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Are readers of fiction few in numbers these days?

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Mary Knox Merrill/CSM/File

(Read caption) Has reading fiction become a lonely business?

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As the Monitor's book editor, a large part of my job is trying to determine reader tastes. But nowadays, there's much less guesswork in determining what readers do or do not like. Online, the Monitor's readers vote with their clicks. And in print, there are reader surveys and focus groups that tell us (or purport to, anyway) fairly precisely what our readers prefer.

But recent results from some of these surveys conducted with readers of the Monitor's print version have left me somewhat perplexed. What they seem to tell me is that Monitor readers have very little interest in fiction.

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The survey results seem so definite that it's hard to argue with them. Review a book about the Berlin Wall, the Chinese countryside, or a figure in politics or finance, and reader approval shoots up into the 80th or 90th percentile.

However, review a novel – even one by a well known author such as Anne Tyler, A.S. Byatt, or Arthur Phillips – and reader ratings drop well below the 50th percentile.

This is where I need you to hear from me. Please let me know – either in the comments here or my Facebook page – what do you like to read? Do you like fiction? If so, which authors and what kind?

Or are you a strictly nonfiction reader? And if so, what do you prefer in that realm – politics, history, biography, memoir, real-life adventure, and/or arts and entertainment?

Please let this book editor know: What kind of book would you most like to see reviewed?

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

What kind of book do you most like to read? Join the Monitor's book discussion on Facebook and Twitter.


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