Reading outside your comfort zone

    People have their own tastes and opinions, and everyone is valid in having those. However sometimes I wonder what people thought would happen when they read/watch/listen to something so wildly different from their own tastes.
     I read and watch a lot of reviews and talks about books. I try very hard to read widely and diversely, in that I’ve learned to be careful when venturing out of my comfort zone. Otherwise I suffer from what a sort of shock. It’s like paddling around in a swimming pool and then thinking “You know what sounds good? Diving full body into the ocean in this lovely 20 degree weather”. Hey, it can work for some people but the reactions amongst reviews are obvious when this happens.
      Always take baby steps! I can’t help but laugh when people who don’t read speculative fiction say things like “I tried to read Lord of the Rings in high school and Fantasy is just not for me.” Or, “I read Dune in middle grade and that taught me really quick to hate SF” (serious statements I have heard). There are some genres that are super hard to find a good entry into (Urban Fantasy, dear go don’t read a Laurel K Hamilton to try this one out) and yes SciFi can be hard too but I think taking things in baby steps makes all the difference.
       It’s unfortunate as well that a lot of times people won’t take things like this into account. They blindly stumble or dive into something then scream and flail loudly about it measuring up or being a horrible mess. It’s all about remembering your genre lines and tempering your expectations.

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     Examples of good entry points (IMO) for some of my favorite genres:
     For Fantasy if you like YA try The Daughter of Smoke and Bone or (obviously) Harry Potter. If you like Adult books I would try Dragonsinger since it’s short and a classic or Emperor’s Soul another short piece.
      For Science Fiction I would go with something like The Martian which, though it has some technical jargon is funny and approachable or The Paradox Trilogy, starting with Heaven’s Pawn another series of short books that are action packed, or Locked In for some good mystery mixed into your Scifi.
      For Urban Fantasy tread carefully. Paranormal Romance (what I would consider 98% of the Laurel K. Hamilton books) is a close, lives-in-the-same-apartment-friend of UF. Try Grave Matters, it’s light on the Vampires with almost 0 romance and a great cast. Or The Dresden Files or The Iron Druid series.

    Remember the baby steps! At the very least a disclaimer on something when you review it with ‘I don’t normally read this genre’ would help. Trying out new genres or types of books can be hard and jarring, but ultimately worth it!

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