Emma from emmmabooks created this tag and it seemed really fun so… Here we are! To begin, Emma says you have to create a rule for yourself that you’re going to eliminate a genre/category that you talk about the most to challenge yourself to reach for books outside of your usual. So, obviously, I have to eliminate romance novels because that’s essentially all I read and talk about. So let’s get started!
1. A book that is an exception when it comes to genres or elements in books that you don’t typically like.
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo is the perfect illustration of this because it is literary fiction (Strike One), has a messy or ambiguous ending (Strike Two), and involves married people having affairs (Strike Three). But I adored this book. It helps that I read it as part of Joce at SquibblesReads book club, but honestly, this book is just really beautifully written. Essentially, this book follows a couple who had a love match in Nigeria and are resisting the push for Akin to take a second wife. That’s difficult though because Yejide cannot get pregnant despite their best efforts so culturally she’s failing in her wifely duties so there’s a lot of pressure on her to make it happen. This book is wonderful and I adored listening to it on audio and would definitely recommend.
2. A book you enjoyed from a genre you previously held some stigma about.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge is a brilliant piece of non-fiction and the type of non-fiction that I thought had to be boring. I will admit that I have tried to read The New Jim Crow a few dozen times and can never make it very far because (a) I get mad, (b) when I’m not angry I’m reading statistics I already know or history I know, and so (c) I can get bored (this feels blasphemous), but Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race was revolutionary to me. I was reading about Black people in England and their history, which is not something I’m familiar with and it was challenging so many of my beliefs about what England must be like. Most of the things I read were new to me and apparently that’s helpful to me? I’m not sure honestly what made reading this book so much easier for me than some others I’ve tried to read on similar topics. Also, I have a review for this one as well!
3. A book you didn’t know was actually out of your comfort zone until you started reading it.
The Goldfinch was always going to be out of my comfort zone since it’s a literary fiction novel, but I didn’t quite realize how much. The problem is that I know, generally speaking, what all of the books I pick up are about. This one though, I really wasn’t sure. I’d just started hearing people kind of raving about it so I picked it up. It’s got thriller elements, kind of, and is such a long, long book. I don’t know. I really enjoyed it though! I think the problem is that describing it feels challenging? Like I can tell you that it’s about a boy who winds up in possession of a famous painting and it follows his life, but that doesn’t really encompass the twists and turns and wild ride that this book takes you on. I did enjoy it though. A lot. I gave it 5 stars.
4. Pick a friend or BookTuber that motivates you to pick up books you might not normally be interested in. What is one book out of your norm that they convinced you to give a try?
I feel like I can’t do this tag and not talk about Joce from SquibblesReads because she’s literally responsible for the majority of the literary fiction books I tried last year and even into this year. She’s having a super rough pregnancy so she hasn’t been making videos lately, but I think she still deserves this shout out! I already talked about Stay With Me, so now I’ll talk about my other favorite we read, What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera. This book is literary fiction and suspense and like… Y’all. Not my cup of tea at all, except this book is BRILLIANT. The writing is so beautiful and the sense of place was incredible and the characterization and the explanations and the way it handles trauma. Honestly, this book is brilliant. Just an A+ read from me.
5. A book that is out of your comfort zone that you would like to read.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is probably at the top of my list for books out of my comfort zone I really want to read. Monica from shemightbemonica just raved about this book and how incredible it was to get this sense of Korea that her mom would have experienced. Something about Monica’s passion for this book made me even more excited to pick it up, but because it’s literary, I just keep dragging my feet!
6. A book or genre so out of what you normally read that you’ll probably never give it a(nother) chance.
I mean, there are very few books that really turn me off a genre completely, but if we’re being honest An American Marriage by Tayari Jones has made me even more reluctant to pick up literary fiction than I have been in the past. Like… I never want to be so angry at a book as I was after I finished that. And Emily Giffin’s First Comes Love has me not wanting to pick up anything she writes ever again even though I have adored every other book by her I’ve read (which I think is all of them?). But I can’t think of a whole genre I would completely swear off forever.
I found this tag so fun and could actually think of numerous other answers for these questions, but that’s all for now! What’s your favorite book that took you by surprise because it was so out of your comfort zone? (Also, for the record, Nalini Singh’s paranormal romance are books that I would have RAVED about if I’d been allowed to talk about romance because they pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have fallen head over heels for them.)