Broaden Your Literary Horizons

I read a bit of everything. I am not overly fond of non-fiction, but I will pick up the occasional memoir, biography, historical or self-help book. I also dabble in science fiction and fantasy from time to time, but neither is my favorite genre, or category, of books. My husband on the other hand, only reads from a very limited selection. If it has anything to do with airplanes or the military, he is there. I think he finally got tired of all the non-fiction military history I checked out for him. My brother got him hooked on the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher. I used them as a jumping off place to expand into other fantasy writers, which has been successful. I can also slide in the occasional mystery.

For those of you who are not married to a library employee, I wanted to offer some tips to help you to read outside your comfort zone and explore the wide world of books.

Join a Book Club – I have discovered some of my favorite books through my book clubs (I belong to two personal book clubs and lead two book clubs at the Florence branch – Mondays 4 Mystery and Best of the Best.) The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik are the top two books I found this way. One of my book clubs is named Happy Housewives Drinking Wine in honor of the second book.

Try a Book In a Different Style By a Favorite Author – J.K. Rowling is, of course, best known for the Harry Potter series. The detective series she writes under Robert Galbraith is excellent and there is not a single wizard in evidence. Another example is Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels. As Peters, she writes the Amelia Peabody Egyptology mysteries. Her books written under Michaels contain gothic and supernatural themes. J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts writes crime thrillers and romance respectively.

Try a Sub-Genre of a New Genre – If you like history, try a historical fiction fantasy. Replace your modern action/adventure novel with a western. If you tend to read about love, look for a historical romance.

Time Travel With Your Favorite Genre – For romance, try Jane Austen, adventure – H.G. Wells, horror – Robert Louis Stephenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Read Your Favorite Author’s Favorite Books – George R.R. Martin loved The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien when he read it in junior high, however, he also liked Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Gillian Flynn’s picks include And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer. Erik Larson loves The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

Browse the Library Stacks – The funniest book I have ever read was Forrest Gump by Winston Groom. I just stumbled across it one day many years ago when I was wondering through the Lents Branch.

Ask Someone to Pick a Book For You – Last Christmas my then 19-year-old son asked his uncle to buy him a book he thought he should read. My brother chose Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, a book on the Battle of Thermopylae and one of the best books he has ever read.

Try a Reading Challenge – You can find all kinds of lists on the Internet that include instructions like read a biography, a classic, a young adult book, a humorous book, a book based on a true story and a self-improvement book. Pick and choose as you see fit.

Read a Banned Book – The list includes: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, Sophie’s Choice by William Styron and The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, just to name a few.

Request Recommendations From an Older/Younger Relative

Ask a Friend/Significant Other What Book They Would Be Surprised to See You Reading

Try an Audiobook – I used to think I didn’t like audiobooks. Then a tried a few on trips and really enjoyed being entertained as I drove. If you don’t want to commit to reading a different kind of hard copy book, just pop in the audiobook as you drive, walk the dog or exercise.

No matter what you choose to read, remember, life is too short to read a bad book. If it doesn’t grab you, move on and find the next challenge. Happy reading!

A Circulation Assistant at the Florence Branch, Suzanne Yowler started her career in journalism and public relations. She established her free-lance writing business after her first son was born 20 years ago. An avid reader, Suzanne is always on the lookout for a good book.