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.

7 Hidden Gems from the Library’s eBook Collection

Anyone who is already using Kentucky Libraries Unbound – the collection of eBooks, digital audiobooks, and streaming video that is shared by over 100 libraries across Kentucky – knows that as new items are added throughout the week, they are checked out with lightning speed. New and returning users alike may be interested in these hidden gems that you may have missed from our growing collection of over 50,000 digital items:

1. Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard Farming and Home Skills for Self-Sufficient Living by Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskins

“The easy-to-follow advice in this book will show you everything you need to know to enjoy an abundant, independent life on food and products grown in your own back yard. You may feel like you have superpowers the first time you prepare a meal using only ingredients you grew in your garden. And is there anything you can’t do after you lather up with a bar of soap that you made in your own home? This book is full of recipes and tips that will help you discover the joy of self-sufficiency. Don’t worry; suburban gardening doesn’t mean you have to rip up your yard, or risk being ostracized by neighbors or your municipality or homeowners association.”

Homesteading; Do-It-Yourself; Home Design & Décor; Nonfiction

2. Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

“In this Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower tale, narrator Anika Dragomir

is the third most popular girl at Pound High School. But inside, she knows she’s a freak; she can’t stop thinking about former loner Logan McDonough, who showed up on the first day of tenth grade hotter, bolder, and more mysterious than ever. Logan is fascinating, troubled and off-limits. The Pound High queen bee will make Anika’s life hell if she’s seen with him. So Anika must choose–ignore her feelings and keep her social status? Or follow her heart and risk becoming a pariah. Which will she pick? And what will she think of her choice when an unimaginable tragedy strikes, changing her forever?”

Young Adult Fiction; Romance; Contemporary; Coming of Age

3. Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi

“Sis Goose is a beloved member of Luli’s family, despite the fact that she was born a slave. But the family is harboring a terrible secret. And when Union soldiers arrive on their Texas
plantation to announce that slaves have been declared free for nearly two years, Sis Goose is horrified to learn that the people she called family have lied to her for so long. She runs away—but her newly found freedom has tragic consequences.”

Military History; Civil War; Historical Fiction; Young Adult Fiction

4. Cloudy Jewel by Grace Livingston Hill

“A spinster by the standards of her era, Julia Cloud has agreed to spend the rest of her cloudydays engaged in domestic servitude in the household of her sister. Resigned to a lifetime of loneliness, she’s all the more surprised when an unlikely attraction begins to blossom. Cloudy Jewel is a treat for fans of uplifting historical romance.”

“Grace Livingston Hill is the beloved author of more than 100 books. Read and enjoyed by millions, her wholesome stories contain adventure, romance, and the heartwarming triumphs of people faced with the problems of life and love.”

Classic Literature; Romance; Historical Fiction

5. Burnt Tongues: An Anthology of Transgressive Stories edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer

“Transgressive fiction authors write stories some are afraid to tell. Stories with taboo subjects, unique voices, shocking images—nothing safe or dry. Burnt Tongues is a collection of transgressive stories selected by a rigorous nomination and vetting process and hand-selected by Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, as the best of The Cult workshop. These stories run the gamut from horrific and fantastic to humorous and touching, but each leaves a lasting impression.
Some may say even a scar.”

Short Stories; Horror; Anthologies

6. The Healer’s Touch by Lori Copeland

“Lyric Bolton doesn’t ask for much—just friendship and acceptance from her rural HealerMissouri community. But her family is regarded with suspicion and fear because of her mother’s sickness—a sickness of the mind that grows worse by the day. Lyric is resigned to a life of isolation and doesn’t see any way out…but that’s before Ian Cawley bolts into her life on a runaway stallion.

As she opens her heart to Ian, Lyric dares to imagine a different life. But what will happen when he discovers the secret she holds closest of all?”

Romance; Historical Fiction; Christian Fiction; Inspirational Romance

7. This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

journal“If only getting a new life were as easy as getting a new notebook. But it’s not. It’s the first day of school for all the kids in the neighborhood. But not for me. I’m homeschooled. That means nothing new. No new book bag, no new clothes, and no friends – old or new. The best I’ve got is this notebook. I’m supposed to use it for my writing assignments, but my dad never checks. Here’s what I’m really going to use it for:
Ratchet’s Top Secret Plan
Project Goal: turn my old, recycled, freakish, friendless, motherless life into something shiny and new.”

Juvenile Fiction; Middle Grade; Childrens

–Emily

Emily Kean is the Digital Services Librarian at Boone County Public Library and the consortium administrator for Kentucky Libraries Unbound. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky School of Information Science and has managed electronic resources in special and public libraries for over ten years.