I like to play it safe.
I am one of those readers that likes to play it safe when it comes to picking a book. I know what I like and I don’t like to stray too far away from the books I usually like and read. Which is why most of my reading is in the genres I know well and already love. But sometimes I do stray, and sometimes it really pays off!
So I thought that it’d be fun to share some books that were really out of my comfort zone that I ended up loving, so much so that some of them became my favorite reads ever! Let’s get into it!
1. salt. by Nayyirah Waheed
I struggle a lot with contemporary poetry, something I’ve talked about in previous posts HERE and HERE. I like the idea of the whole “tumblr” poetry movement (and I hate the term, I just have no better alternative right now) because a lot of it explores themes of womanhood and feminism and race and I think we need more of that. However, I always end up finding the collections meh and repetitive and like they are trying too hard.
This was not the case with salt. at all. I found it to be beautiful in its simplicity. I felt like the author really managed to convey a lot of emotion through really simple language and still make it really gorgeous and lyrical. I really found this collection to be angry and powerful and I really loved that, so I could not recommend it more.
2. A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard
I have a hard time with short story collections. I again, love the idea of them, but I never really end up loving collections as a whole. I always like some stories more than others and there are ones that flat out disappoint me, so I can never really fall in love with a collection.
However, that changed with A Cathedral of Myth and Bone. This was one of my favorite books of last year and I absolutely cannot recommend it enough. It’s a gorgeous collection that explores women’s agency and storytelling as a concept, while also diving into myths and the way humans are drawn to stories and legends. It’s absolutely breathtaking and there isn’t a single story in there that I did not like. Highly recommended and you can find my full review HERE.
3. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
There’s something about Sci-Fi that just doesn’t work for me, even though I genuinely love Sci-Fi movies and TV. But with books I always struggle, and any Sci-Fi I’ve picked up I usually either dislike or get bored pretty quickly and give up on it. It’s weird.
However, The Dispossessed is a book I fell completely in love with. It’s incredibly smart and sophisticated and borderline philosophical, which I loved to no end. Ursula K. Le Guin is really well loved in the Sci-Fi community and for good reason. I really enjoyed her writing and the way she discusses these big topics through a space story. My one grievance with it was that while it did use the story very well, the accent was on the political ideas, so the story did lack at times, but I for one did not mind it one bit. I would definitely suggest checking out her work.
4. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
This book is probably out of everyone’s comfort zone, since it is really unique and unlike anything other, but especially mine. Historical fiction is something that I never can get into, and out of any genre out there it’s probably my least fave and the one I have the hardest time getting into.
However, this book is just brilliant and stunning and just so different that I cannot help but applaud it. It’s a story about Abraham Lincoln’s late son, and his time in the bardo, which is a sort of limbo. The story has a myriad of characters, all given a voice of their own and it’s a really complex narrative, but one that ultimately pays off. It’s a story about family and life and loss, packaged into something completely new, so I highly recommend you check it out. My review can be found HERE.
5. Kill the Next One by Federico Axat
This is a psychological thriller, and those are always difficult for me, since I get SO FREAKED OUT and I cannot sleep when I read them, so while I do enjoy them, I tend to avoid thrillers in general because I am weak.
However, I got an ARC of this one ages ago, and I picked it up and I swear to you, I was gonna dnf this one and struggled with it for SO long. However, at about 35% into the book, everything flipped and I became OBSESSED. Axat is a terrific writer that can make ordinary situations incredibly uncomfortable and he managed to weave such an interesting story that in retrospect is just brilliant. If you are in the mood for a really bonkers, crazy psychological thriller, I would suggest checking this one out. It really surprised me a lot. You can find my full review HERE.
I’d love to hear from you – what books that were out of your comfort zone did you really enjoy? What genres do you avoid, but end up loving when you pick up something from them? Let me know in the comments!
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