This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is particularly important because it helped me realize that I don’t delve outside of my comfort zone too often. Part of this is because, like the typical scorned woman, I’ve been burned too many times by books outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes, I’d just like to go with a book I know will be absolutely fantastic– or at least thought-provoking.
That said, here are a couple of books I’ve read recently that were outside of my comfort zone, but still managed to keep me engaged!
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer: I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Thematically, it’s not quite my speed. I’ve never been much for fairy tales, even as a little girl, but I thought Cinder was just creative enough for me to find enjoyable. Secretly, I really love Young Adult books, but I only read them in small binges.
Kill ‘Em and Leave, by James McBride: This in-depth biography of revolutionary musician James Brown was all the way outside the breadth of what I normally read. Not only was it a biography, which I normally avoid reading, but it was about a musician. McBride’s way of contextualizing Mr. Brown’s life within the scope of American– and African-American– history made this book much less of chore to read than it may have been otherwise. It also helps that James Brown himself was far from boring.
March: Book One, by Representative John Lewis, et al.: Alright, this one isn’t as much of a stretch. March is topical in a way the other books on this list are not. It’s timely and relevant as we get to the end of President Obama’s presidency, and as we consider the status of American politics as a whole. But to read this history as a graphic novel? As someone who may read one or two graphic novels a YEAR, March is a book that is completely out of my comfort zone.
I’m pretty disappointed, but that’s really the end of my list. A sorry list of three literary outliers I actually enjoyed, rather than regretted reading. Now, that’s not to say these three are the only books I read outside my comfort zone. I read Negroland, which was a bit of a bust for me (I’m sorry, y’all! I know everyone else liked it), Straight James/Gay James was unremarkable, and there’s another LGBTQ book of short stories I read last month that fell flat. I wanted to support it because it featured several gay and lesbian couples, but the characters were overwhelmingly one-dimensional and homogeneous. The repeated “stranger in a strange land” plot lines didn’t do it for me, so I just skipped reviewing it altogether.
Even though some of these didn’t work out, I’m still happy I am continuing to read books that push the envelope. Intellectually, it’s healthy to read things that you dislike, or disagree with, but sometimes, I really just want to read a book I know I’ll love. What have y’all read outside of your comfort zone lately?