I once listed every book title I read over a year, and placed them under Fiction or Non-fiction headings. If you had asked me, I would have guessed I read more fiction than non-fiction, but actually it was about 50/50.

I’m curious about your reading preferences. Do you read only one genre, like mysteries or science fiction?  Are you more eclectic, and read everything from literary novels, to history, to thrillers? One person told me he reads only non-fiction because reading fiction was “a waste of time.”

I believe we can learn much from all kinds of literature. For example, a literary novel takes a character from one state of mind, set of behaviors, or world view to another, hopefully better, paradigm. The character evolves through life lessons, challenges, and growing insights. I may not have walked his walk, but by the end of the novel, I may have learned more about life as the protagonist faced one challenge after another.

Although not a mystery fan, I do enjoy Agatha Chrisite because she places her novels in England. “Place” can be as important as a character or plot point. It effects the way the characters respond to their situations because we are all products of our environment and culture. If written well, the author puts me in a foreign location I may never have the opportunity to physically visit. I have never traveled to England, but am fond of British culture. At one time, I read only novels by British writers.

It is amazing what you can learn by reading fiction. Years ago, when I was working in the hospital, the nurse, giving us an update on each patient during change of shift, said a certain patient was confused. She knew that because the woman kept asking to go to the “water closet.”

“No, she’s fine,” I said. “Water closet is the British term for bathroom.”

I love other British expressions such as: having a “toes up” is taking a nap; a “chin wag” is a conversation; being at “sixes and sevens” means one is confused or overwhelmed; and being “sent to Coventry” means you are in trouble and will be punished. (I don’t know why being in Coventry is a considered a bad thing. Maybe my British friend, Glen, can tell me.)

The last fiction book I read was The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley. The book’s cover was Medieval in style, so I knew it would be about the thriving market for relics during the Protestant Reformation. I was familiar with the Reformation, since Church history is one of my interests. The author’s past books have been contemporary satires of current politics. According to the book jacket, Buckley changed focus and ventured into history, the 16th century to be exact, and found “splendid material and characters, some of whom actually existed.”

Although the main protagonist, Dismas, is fictional, his adventure involved historical figures such as the painter Albrecht Duer (his partner in crime), Archbishop Albrecht, and the Elector of Saxony, (Friedrich the Wise, who protected and supported Martin Luther). Greed, art forgery, murder, theft, and a love interest kept me turning pages to the end.

What are you currently reading? What kinds of books hold your interest and why? Is there a book you would recommend? What must a novel have to have to keep your interest? What are your pet peeves? How likely are you to purchase a book, rather than check it out from the library, and why?