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Discussion: Read Outside Your Comfort Zone

Hey all, Dani here.

I think I really need to try to come up with a list of bookish discussion topics. Honestly, about 85% of the time I put off writing my bi-weekly discussion posts until the last minute because I just don’t know what I want to write about. This is probably one of the areas of my blog where I’m the least organized, but I’ll get better. It’ll just take a little time. But if there’s any geek or book related topics you’d love to hear my opinions on, let me know in the comments.

Anyway, today I think I want to talk about the importance of trying books that aren’t in your usual reading comfort zone. Because trust me, it can be quite rewarding to pick up something different.

Like me, I read a whole lot of fantasy, in a variety of sub-genres, and then a little bit of contemporary romance and a little bit of science-fiction. As well as comics, graphic novels, and manga, but again, they tend to be fantasy themed.

I’m not a big fan of zombie related books/movies. It’s weird because I’m fine dealing with the vampiric undead or ghosts, but zombies are just gross. Maybe it’s the decaying flesh, maybe it’s the eating brains thing. But there have been a few times where I’ve given a zombie media a chance and have ended up loving it. For example the “Zombieland” movies, or the TV show “iZombie”–which I think is better than the comics but that’s a different discussion topic entirely [ooh, I should add that to my list]–, or the Something Strange and Deadly series by Susan Dennard, just to name a few.

Take these historical fiction books. Normally I wouldn’t pick up something that wasn’t historical fantasy or historical fantasy romance, but I decided to give Fatal Throne a chance because I have enjoyed watching the first season of “The Tudors,” though for some reason I have never continued to watch it. I own the complete series, so I need to finish it at some point. And it ended up being a cool collection of stories following each of the wives of Henry VIII. And okay, so the Outlander series has a tiny bit of magic of sorts in it because of the time-travel element, but that is fairly minor to the rest of the story. And yes, I also don’t read these books that quickly, despite enjoying them, but I’m finally getting ready to start the third book, and it wouldn’t have happened at all if I hadn’t decided to read something aside from my usual fantasy preference.

Or these alt-history science fantasy reads. The literary fiction world of Thursday Next is honestly fascinating to me and a bit on the odd side, which also makes it enjoyable. I realize that The Eyre Affair and the rest of the series won’t be the sort of books that will appeal to everyone, but as someone who loves literature to begin with, this was just fun and quirky and full of literary references, so I loved it. Likewise, The Philosopher’s Flight imagines a world of magic and science to do wonderful things like fly, and the ones who wield these skills the best are women, which greatly shifts the power dynamic of the world. I greatly loved reading it, and look forward to continuing the series, but I probably wouldn’t have tried it if I hadn’t decided to click request on NetGalley and see if I got approved. It ended up leading me to a book that I might have overlooked at a bookstore.

Then there’s these two books. One is a contemporary romance sure, but the main focus/character is the guy. Typically with these sorts of stories we are more focused on the female. I heard so many great things about this book, and it sounded interesting enough, so I gave it a try…and now I’m counting down the days until the sequel is released. Also, I feel like I have to mention the Expanse series, because it is a massive science-fiction series, that I think I picked up because of the Sword & Laser book club several years ago. It was more sci-fi than I had really read before, and the books are massive. And yes, it took me quite some time to read it, but I’m glad I did. It was sort of “Firefly”-esque on one hand and detective noir on the other, and it weirdly worked. I need to read it again now that I understand the world a bit better; I think I would like it even better the second time around. Then there’s Old Man’s War, and this book is honestly amazing, and I wouldn’t have picked it up if I hadn’t heard others talking about it…was it Wil Wheaton? Or some other of the awesome geek people I follow online? Anyway, on the recommendation of somebody I decided to give John Scalzi a try and I found an autographed mass market paperback of this in a small-town used book store…and I became obsessed with the book for a little while. The space exploration was cool, yes, but the set-up for the protagonists was cooler. And if I hadn’t taken the recommendations of other people, I might not have discovered this book that is now one of my favorites.

So I would like to keep trying to choose the occasional book from outside my normal reading comfort zone. For the most part it has worked out pretty well for me. I’m still not really a mystery/thriller/suspense fan. For those I still need it to have some sort of fantasy element or something…or be watching it. I love watching mysteries and horrors, but I don’t like reading them.

I’d like to give these a try sometime soon as well. I own The Library Book and will probably pick up the other two soon. But both of the first ones are a little bit non-fiction/historical and a little bit fictionalized, but the main thing is that they are about books, libraries, and librarians, and so the topic is one that interests me. With The Power, I’ve heard a lot about it, but it also seems a bit similar to The Philosopher’s Flight in that it flips the power dynamic of men and women, though I’m sure aside from that they are quite different stories.

What books outside your normal reading comfort zone have you tried? Has it led to you finding a new favorite? Let’s talk about new books to try in the comments, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

2 thoughts on “Discussion: Read Outside Your Comfort Zone”

    1. Awe, thank you so much! It just feels like I don’t go out of my comfort zone that much, because fantasy is such a broad genre, so I can find pretty much everything I like there. I’m hoping to read the second Thursday Next book soon; I picked it up at B&N a couple weeks ago.

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