The Reading Box

monika-chatDo you think of yourself as a reader who reaches widely into many genres, or do you tend to stick to one thing? Are there genres you tend to avoid or just can’t bring yourself to read?

shannon-chatI try to give everything a fair shake, but I definitely have a box I’m comfortable in…and sometimes that box feels increasingly small. I’ve had awful luck trying to pick out books outside my literary fiction comfort zone and I think it has scared me off a bit.
april-chatI’m pretty open in my reading. But I tend to avoid Westerns and Romance. I tried A Rogue by Any Other Name when it came in one of the Book Riot Quarterly Boxes, but I got about halfway through and was so bored it was all I could do not to throw it across the room. Romance simply isn’t going to happen for me.
shannon-chatI still feel like maybe I haven’t given romance a good enough shot, but I could barely get through the first few pages of one of Sarah MacLean’s books and she comes highly, highly recommended.
catherine-chat2I’m going to risk public shaming by admitting that as a teenager I devoured Barbara Cartland novels which are some of the most soppy, romance novels there are. They are actually a sub-genre of romance that has fallen out of favor—virgin romance. Yup, the heroines didn’t give it up until they were married. I owned over 100 of her books (she wrote over 700). Once I grew up and realized relationships don’t work that way, I stopped reading romance and have never looked back.
april-chatNo judgment here!
monika-chatI wonder if this ties in with why we read, what we want to get out of our reading experience, and maybe also, who we are. I can’t read romance (as a genre). I don’t see the point. It doesn’t offer me an escape in any way, it’s too outside the gender-bending reality of my own relationship. There’s just no connection at all to keep my interest.
shannon-chatNow that I think about it a bit more, when I’m reaching outside my comfort zone, I tend to do better with books that are a little more difficult to fit in a specific genre. I’m thinking of titles like The Passage by Justin Cronin or The Humans by Matt Haig.
april-chatI’d disagree about The Passage, I’d say it fits fairly well into post-apocalyptic literature. It’s excellently written. I’m dying for the last book in that trilogy.
monika-chatYou know, as much as I intend to reach outside my comfort zone, I’m more like Shannon—I do better when the book doesn’t fit in a nice, neat category but rather, kind of crosses genre lines. I’m thinking specifically of books like Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler, which was very much fantasy (something I don’t do well with at all) yet maintained a literary fiction feel throughout. It was a stretch for me, for sure, but I ended up liking it.
april-chatI feel like a lot of times things that are “genre” get a bad name—like they can never be as well written or “important” as stuff classified as literary fiction. While it’s true that sometimes genre literature is merely dessert, I think that there are quite a few of genre novels that have shaped modern literature as we know it. Do we have to argue about Stephen King? (Because I will, respectfully, as always.)

Also consider that Station Eleven could be defined as genre fiction. It fits extremely well under the post-apocalyptic genre, but to dismiss it as such would do it a great disservice. Are we limiting ourselves by listening to other people’s categorization of books?
catherine-chat2I agree, and Station Eleven is a great example. At the same time, for a lot of readers saying “literary fiction” is off-putting because it comes across as snobbish and/or may mean something more difficult to read. While labeling can be useful, it can also be too restrictive. Oh, and no argument from me about Stephen King!
shannon-chatSometimes I feel like there’s pressure (probably internal) to be a “well-rounded” reader or someone willing to read almost anything. Do any of you feel that? I definitely want to give different genres a shot, but I think as long as we’re not unfairly brushing books off, there’s nothing wrong with reading to your taste.
catherine-chat2I don’t think I have, maybe because I’m too mouthy about what I like and don’t like. About the only genre (and not even sure it is a genre) I’ve not explored is graphic novels—no interest in looking at pictures while I read. And yet, as popular as they are now, I’m sure plenty of people would think that makes me narrow-minded. I know my reading covers a broad spectrum so I don’t worry about it.
monika-chatI’ve thought about that pressure a lot. My review policy lists plenty of genres I won’t accept for review, yet my tagline says “reading a little of everything.” But do I? Am I more close-minded than I like to think? After some thought I realized I just don’t want to receive pitches for those genres. I’ll take a personal recommendation from someone whose taste I trust. Recently I read and reviewed Christian YA fiction, which reminds me that I will give anything a try, even genres on my “do not enjoy” list.


How about you, dear readers? Are you up for anything when it comes to reading, or do you stick with what you know you’ll like? How far outside the reading box will you tread?