On Friday we talked about readers who consume exclusively Young-Adult literature. It’s a good thing to have a favourite genre; specialism is a fabulous thing and is precisely how we get really, really good at the things we love. However, if you’ve got yourself genre stuck and are wanting to experience something a bit different (but maybe aren’t sure where to start) here’s a few handy tips for changing your ways and finding future favourites you never knew existed.
I first started thinking about genre in my second year of University; I took a science fiction module because I didn’t fancy anything else that semester. I’d never really considered myself a fan of sci-fi so I pretty much wrote off books of that genre. I mean, I liked things like Doctor Who and Star Wars but I guess I just didn’t ever see myself loving them. Anyway, long story short, I was incredibly and thoroughly wrong about my own tastes; I just didn’t realise I was missing so much. After discovering some fabulous new literature I took a more indiscriminate approach to my reading choices and began to enjoy reading again (more than I had since my mid-teens). I’m hoping my experience will help you find something new to read for yourself, or at least prompt you to give it a go. In any case, I should probably stop babbling about myself and actually try to be helpful.
Set yourself challenges
Setting yourself challenges can be one of the best ways to motivate a change in your reading. It doesn’t have to be a big challenge either. Consider seeing if you can read a different genre of book for every 5th book you read. If you’re a speedy reader try one a month. The most important thing is that your goals are realistic to you. I’m a slow reader myself so I always set my targets within my reach.
Just be careful you don’t make it a chore. If you’re not enjoying the book by the time you’re half-way through ditch it – life’s too short to read bad books.
Take baby steps
Don’t go mad and make drastic changes that might ruin the whole endeavour. A good way to ease yourself between genres is to use whatshouldIreadnext, it’s probably one of my favourite bookish sites. When you finish a book, enter it onto the site to see what recommendations come up. Next, pick one from the bottom half of the list (one with a few things in common but not everything) – then lather, rinse, repeat. You’ll find that after a few books you’ll have come a long way from where you started – I went from a Fantasy to a oriental, historical novel based on the fall of the Chinese dynasty and preferred the latter.
Find characters like you
Sometimes, in order to give something new a fair chance, you’ve got to rely a little on the familiar . We’re always looking for characters we can relate to but often forget that they could exist in different realities to our own. If you’re into historical novels maybe try to find a character like you in one of those and one like you in a Science Fiction novel. It could be fun to compare and contrast the two and you might find you have a similar affinity for the second.
Friendships often form around what we have in common with other people, it therefore makes sense that ‘the things you have in common’ might extend to your reading experiences. Getting recommendations from friends is great because not only do they know what they like to read, they’ll also have an idea of what you like to read and can get you excited about a book you might not otherwise have considered reading. The #bookstagram feed and other social media facets can be great for finding recommendations too!
Don’t boycott your old genre
For one, it’s mean and also you’d miss it too much and blame the others. It’s also so, so important to remember that you’re not losing out by taking this journey; if anything, you’re multiplying your reading horizons. Keep reading the things you love, your favourites are favourites for a reason. Reading broadly Plus, wouldn’t it be amazing if you found that perfect crossover novel – a beautiful cacophony of historical accuracy and futuristic surrealism.
People always talk about why it’s important for children to read a variety of different types of books but why should that stop when we leave school and surpass the typical age of learning? I, for one, hope to continue learning throughout my life and reading widely is a great way to help with that. You might not love every new genre you try but each one will undoubtedly teach you something new even if it only serves to re-affirm the love you already had for your own favourite genre.
Happy reading! 🙂
– Cat –