A year ago on Facebook and Twitter, I posted a question asking my friends and followers to suggest books to me that would help me break out of my comfort zone. Maybe it was the change of season, or all the pumpkin spice lattes I was drinking, but at the time, I was motivated to try something new and shake things up a bit.
As a reader I typically gravitate towards fantasy, sci-fi, historical novels, and contemporary romance. Browsing through bookstores I always avoid the Horror section, or breeze past any book with a dark, suspenseful looking cover. It struck me though, what a mistake I was making. As a librarian, not only should I be well-read in all genres, but I was missing out on worlds and characters that I could very well end up loving!
It’s not that I hate reading mysteries, thrillers, or horror stories. In fact I’ve read many that I have LOVED, including Rosemary’s Baby, Rebecca, and The Silkworm. It’s just that it takes a lot more effort for me to pick them up then something more comfortable like The Rosie Project or An Ember in the Ashes. If I had the choice between a suspense or a fantasy I would pick the fantasy every time.
I was actually surprised by the amount of responses I got back! Dozens of people, many of whom I hadn’t even talked to in years, wrote back giving me suggestions, and reasons why their book was worth picking up. From Chevy Stevens and Daniel Silva to Truman Capote and Jo Nesbo, the authors and books were are varied as the people suggesting them.
While it’s been hard breaking out of my comfort zone, I’ve definitely made some progress! In the past year I’ve read Louise Penny, Gillian Flynn, Joe Hill, Paula Hawkins, and Stephen King. I’ve loved some of the books and hated others, but I definitely plan to keep on trying new things!
Strangely enough, October always seems to be the easiest time of the year for me to break outside my reading comfort zone. It’s the one month where I’m actually itching to check out the horror section and read something scary. Obviously Halloween is a big influence on this sudden change of heart, but there is also something about the crispness of the Fall air, and the coziness of a warm sweater or blanket that makes me want to try something new. The print above from Lily & Val sums it up pretty well for me!
Some of the books I’m hoping to get through this October are The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and Slasher Girls and Monster Boys (a collection of short stories by some popular YA authors).
I’ve already started listening to The Graveyard Book on audiobook, narrated by none other then Neil Gaiman himself, and it is really good so far! I never realized what a great narrator Neil Gaiman is, and the voices he gives his characters really bring them to life. The music at the beginning and end of each cd also lends the perfect amount of eeriness to the story!
So what do you think about reading outside our comfort zones? Is it something you have tried before? What genres do you tend to avoid? Do you think we miss out on anything by sticking to particular types of books or authors?