Thursday, 30 June 2011

QOTW: Do you read outside of your comfort zone?


This week's Tuesday Teaser featured Storm Front by Jim Butcher, a book that fits equally well into the fantasy and crime fiction genres. I'm two thirds of the way through and finding it a fast-paced enjoyable read. It takes an extraordinary writer to mix two genres, and Butcher has succeeded where I'm sure many others would fail. But am I itching to get the second book in the series? Not really.

Until recently I'd never read crime fiction because it didn't appeal to me; it all seemed too formulaic. Bad guy kills. Main character battles killer, police force, ex-wife, and inner demons, before solving the crime. I'm sure many of you will recommend books to challenge my views, and perhaps I've watched too many TV detectives shows?

I am not saying the crime genre is bad. It's just not for me. But the point here is that I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and learned something in the process -  I learnt what doesn't work for me. Next week I could read a bodice-ripper and find I don't like that either. Or I might find I love it. I might discover a new genre, full of thousands of books just waiting to be read. But how will I know unless I try?

How about you? Do you read outside of your comfort zone?

Have you read something from a genre you previously avoided and found it re-affirmed your reasons for avoiding it? Or did it open up a whole new fictional world you wished you'd discovered earlier?

31 comments:

  1. I agree we should all try to broaden our horizons but you should also be prepared to put some effort into it. The book you read is okay, but fairly ordinary, middle of the road and heavily derivative. It won't really tell you how you feel about the genre, as much as it will tell you how you feel about the author.

    If you want to stretch yourself I think you have to be prepared to push yourself a bit and try more than one writer.

    mood
    Moody Writing
    @mooderino

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  2. I've recently ventured into the world of chick lit and found I love it. (I'm a crime thriller type girl) I have also read a fantasy novel and loved that. It's about trying the books before saying you don't like them. As you say, it's about stepping outside of your comfort zone.

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  3. I'm always game. I gave the horror genre years ago but I recently read Dan Wells' I Am Not a Serial Killer series and loved it. Now, I think that's Dan's writing. I'm not feeling a pull to run out and start reading a bunch in that genre.

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  4. My reading is so eclectic - I'd say there are certain book titles I'd wish I'd not read rather than genres! But by then it's too late cos I've read the sodding book! So I may avoid future works of said author - but not permanently though! They get a second chance with me! Yay!

    Take care
    x

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  5. Yes, definitely. I generally read anything someone tells me is good. Mostly I stick to SF and fantasy, I suppose, but why limit yourself?

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  6. I'm not sure that I have a comfort zone, as such. I tend not to read much sci-fi (though I've done a few Ian M Banks and have been watching out for a copy of Feersum Enjin for a while now)and I'm not fond of slasher/horror. I'm not a huge romance fan (though one of my favourite books is a romance, but it's set against the political situation in China). Not sure. My bookshelves reveal that I have certain favourite authors - but I don't think they're all in one genre.

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  7. My comfort zone has changed many times over the years. It seems I go through spurts. Lately I'm reading a sampling of different genres because blogger friends write so many different things.
    Honestly?I'm loving the mix!

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  8. I avoided fantasy and supernatural stories for a long time, only to find that I love them. I'm very glad I went out of my comfort zone in that case. I had mostly read thrillers & mysteries, and still love those, but it's great to have a whole new genre to explore.

    I've never read Butcher and now I definitely want to read Storm Front, thanks for the recommendation!

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  9. I will read outside my comfort zone if the book has been reccomended, but if it dosen't appeal I can always put it on the shelf.

    Yvonne.

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  10. Not having been a big fan of crime (apart from P D James) I read a review of Elly Griffiths - a 'forensic archaologist' and very much enjoyed - excellent characterisation. What I enjoy has changed with me writing more - Rachel Cusk's 'Arlington Place, enjoyable the first time I now see as highly descriptive. But it is the case that I am becoming more able to critique and/or analyse I think.
    [if this appears as anonymous it is because I'm having to use IE rather than Firefox - all chaos there today it seems] Sandra Davies

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  11. I think I go more by author than genre when I choose a book to read. A good writer can draw me in to just about any topic. To date I have mostly avoided the paranormal romance stuff, but if someone recommended a really good writer I might venture in.

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  12. Definitely. I read a great author interview (can't remember author though, I think it was Gaiman) who said that it is important to read widely to draw from lots of genres and get fresh perspectives and ideas. Great post. I've been having more blogger problems that have only just resolved :O)

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  13. I guess I've always suffered from genre curiosity, so I tend to be willing to try anything once. I also find my enjoyment depends more on the quality of the writing than the genre. By quality, I mean a combination of how well it's written and how well I get on with the author's style.

    I also find that other genres can contribute inspiration to my scifi/fantasy stories in some unexpected ways.

    Having said that, I tend to stick with what I know rather too much, so there's plenty I have yet to discover.

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  14. I tend to stick to my comfort zone but if a story sounds intriguing to me, I'll definitely give it a try, regardless of the genre. And I like to try new authors, too. I would like to read more nonfiction, though, but just haven't gotten around to it.

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  15. i think i've read a bit of all. its the writing that makes or breaks a story for me, and i like action

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  16. Once in a while I find something really cool outside of my normal genres. Someone else's post this week reminded me of The Perfect Storm. That was a good book and certainly not my normal fare.

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  17. I have read quite a few genres, but tend to only prefer certain kinds. Horror, SF, and conventional romance typically are not for me. So I tend to stay in my comfort zone, b/c when I step outside, I find my opinions have not changed much about those genres.

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  18. Like others have said - I will read all kinds of things, in and out of my comfort zone, especially if they've been recommended. I am not a horror fan at all, but I will read some, just to experience gruesome things and to stay informed.

    MrB and I have had our eyes opened by reading each other's genre (sci-fi/ fantasy and romance)It doesn't hurt for a little bit of everything to appear in a story.

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  19. My bookshelves are so eclectic that I had a friend tell me school was over, I didn't have to read so much. I can't imagine any writer not learning as much as possible about the world to help them create the best book possible. Writing is homework, nonstop, to me.

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  20. While there are some genres I won't read, I tend to be pretty open about most.

    I learn about intimacy from romance novels, atmosphere from mystery novels, pacing from military novels, and world building from SF.

    I also read poetry for the beauty of language, and scripts to teach me focus on plot.

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  21. I make a point to read outside of my preferred genre (urban fantasy). I don't always like it, but I expand those horizons nonetheless!

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  22. Yep, I used to be strictly a fantasy/scifi reader. Now I read a whole range of books. It's great. I get so much from reading other genres.

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  23. Yes, I do read outside my comfort zone. Sometimes I find a new favorite author, and sometimes I wonder what all the fuss was about. LOL

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  24. Like you I recently read a cross genre by Dean Koontz - What the night knows... it has elements of horror which I love, but it also a crime / mystery style book - and I'm not really loving it. I'm going to finish it, but not rush out and read another similar one. I like to try new genres, but know pretty quickly if it doesn't do it for me. Good to know I'm not the only one:)

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  25. Yes,I tend to read outside my Comfort Zone. I write MG fantasy fiction, but I feel I read other genres more than MG fiction. For me its just a good story that sucks me in, irrespective of the genre.

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  26. Every once in a while I pick up a rec from a friend or relative that's way out of what I like. Usually i find it okay but sometimes I'm hooked. I like to stay open but I definitely have my prejudices.

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  27. Once in a while I will, but tend to lean toward my favs. How are you Ellie? I tried to play the game, not having a lot of luck. I did find out the time to go and where...so I'm planning another outing!

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  28. I have a comfort zone centred on SF but I also read other books outside this genre and enjoy many of them, often after a recommendation, but sometimes simply from reading the blurb. My problem is that my favourite authors will insist on writing more books all the time and I can only read so many books a week. So I will more often than not pick up one I know I will enjoy in preference to one that may be a waste of my precious reading time.

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  29. I've been reading a lot of Fantasy lately and really like it. I'm on my third Harry Potter book (is HP considered fantasy???). I'm learning much from Rowlings writings.

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  30. My favorite authors are Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Ben Elton. As a teen I read some Ray Bradbury, and I have always loved the American classics. My daughter is trying to get me to read the Twilight series, too much teen angst and the whole vampire thing turns me off... I think I'll stick to what I'm comfortable with.

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  31. Hi Ellie .. I'm going to be reading books by bloggers and they are definitely ones I wouldn't probably pick up .. but what a way to learn new areas of writing and also new writers ..

    Interesting times ahead .. cheers Hilary

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