Fiction vs. Non-fiction | INFJ Forum

Fiction vs. Non-fiction


Aug 15, 2009
I'm very new to even knowing I'm an INFJ, and today happens to be my birthday, so here's my "coming-out thread" (and yes, I learned on Facebook). Whee!

Over these past few days, as I've become familiar with "INFJ issues," I've noticed a marked preference in INFJ booklists for non-fiction over fiction. Not just here, but on other forums as well...

As for myself, I'm not sure I've read fiction for pleasure since before puberty. The only exception that comes to mind is the short stories of David Foster Wallace (who wrote Infinite Jest, which I still haven't read, but whose non-fiction, for me, truly is water). Nor do I tend to "watch fiction," no matter how acclaimed; when renting movies, I always head for the documentary section first (American Movie is my favorite). If pressed for a favorite "real film," I have, again since puberty, picked 2001: A Space Odyssey, which has an entrancing effect on me similar to DFW's writing.

So there are my obligatory intuitive leaps and tangents... now tell me, INFJs: to what extent is this distaste for fiction a shared experience?

And for those who know what I'm talking about here, I would also ask: why do we feel this way? Is it because we can't remember the names of characters? Because we're already imagining better things for them to do than what the author/screenwriter/director came up with? Because there's so much to learn about the way the world actually is that there just isn't any time for fiction, however pleasant a diversion it may be? Is it that the "metaphors for real life" that are supposed to justify fiction as more than a pleasant diversion tend to strike us as banal, or at least unsurprising and very far from envelope-pushing or boundary-shattering?

And can I shut up now? Well, it's my birthday... crack a beer on my head.

Edit: Nope, couldn't shut up. I should mention that I do have a soft spot for extremely heavy-handed, Greco-Roman archetypal over-the-top fictionality: Star Wars, Star Trek, Edward Scissorhands, Beavis and Butt-head, the Harry Potter movies (but not books!), etc. And now I'm noticing that all those titles tend to get mentioned in print in "non-italicized" contexts, which probably says something about their archetypal appeal!
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First, Happy Birthday! :mhula:

I'm not sure if most INFJs prefer non-fiction. I wish I could find the source, but I once saw that the opposite was true, that most INFJs prefer fiction (top of that list was fantasy).

Me, I like a variety of books. I have two books I'm working on back and forth. One is Chris Rose's "1 Dead in Attic" about the Katrina disaster and the other is a huge monster of a group of fantasy books (10) merged into one book. Can't recall the name of it at the moment.

I think you'll find a variety of readers on this board, and there is a link to what everyone is reading (you might have to use the search button to find it).
Personally, I love a good story with strong characters. However, I do show a greater appreciation for nonfiction than my peers. One thing I've noticed is that my favorite fiction books are the ones that make me think.
I like fiction but I like it when the characters have real personalities and real flaws.
on the books thread, i realized that many INFJs here like reading fiction. i never read fiction (novels, narratives) but i spend much of my free time reading non-fiction books. i love poetry though and write more of it than i read. i don't know the exact reason why i don't read fiction...i have an active imagination of my own but i don't suppose that equates to reading the imaginative works of other people. when i do read fiction, it's either mysteries or ones that make me think, like Fizzitster mentioned. i have a distaste for sentimental romance novels. eek.
i don't know the exact reason why i don't read fiction...i have an active imagination of my own but i don't suppose that equates to reading the imaginative works of other people. when i do read fiction, it's either mysteries or ones that make me think, like Fizzitster mentioned. i have a distaste for sentimental romance novels. eek.[/QUOTE]

Maybe you see more of a purpose in reading nonfiction and things that make you think?
Maybe you see more of a purpose in reading nonfiction and things that make you think?

yeah i think that would be it. now that you mention, maybe i feel too engulfed in expanding on those topics that reading fiction would somehow act more like a distraction than enjoyment. this might be because fiction often draws you into its world and requires you to delve into the story in order to fully experience it. this takes a fair amount of energy and preoccupation of mind as each new story represents a whole new context to adjust yourself to, contemplate, and identify with...whereas nonfiction, although new information, adds to or modifies an already structured mental framework.
I have a hard time reading fiction. It just won't hold my attention after a couple of chapters.
But why is watching a show or movie that is pure fiction not an issue?

I'm mechanically inclined. I like facts, learning how things work.
I find paging through a technical manual to be more interesting.
Happy Birthday and welcome to the forum! Write lots because at l,000 posts you get a prize.

Just the facts, please.
I'm not sure if all infj prefer non fiction;I think as a whole I prefer fiction. I love not being able to predict where the story is going; with lots of creative unexpected twist and turns that keep me on the edge and exercise my imagination. But every once and a while I will dive into a bitter sweet non fiction story. I can remember growing up though and watching the history/discovery/science channels like crazy. It was all very interesting to me and still is. I love a good documentary every once and a while.


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I prefer Fiction. In fact I have real trouble with Non-fiction. I have tried reading about three biographies but I couldn't get passed the first chapter.
My favourite genre has got to be fantasy. I suppose it is my abhorrence toward technology and love of all things magic and unexplainable.

I found out my type etc the same way you did. Facebook application but I got really involved in it and have subsequently taken several tests to determine my type... I must hasten to add that every single test I have done has so far returned an INTJ result, however the description of the INFJ is more suited to my actual personality. I wonder if I return an INTJ result from desiring to be less feeling but not sure. I am still looking into that :)

Welcome to the forums and I wish you luck on your journey toward understanding your type.
I have to say, I absolutely positively abhor non-fiction. I can read an article from a magazine or newspaper but even reading one chapter out of a book, well it just bores me to tears. I'd take fiction over non fiction any day.

I love great writers who use literature as an art; where their words paint vibrant landscapes and they mold their characters by language. It probably has something to do with me being delusional and easily bored with the real world, but I just get so caught up and lost in the excitement and drama in great pieces of work that I'll read for hours and hours if my schedule allows it. I'd take a made up world over reality any day.

But when it comes to TV, I almost never switch away from the discovery/history/national geographic channels. Fiction on TV bores me.
I prefer realistic fiction. It's a little hard to describe, but I prefer fantasy stories that come from real reality and stuff that exsists in real life. Think the movie the ring. If something is too deep in to fantasy I can't really "apply" it and I don't find it all that interesting.

I actually like non-fiction, if something is real I just relate to it more and align with it. I crave relation to real life when I read. I also read non story stuff a lot. I am always on wikipedia.

I think INFJ's would prefer realistic fiction mostly. However, I can see them liking true fantasy as well. As an example, one of my best friends IRL (she is also a member here and goes by the name Minerva) LOVES all kinds of fiction. I have never met someone who loves to read (mostly fantasy) as she does. It is astounding.
a fellow non-fiction fan

I could not agree more with the original poster. It is very difficult for me to watch the entirety of a fictional movie, despite wanting to do so. In contrast, I can easily watch 4 full-length documentaries in a row and be enthralled by the content. The only exception would be sitcoms. I can watch a good television show for quite awhile because of the in-depth characterizations that the length of a TV series allows. In terms of books, I have enjoyed many fiction novels, but none that veer too far from reality. In Cold Blood is a favorite of mine because it is a combination of fiction and non-fiction.
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I am a lover of non-fiction, too. Overall I find it more compelling than fiction. I do value the role of fiction in conveying certain types of ideas, but I am highly suspicious of the sometimes murky boundary between fact and fiction found in some works.

I subist on critical history and literary analysis mostly because, if I am going to make those wonderful INFJ connections, it'd better be based on the very best scholarship available.