the Little Red Reviewer

vacation meme #3: outside your comfort zone

Posted on: July 24, 2011

comfort schmumfort, I think I’ll schedule a massage for today! or at least more time in the jacuzzi. As much as I love being on vacation,  I think it’s time to head home one of these days.

hope you enjoyed this quick series of prescheduled vacation posts, here’s your last one:

in the last year or so, what did you read that was outside your comfort zone, or at least outside your usual genres? was it a good experience? Will you read that type of book again?

hmmm,  i’m gonna give a two fold answer, because one of a positive experience, and one was a not-so-positive experience.

first, the good.  From more than a handful of friends I’d been hearing good things about some chick named Sloane Crosley. Apparently she makes a (sort of) living writing essays, about her every day life. Silly and odd things that happen to her, her strange habits, her strange friends, her friend’s strange habits. Really? an entire book of this? This is why the library exists, so I can rent this kind of thing instead of paying for it. Sloane Crosley’s I was Told There’d be Cake is a book I should have bought instead of just getting from the library. Maybe I didn’t laugh out loud on every single page, but I sure did laugh a lot.  Will I read more Sloane Crosley? hell yeah! will I read more books of essays? more than likely.

ahh, now the not as good.  YA is such a huge craze lately. most YA doesn’t do much for me.  and Vampires, the other huge craze, and lets just say I like my vampires the same way I like my coffee: dark and NOT sparkling.  Somehow I ended up reading a YA vampire steampunk romance, um, thing.  And what did I learn from this experience? that YA vampire paranormal romance is so not my thing and it’s just best that I leave it alone.

another random bookshelf photo.  last one, at least for this week.  ;)

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5 Responses to "vacation meme #3: outside your comfort zone"

I remember when I never read YA. I still hardly ever buy it… But, I was separated from my books and joined the library. The library is not big on the genres that I read, but it does have lots of YA books. Next thing I knew, I was reading a lot of them! I am trying to get back on track this year and read things I used to read all the time…

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Sloane Crosley is terrific. Her newest book, How Did You Get This Number?, was also very entertaining.

I know people, especially through the internet, who go far out of their way to ‘read outside their comfort zone’. Some do it just as a personal challenge, others do it because they seem to think you aren’t a worthwhile reader if you don’t. I do not hold to that idea. I cannot really think of a time when I have purposefully picked up a book simply because it was something outside of the norm of what I read. I pick up books to read because they sound interesting, either because the cover has caught my eye or the back cover copy makes it sound interesting or someone online recommends it.

By and large my reading is SFF. Over the years I have expanded what I’ve read, so books that might count for this question would be books filled with personal essays, something I’ve quickly grown to love. This started out with Anne Fadiman’s two excellent collections: Ex Libris, and At Small At Large. Crosely is another I recommend, as is C.W. Gusewelle.

Bill Bryson writes incredible non-fiction books. At Home is my favorite thus far.

I don’t read bios much, but Roald Dahl’s book Going Solo is fascinating from beginning to end.

As I do whenever someone says they don’t like a genre, I would maintain that you just haven’t read the right YA fiction if you don’t like the genre. Mixed within all the vampires and boy wizards are some incredible, emotionally satisfying books with wonderful stories. Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker comes to mind, as does Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Rebecca Stead’s novel When You Reach Me has some SFnal elements and is also good. Books for younger (than teen) readers that are really good are Kate DiCamillo’s novels The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and The Magician’s Elephant. Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs has some great creepy elements as well as some SFnal trappings.

I consider Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce novels as YA even though they are shelved in the adult mystery section because the protagonist is a somewhat precocious 11 year old girl. They are a delight. Shaun Tan’s Tales from Outer Suburbia is also a stand out.

Okay, I’ll stop trying to sell you on YA! :)

Other books that are outside my norm but not necessarily outside my comfort zone are the books by Haruki Murakami that I have read and enjoyed: After Dark, After the Quake, Blind Woman Sleeping Willow, and Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I never thought I’d ever read literature translated from Japanese. So glad it happened though.

Perhaps farthest out of my norm, at least for those who frequent my site and see a lot of SFF reviews, would be the fact that I like to read books like Jane Austen’s works, or L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series.

I better stop now. You’ll regret leaving these meme questions that cause me to prattle on so.

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hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on YA? I adored Doctorow’s Little Brother and Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, and they are both straight up YA. and I suppose GRRM’s The Skin Trade could be considered PNR. . . it’s got vampires, and werewolves, and flirting, and lots of violence.

I read travelogues, contemporary fiction and biographies on and off, but I always enjoy them so I wouldn’t consider them outside my comfort zone, more like something I wish I made more time for.

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (review on my own blog). I also read my first Jane Austen just before Christmas.

I second the YA sparkly vampires. Every time I hear the name ‘Edward Cullen’ it makes me want to watch ’30 Days of Night’

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i’ve got an Austen around here someplace. .. i should really give it a try one of these days.

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