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This is a bit of an embarassing statement, but I’ve stopped reading fiction.
When I was growing up, I was a voracious reader. I sped my way through so many Hardy Boys books (certainly over 200 of ‘em); I gobbled up biographies. But I think my true love had to be Star Wars fiction. I can’t tell you how much of my brain is storing pages and pages of Star Wars canon that J.J. Abrams is about to invalidate. But we’re getting off topic…
I find myself listening to audiobooks far more often than I crack open a real-live…well, Kindle. But I’ve made my peace with that. As a programmer who stares at words for ten to twelve hours a day, I think I’m entitled to relax and close my eyes for a bit while I read.
As long as I’m avoiding abridged versions, it’s not too hedonistic, right?
Am I Getting Old?
I’ve noticed myself curling up and listening to personal finance books. To memoirs. To self-improvement texts (and if you’ve ever delved into the SI genre, you know this is a pretty masochistic tendency. So many of them are awful!).
Non-fiction is something that’s not typically targeted toward children. I’ve never come across One Fish, One-point-two-five Fish, Compounded Annually, or The Zen Guide to Tummy Time. I suppose Bossypants has some appeal to teens, but I think we can all agree that Tina Fey is the immaculate exception to every rule.
But I do find myself wondering if my tastes in books have simply matured. Whereas I now consider coffee to be one of the basic food groups, as a kid I found it bitter and dry. Is my literary taste similarly evolving? Is non-fiction the literary equivalent of the broccoli I rejected as a child?
What About Movies?
In complete contrast with my trend toward non-fiction, I still can’t quite dig in to documentaries. I enjoy them from time-to-time, but I’d much rather sit back and watch Walter White subtlely indicate his transformation.
This irks me a bit. Am I perhaps becoming less empathetic? That I can only really appreciate fictional characters on the screen, rather than on the page?
I’m not so sure. One of the things I adore about film and television is the subtlety of well-portrayed characters. While a narrator can tell us “Jim is upset,” it’s virtually impossible to oversimplify in this manner when we see a character furrow his brow, bite his tongue, then shrug it off and offer a semi-convincing smile.
Perhaps the absence of a narrator on a screen forces us to imagine characters complexly. Or, more likely, I’ve lost a bit of my childhood imagination.