Stepping Outside the Genre Box



Are you standing in the middle of a genre box, feeling that the book jackets covering the walls are too high to climb out?  Yes, we all find comfort in particular familiar adventures.  The scenes of murder, mystery, and suspense span from Margery Allingham to Patricia Cornwell and down the alphabet to Minette Walters.  By having a preference, the investment of time and dedication elevates our ability to categorically assess a long list of writers according to style, story, and characters.  You are, most likely, a proud die-hard “pro” during “Mystery Fiction” chat sessions!   But outside of the number-two most-read genre above, you can also find page-turners among science fiction, historical fiction, horror, or fantasy novels.  It’s time to consider embarking on new adventures!

Author suggestion: on the number-three list of most read genres are motivational publications!  For example, in the nonfiction category, author Malcolm Gladwell has published Outliers—The Story of Success and Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking.

Learn More About Your Genre!

Authors borrow from other genres.  It’s quite likely there’s a mystery that includes Steampunk, science fiction, and comedy (Brandon Sanderson’s Wax and Wayne trilogy, for instance.) Which aspect do you most prefer?  Why not leap in and start expanding your repertoire!

From TV to Book

You may have loved a particular television miniseries without knowing it derived from a series of books.  Try the English author and writer of historical fiction, Bernard Cornwell of the Last Kingdom series.

  • Netflix brought lawman Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming to television. The author, Craig Johnson, wrote a series of novels and novelettes that far exceed the program!
  • Edge-of-your-seat shows, such as American Gods and the fantasy movie Stardust are based on novels written by Neil Gaiman.
  • While you can still picture the characters from the Princess Bride movie, start reading the book, written by William Goldman.

Join a Book Club!

The complaint one hears from those not joining a book group isn’t necessarily about committing to a monthly schedule.  It’s often the worry in devoting time to an unknown topic.  Reading what may be a controversial topic will positively affect your view of the world.  Some themes may be heart-wrenching; yet, reading another’s life story can lead to a greater appreciation of diverse cultures, unknown places, and historical events.  Consider adding to your list books published by Arthur Golden, Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, or Lisa See.

Out of This World

Expanding your horizons may lead to travels outside of the universe.  You probably have friends who are proud of their “Trekker,” “Ringer,” and “Potterhead” geekdom. Despite the lengthy chronicles and series associated with describing a new world, you may want a similar experience with unfamiliar, yet exciting characters and landscapes. Therefore, consider the following fantasy books:

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
  • Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson
  • Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Promote a Love of Reading

Do you carry a book everywhere you go?  Are small stacks lying on multiple surfaces in different rooms of your home?  Whether we are alone or with a crowd, we love being a bookworm.  Indirectly, promoting an author or title also has an inspirational quality.  While friends can learn from one another in answering the question, “What can I read next?” another thought may trigger the idea, “Who am I influencing?”  Whether you are a grandmother, aunt, cousin, or family friend, your interest in books can open a door for a child.  It might begin with a gift.  Don’t stop!  Allow him or her to walk through lands outwitting antagonists and surviving the odds.  Don’t forget to introduce them to a variety of genres, such as nonfiction, the short story, poetry, and perhaps a book you loved long ago!

In this month of love and friendship, promise to read a novel with a friend.  Step outside your comfort zone, and enjoy the story!


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