Are you a genre junkie?
By Megan on May 21st, 2012
In a recent conversation with my mother, the books she has planned to read this summer came up. “I can’t wait to start Catherine the Great,” she said. “Then Lincoln’s Last Hours next, then probably Elizabeth, the Queen. Oh, and I just finished this fascinating book about Winston Churchill’s mother, did I tell you about that one?”
“Mom, mom, mom!” I cut her off. “You are really into the historical nonfiction these days, huh?”
“Well, I guess so…”
“You have got to snap out of it!” I said. “I think you need to invite a little comedy into your life, maybe some romance or travel adventure, or something…different! Isn’t it getting a little boring? Why not expand your reading horizons a little? I mean, Winston Churchill’s mother? Really?”
As I hung up the phone, feeling a little guilty but also like maybe I talked some sense into her, I scanned my own bookshelf for the books I have slated for this summer. Toni Morrison’s new novel, Home, Lauren Groff’s The Monsters of Templeton, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros… Oh no. What a hypocrite! All women’s fiction titles. I am totally a women’s fiction junkie. All these years, all these titles!
Then I started thinking about the other readers in my life. My brother, definitely a sports and adventure guy. My art student friend, comics and graphic novels. My grandmother, mystery and crimes. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that many of the people I know who love to read tend to stick with a certain genre. What gives? We are totally limiting ourselves if we keep going back to the same “type” of book! Think of all we’re missing! I propose an intervention. A call to explore new titles, new eras, new sections of the bookstore.
That said, here are my Five Steps to a Genre Junkie Intervention. (Mom, this is for you.)
1. Admit you have a problem. (This is always the first step.) Come to terms with the fact that you’ve been squirreling away books that remind you of that book you read and loved for too long.
2. Step away from the historical nonfiction section. It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and browse other sections of the bookstore. There are people whose job it is to help you do this. Ask your local bookseller!
3. Read a book your opposite would read. If you have a friend or colleague who is nothing like you, ask them what they’re currently reading or what their favorite book is. Then try on their reader persona and read it. You might surprise yourself and actually enjoy it.
4. Join a book club. And no, you can’t choose the book. And no, it can’t be a book club focused on titles within the genre you’re currently addicted to. You’ll be forced to try new titles and to talk about them.
5. Pass it on.
So what about you? Are you a genre junkie? if you are, do you think as readers we are naturally drawn to choose books that sync with our personalities? Or can a person’s love of a genre have to do with something entirely different?
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