As a lover of all things book-related, I have a pretty hard time understanding why someone would hate novels. But I have a couple of friends and some family members who would rather read the entire English dictionary cover to cover than pick up a work of fiction. So, after a survey and bit of Internet hunting, it seems that there are several different reasons for why some people just don’t like novels.
For some, it’s just an incurable disdain that I don’t think any list can rectify. For others, it’s just that they prefer to go to books for facts and get their stories in quicker, more digestible forms, like movies. Still, for others, the problem is the pacing. And for a few unfortunate souls, their experience with novels was forever colored (a deep boring grey) by that mass murderer of potential literature-lovers: the high school reading list.
But for some of these novel-averse, there just might be a cure in the right novel. There are a lot of different types of novels out there and it’s possible you just haven’t found your match yet. But maybe, just maybe, if you try your hand at one of these novels, you just might find you don’t hate novels as much as you thought.
Sellout by Paul Beatty
If all the stuffy language and painfully slow pace in which an author describes a landscape for 50 pages is what you can't stand, then this is the book for you. Written in a completely casual and hilarious tone, this book’s opening scene involves a guy smoking weed at the Supreme Court of the United States, practically sticking it to the man.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
For the nonfiction lover, here’s a book that gives you lots of facts, namely about the Dominican Republic under the tyranny of the ruthless Rafael Trujillo. But it offers up these facts through the up close and personal lives of a lovable nerd Oscar and his family, showing how important it is to feel connected to the real lives of the people who lived that history.
Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker
All that “Freudian this… Freudian that” and painfully slow, boring realism got you down? Well, never fear, that may be what dominated the stodgy discussions in your school literature classes, but out here in the world, writers are doing all sorts of crazy things that break all the “rules” of literature you learned in school. Kathy Acker is one of them. In this crazy novel she basically trashes the “how to” guide for literature, kicks Freud in the Oedipal complex, and does whatever the hell she wants, including using all sorts of different form to tell this wild story.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Maybe you’re not a fan of novels because all the stories of angsty Victorian characters struggling against society bored you to tears in high school. In that case, you might try a novel, like Ready Player One where Victorian ideals are long dead and video games and '80s references make the world go round.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson is basically the modern day patron saint of playing with science and math. In Snow Crash he goes full on geek and plays with computer science. If you’re the type you gets excited reading about the latest developments in Python, you’ll have a blast with a book like this.
Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt
Maybe you’re not a fan of novels because there’s all that subtext and digging through language to figure out what the author “really means” or whatever. Well, DeWitt doesn’t beat around the bush in this story about a man who fails as a door-to-door salesman until he decides to give men what they want — anonymous sex workers/secretaries in the workplace. Yep.
Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
This book makes a lot of my lists, because of the research that went into it. Unfortunately a lot of the human side of a lot of history is quite lost or very scattered. With Middle Passage, Charles Johnson put in the work to give a very realistic portrayal of what the middle passage was like during the Atlantic slave trade. Novels like this put the imagination to work in order to see the human side of facts even as we learn. Einstein himself said, “imagination is more important than knowledge.” Books like this show why we need a bit of both.