03/02/2015

Why Fiction Is Just My Cup of Tea {The Birdie Musings}


I've never been a big non-fiction lover.

It's not that I don't enjoy hearing people's life stories, or that I'm against non-fiction in general, I've just always preferred the escape of fiction.

I've read some really interesting biographies and autobiographies that broke my heart or made me giggle like a small child and so I'm always willing to pick stuff like that up. But no matter what I feel when I read it, nothing seems to compare to what I feel when I read fiction.

There's just something about fiction that completely pulls me in and I like never knowing how the author plans to make me care about the characters and the world they have created. I like the journey of getting to know these amazing people and a plot too fantastic to ever be real.

I like wishing it was real.

More often than not, non-fiction can be depressing. Bad stuff will happen at some point and it gives me a sad because those folks are real. I don't want bad stuff happening to real people. 

But it's kind of fun when it happens to fictional peeps.

There's less guilt in fiction. It's a constant rollercoaster of so many emotions, but the thing is that you know none of it is real. So even when awful things happen to characters you love, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that it's fiction. And when good things happen, you can daydream that it's possible for these things to happen in real life. 

Fiction is a way to escape the world and immerse myself in the fantastic. It lets me forget my troubles by throwing myself into a new world of magic and romance and whatever else the author chucks my way. 

Do you think there's a stigma attached to readers who prefer fiction? Have you ever encountered people who think non-fiction readers are more 'intellectual'?

Allie has been having an argument with her Goodreads challenge, because it's being far too pushy. It keeps trying to force her to read a thousand books a day and as a result her TBR pile is taller than she is. She's now worried it will fall off her shelf and smoosh her in the night.


62 comments:

  1. I definitely do think there's a stigma attached to purely fiction readers, because it's 'imaginary stories' rather than about education by reading business books or things for learning you know? But I loved how you covered it so eloquently, it's all about the escape, the lack of guilt and the experiencing new and wonderful things that can't happen in real life. Great discussion Allie!

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    1. That definitely seems to be the feel when I speak to people not part of the blogging community. It's like, 'oh, you just read fiction? Hmmm, oookay then'

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  2. I definitely prefer fiction to nonfiction. Unless I am really passionate about the person, I don't really care about their memoir. I have been trying to branch out though and read more nonfiction, just to be a little but more diverse with my reading. But I don't think there is anything wrong with sticking to fiction.

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    1. I'm the same! Though I did recently read a memoir about a person I had no clue about, it's called Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield and I really enjoyed it. One of the few exceptions, I guess!

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  3. You know I never thought about it before but I think you have some valid points. I do always think that those that read autobiographies or what have you as being more scholarly. I have no idea why. I guess maybe because they have way more patience and probably smarts than I do to read and understand through a lot of them out there.

    Is that a true assumption, probably not but I still always picture the professor type with these type of books. :)

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    1. That seems to be what most people think, but I totally disagree, because reading is one of the most subjective things out there. Just because some people choose to read books that are fictional, it doesn't mean they're not as intellectual. It just means they value escapism a little more

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  4. I've always loved both fiction and non-fiction, and I never thought there was as stigma for either one. Perhaps I am just sheltered and ignorant : ) If there is one, there definitely shouldn't be.

    Fiction is one of the best ways to develop intellectual vitality and has a ton of bonus benefits. One article I enjoyed was about how reading literary fiction improves empathy: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/novel-finding-reading-literary-fiction-improves-empathy/ There are so many other benefits too! I actually wrote a medium article about 8 reasons why I read fiction: https://medium.com/nerd-files/top-8-reasons-why-i-read-2a66f39f8efc

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    1. Haha you're definitely not ignorant, I think it's just that I've come across it quite a lot in the past week alone and it really got me thinking about other people's perceptions being dictated by something as bias as personal preference.

      Thanks for the articles! I'll check 'em out :)

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  5. I did already encountered people that though non-fiction was the only books worth reading, of course I ended up on an argument and one of their lines was that "only with non-fiction you can actual relate to the story" and also "only non-fiction books can give you feelings" (actual quotes). After this I realized that they just hadn't read any good fiction books yet and quit the argument, I hope one day they will be enlightened with some great fiction book that will crush their souls and all of that.

    Deyse @ Bound with Words

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    1. Only non-fiction books give you feelings? Uhm, that person clearly never read The Raven Boys because GANSEY, man. Richard Campbell Gansey III.

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  6. I got to admit, I barely ever read non-fiction and I think it's easy to dismiss readers of both categories. Mostly they do it to each other. I do admit I prefer fiction though. Maybe it's because I generally avoid contemporary which seems to be closest to non-fiction. Or maybe I deeply appreciate the creativity that is put into fiction. I guess I like to be reminded that people are capable of things bigger than life :)

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    1. I think it's the creativity too - I'm in awe at how these worlds are created and the characters are crafted so intricately. Fiction, to me, is like art. So I admire it and become inspired by it, but at the same time I understand that it's not to everyone's taste

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  7. I love fiction because it has endless possibilities and that gives me the ability to escape. Non-fiction always seems a bit too.. serious for my taste. I want to read about dragons, magic and other things that you'll never get to see or do in real life :) I don't see why reading non-fiction would make you more intellectual - and I'm happy I don't surround myself with people who think so.

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    1. Non-fiction definitely seems to stray towards seriousness, unless it's the biography of a comedian or something. Other wise it's heartbreak and sadness and things I don't like to think of happening to people in the real world. But you're right - enjoying those stories has no effect on your intellect, it's all just taste

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  8. I think there's more stigma attached to certain genres of fiction than there is to fiction in general. If you read purely literary fiction and/or classics, there are some people who are going to think you're "better than" someone who reads mostly YA fantasy, for example. I haven't actually encountered anyone who thinks non-fiction readers are more intellectual... but I have come across a few judgmental fiction snobs.

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    1. Oh, definitely. With the genre-snobbery (like romance, which gets SUCH a bad rep), but also with author snobbery too. With the classics and the 'greats'. Like, reading authors like George Orwell is bound to 'score more points' than reading someone like Marissa Meyer.

      Interestingly, as well, it's funny to see how it tends to be male authors that have the 'intellectual' label and are seen as social commentaries or books worth reading in the wider social sphere, but books by women are often dismissed as simple 'chick lit' and all lumped into the same category.

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  9. All of this! I think the great part about fiction is that even though it's "not real" you can still learn plenty about life and issues. I've read one non-fiction book in probably two years, and that was only because it was from a singer that really inspired me.

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    1. It allows you to learn life lessons without being preachy - I agree with that. Fiction usually has a moral of some sort, and if not it follows a character's journey and growth so you get to grow with them. You become connected to their story and learn as they do. So many books I've finished feeling inspired and like I've come away with a new kind of understanding

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  10. I'm like you. I prefer fiction, but I also like reading nonfiction in between the fiction, especially memoirs, biographies, books about the writing craft, or books about technology like artificial intelligence and computer science. You're right in saying that fiction is very comforting because it's fun to imagine that it's real, but it's nice to know it's not real.

    I think there's a stigma surrounding pure fiction reading, but honestly, classics are fiction, too, and you can't disgrace people who read the classics. Even if someone only reads modern fiction, that's still better than not reading at all, so I say let people read what they want to read, as long as they're reading. I really don't understand people who do not read. I can't even fathom it. :)

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    1. There's definitely a stigma attached to 'pure fiction reading' but I don't see why. And I don't see why some books (i,e. 'classics') are deemed more worthy than modern literature. Why is modern literature suddenly being dismissed as this ridiculous thing with no merit? It's so frustrating!

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  11. Oh gosh, isn't that true! Fiction doesn't make me feel guilty

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    1. And so it shouldn't! It's not a 'guilty pleasure', it's simply just a pleasure!

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  12. Brilliantly said Allie.

    I use fiction as an escape from my world as well, it allows us to travel to far off places, fictional worlds and swept up in the intense romance... All while my husband snores beside me. I'm of the same mind really, there's so much sadness and devastation in the world, that I don't need to read about it through non fiction as well. Reading is purely enjoyment for me, I don't need an education. Regardless of what we're reading, noone should be turning their noses up at fiction readers.

    You give me their names, I'll sort them out :D

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    1. That's exactly it – why does reading need to be this way of bettering ourselves by learning real facts about the world? Why can't it simply be a form of entertainment and art? Which, by the way, I think it is. I think of books like paintings – I don't necessarily learn brand new facts from them, they don't necessarily give me a history lesson (though sometimes they can), but that doesn't mean the experience I get from seeing/reading them isn't worthwhile. It doesn't mean I don't gain knowledge and understanding in some respect

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  13. I have run into the occasional reader that judges my choice for fiction over non-fiction. But I just LOVE fiction, I love escaping and exploring a new world.

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

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    1. I think people who judge the reading tastes of others just enjoy getting off on snobbery. It's like when someone criticises you for your music taste . . . like, what? It's YOUR TASTE, there's no right or wrong

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  14. Fun topic! I find that a lot of the fiction (most, if I am being honest) is more well written and more creative than non-fiction. So for me, it's almost the opposite. I guess it breaks down like this: Non-fiction readers are looking for something different than fiction readers. When I think non-fiction, I am thinking of a few things: guide-type books, biographies, memoirs, self-help, references... basically since it IS real life, it doesn't leave a lot of room to expand your horizons and be creative. BUT, there is certainly a need and a place for non-fiction. I do enjoy a funny memoir from time to time, but I admit that pretty much sums up my forays into non-fiction. I'll stick with our pretend worlds, thanks :)

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. That's the thing too – fiction can be a lot better than non-fiction because the writing is a lot better (in most cases). As in, it's more elegant and takes the time to really set the scene and draw us into the world. Non-fiction writing tends to be more factual and about 'getting to the point'. It's not as enchanting, I suppose.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on non-fiction, because I've read some great NF, but, yeah, I'll stick with the pretend too ;)

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  15. I love fiction. I love escaping reality. XD OKAY. I also love fiction because, even (like you said) as bad things go down and authors are horrifically mean to their characters...I can still whisper "it's not real". Whereas I find reading memoirs incredibly hard. >.>
    I feel like non-fiction people are the "intellectual" ones...but it's not true. I still believe reading makes you smarter, no matter what you read.

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    1. That's what I'm going to be whispering when Gansey dies. Or screaming. Screaming IT'S NOT REAL while I sob :P

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  16. I definitely think that there are those snobby moments where people can judge a person for not reading non-fiction. But reading is about pleasure. We read what we want to read, and what we like to read. And if that's fiction? Then hells to the yeah because fiction is awesome. For all the reasons you said, and a million more.

    For me, I've never been into non-fiction because I always studied so much. Study IS reading non-fiction all the time, so when I had free time - why would I go back into that world? I wanted to ESCAPE the real world, and there fiction was, waiting to do just that.

    But if there is a topic that really interests me, or a biography that I really want to read - then of course I will read it. In fact my favourite book of 2014 was a memoir, so there you go. But fiction will always be my #1, and I think that is more than okay!

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    1. That's me to a tea – I read so much non-fiction in school and uni, that when I read for pleasure I wanted something different. An escape that fed my imagination a little more. Once I graduated I was so happy to be done with the tireless non-fiction we were made to read in class. It sucked the joy from my life LOL

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  17. I feel similarly about fiction - I read it to escape, to relax, to swoon, to have FUN. If I want to read something realistic and sad, I'll read the news.

    I definitely do think there's a stigma attached to fiction readers (ESPECIALLY when it's YA to boot), but I also think, at least in my case, that some of that is self-imposed. I don't let it bother me enough to change my reading habits, but I do feel mildly self-conscious whenever I'm asked what I've read lately.

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    1. Oh, the news. Probably the single-handedly most depressing thing on the planet. I can't watch it on TV any more because it's just so awful and sad and BLAH. Now I just quickly read articles online to keep up-to-date.

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  18. "I don't want bad stuff happening to real people. [...] But it's kind of fun when it happens to fictional peeps." HA! Exactly. All those way-too-amazing and way-too-depressing things that you think up and/or want to happen, they're all possible in fiction.

    My dad always tells me that fiction books are useless, but I beg to differ. Fiction books also do have some realistic elements in there, and we all learn something from all the fiction books we read. :)

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    1. I definitely learn a lot from fiction. Maybe I don't learn about the world, but I learn a lot about myself as a person: who I am and who I want to be. Fiction, for me, promotes internal reflection and I love that

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  19. Oh definitely get what you mean. There's this real air about non-fiction--something about it being a little more intelligent, requiring a bit more brain cells. WHICH I DETEST. Because man oh man, sometimes it takes some real brain action for me to digest fiction. You described it perfectly to me. I'm a fiction reader as well. I don't even pick up non. It doesn't offer that form of escapism that I seek. I guess I just see too much of real life and well, it's not always that great. I want a fictional tale that has a definitive ending, if you get what I mean. Fabulous discussion Allie! <3

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    1. YES. Sometimes fiction is so complex, with the world building and such, that you need a 200 IQ to understand it LOL. It hurts my brain.

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  20. FICTION FTW. To be honest, I don't think I've ever read a non-fiction book yet. I love the imagination that comes with fiction. How these characters can sound or look however I want based on their description. Plus, I won't find any kick-a cyborg living near me that I'd want to befriend. I know some people who mainly read non-fiction and whenever I recommend an awesome 'teen/ya fiction' novel they just smile and say that's nice heh. I am all for the escape that fiction brings. Great topic, Allie!

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    1. That's true. Real life has no cyborgs. That's a serious oversight. COME ON, REAL WORLD. GET SOME ROBOTS IN THERE. THEN MAYBE WE'LL READ YOUR BOOKS

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  21. I absolutely adore this discussion topic Allie.
    There definitely is a stigma with fiction readers. Whenever I say i'm a reader people all ask me what bibliographies I've enjoyed the most. Whenever I say I read mostly fiction I get 'the look.' The look that makes people think i'm not a "proper reader".
    I don't read to escape, I've concluded that I don't (since I tend to seek out books with heavy and difficult subjects in the first place and well that isn't much of an escape)but I read to learn. There are lessons we learn reading fiction that we don't get from non fiction works. The way humans act, their emotions. What it means to step inside someone else's shoes and understand the choices they make. Fiction gives me things non fiction would never be able too.

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    1. I've got that kind of thing going on now actually. Someone is talking to me about all these non-fiction books and then when I mention fiction they're like, 'but I'm sure you wouldn't be content reading that stuff forever'. Uhm . . . yeah. Yes I would, actually

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  22. I've never thought of the guilt factor before when bad things happen to non-fictional characters... I've read some AMAZING non-fiction, but it's much more hit or miss for me. Like documentaries I guess - it depends how the information is presented and how "entertaining" it is whether I'll enjoy it or not, whereas with fiction - even OK fiction is readable, it's like a semi-well made romcom, you'll still sit through it but you wouldn't enjoy an OK documentary the same way... Does that make ANY sense?? Lol R x

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    1. MAKES TOTAL SENSE. It totally depends on the book and the subject being discussed. Especially if it's a biography, because you needed to be interested in the person to even want to care about their life story.

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  23. I can really only handle non fiction as an audiobook, and I better be REALLY interested if I'm going to go that route with it. I love fiction too. For me, it's the sweep-me-away-factor. Sometimes you just need to get away, you know? Nonfiction . . . notsomuch.

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    1. I never thought of getting non-fiction on audio. I always thought that'd be even more boring because then I couldn't skim read :P If it's a comedian's biography though, THAT is great on audio

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  24. I don't know if many people look down on others for reading fiction (though there are certainly stigma attached to some genres) but there are a lot of people who think intelligent people read non fiction. Now, that's a lie. I graduated at the top of my class and got into vet school and I've never read a biography or anything in my entire life. Not only that but I pretty much only read YA and fantasy novels. And to be honest I don't think I want to read anything else. Real life is boring and confined by all these restrictions. In fiction anything is possible.

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    1. It's definitely a lie. Reading is SUCH a person thing and your personal taste has no bearing on your intelligence. They're entirely separate. Would I be unintelligent if I preferred milk chocolate to dark chocolate? OF COURSE NOT. It's the same thing really, liking one style of writing means nothing about your intelligence and it's so annoying that people forever associate one type of book as being more intellectual than another

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  25. I think I've only read a couple of non fiction books in my whole life!I read them only when it's about a subject I love-like astronomy or history-but otherwise,I don't read them at all.
    And don't get me wrong,but I really don't want to read a whole book about a single person's life.
    I am sure I'll be distracted in a few pages itself.

    Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales

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    1. Astronomy would be interesting actually! I've never read an astronomy book before hmmmm. I could see the appeal of that!

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  26. Non-fiction can be so depressing! I read the Wall Street Journal every so often to stay up to date on news, but besides that not so much... It's boring as well as miserable. I love the emotions and the fact that anything can happen in fiction. Lovely post, Allie <33

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    1. I'm the same. I'll read the Guardian just to keep up-to-date on the world news, but aside from that I tend to stay away and I never watch the news on TV because THAT IS SO DEPRESSING IT'S RIDICULOUS.

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  27. Girl, I don't like non-fiction either. And like you, it kinda really kills me to think that something actually happened if it's a sad story or something. I just cannot deal with it, you know? And then there are the history books and... I HATE HISTORY. It just bores me, admittedly. But historical fiction? I LOVE.

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    1. See, I like history and I like learning about it but . . . history books just don't appeal to me. Like, I could not sit down and read a history book. I'd be bored out of my brain. For stuff like that, I'd rather learn from a person than a text book, as text books tend to be too formulaic and just . . . I don't know. So cold about it all

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  28. This is something I've never thought about in that much depth, but now that you've put it out there I can definitely say that I relate. It's just so much better knowing something is fiction. It's not REAL, it's a creation of the imagination, and that kind of makes everything a lot better, in my opinion anyway. Like, I don't think I would be able to handle the emotion that could come with reading a sad non-fiction book because IT HAPPENED and it goes to show how life can be so terrible.

    We all want to escape from reality after all.

    FANTASTIC post, girl!

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    1. And imagination feeds imagination, so the more I read the more inspired I am. But reading non-fiction doesn't inspire me. Sometimes, it can interest me. But I've never finished a non-fiction book feeling inspired and elated and with that magical kind of zeal in my heart.

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  29. I couldn't relate more to this, Allie. I'm all for fiction and rarely ever read non-fiction. I read because I want to escape to another world of endless possibilities, and for enjoyment (as you said, non-fiction can be pretty depressing)!

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    1. The escapist element is the most appealing for sure. Just knowing you can put aside your own world for a while and fall into someone else's where, a lot of the time, anything is possible and, in the end, things always work out

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  30. I definitely think that some people who only read non-fiction, usually in specific genres like politics or whatever, think that what they read is more important and enriching than fiction and I think that is nonsense. I prefer fiction but I want to make more effort to read non-fiction this year because I don't feel like I know enough about the world and I'd like to change that. It won't stop me reading made up stories though!

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  31. I think there is a stigma, but I tend to ignore it and not let it bother me. I wish I could read more non-fiction books, but they just don't work for me in the same way. I definitely agree that they can be quite depressing and I get way more sad when I know something terrible happened to someone real. I read books to escape for a while, not to make myself feel bad.

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  32. You know I think there probably is some of that, the folks that look down on fiction readers, or feel that literature or non fiction is better then fiction but ehh if they think that then they aren't the kind of narrow inded people I would ever want to have anything to do with. I I've real life so I don't need to read about it.

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  33. I think you might be my bookish soul mate. (I mean that in the least creepiest way possible.) I completely agree with you. I like reading non-fiction but I love fiction because it's an escape and it's a roller coaster and I love imaging that places like Hogwarts exist. And I love exploring new worlds and meeting new people, it's much less awkward than meeting actual real people.

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