime and thriller books, and I still read the occasional classic. However, I read a lot of non-fiction (humanities, communication, government and politics, and history) for work, but don’t list this on the blog because my primary reading audience is that YA age group, but also because I have a preference for contemporary and fantasy books. I read them for a change of pace from what i do for work, and to relax. But everyone is unique and individual, so you should read and write about what interests you, not just what is popular. 💕

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