Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Telling someone that I shy away from reading non-fiction feels a bit like admitting I prefer Cadbury's Dairy Milk to that 70% cocoa mass stuff, and that I prefer cinema to theatre. All are true.

Obviously I've had to read non-fiction in the past: you can't get two degrees in psychology by reading novels. But nowadays the only non-fiction I read avidly are books about how to write.

Last year I read a review of this book in the paper -

It sounded enticing, and my lovely brother gave it to me for my birthday.  I began to read it. The chapters are very short - typically 6 or 7 pages, and they are packed with fascinating details that are new to me, and would probably be new to you as well. So why is the book sitting on my bedside table with a bookmark a third of the way in? Because I've been neglecting it in order to read a pile of novels. Stories about human beings are always more alluring to me than facts. It's why I've never watched an Attenborough series on the telly. (I can hear your sharp intakes of breath from here. Yes, I know it's about the photography as well. Add it to the list of unmentionables in my first paragraph.)

The other problem with non-fiction these days is that I can't retain the facts, no matter how delectable they are. I begin to tell Dave something fascinating about trees and then I dry up because the details have slipped from my memory. ( I commend to you this Billy Collins poem called Forgetfulness.)

I'm between novels at the moment, so this morning I decided I would commit to reading one chapter a day of the tree book and writing down in pencil at the end of the chapter the three most interesting points I've just read. We'll see how long I manage to keep that up. 

Back to fiction - do you have any suggestions? Has anyone read Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine?  Did you enjoy it?

A propos of nothing - Spring came to our lane today - our very first daffodils opened.


Unknown said...

June, my wife, says it's different - boring in parts and slightly irritating sometimes, but she is fascinated by it. Good for a first novel. She is nearing its end.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks, Chris. I might indulge myself and buy it.