Clerestory

Fiction ratio

October 24, 2019

Part 6 in a series on fiction. See this post for an introduction to the podcast I’m discussing and an overview.

Or, how much fiction does a man need?

After writing about fiction for the past few weeks, I began to wonder how much fiction I myself in practice read. In my head, it was about 50/50. Luckily I log most book-length reading on my Goodreads (add me!) so it’s reasonably straightforward to count, and it was less than I expected.

Since about the end of 2016, I’ve logged 104 books. Of those:

  • 37 are fiction = ~35%
  • 67 are nonfiction = ~65%

This reminded me of something Philip Tetlock, in a nonfiction book, wrote about people describing odds:

But as researchers have shown, people who use “50%” or “fifty-fifty” often do not mean it literally. They mean “I’m not sure” or “it’s uncertain”—or more simply “maybe.”

Baruch Fischhoff and Wändi Bruine de Bruin, “Fifty-Fifty = 50%?,” Journal of Behavioural Decision Making 12 (1999): 149–63.

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I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter or see more here.