Like many other people, I make all sorts of resolutions every time a new year rolls around. Usually they’re the same every year: Be happier. Eat healthier. Think positive, not negative. Stop procrastinating. Blog more. Yadda yadda yadda.
I won’t bore you to death about how I’m going to achieve all those because stuff like that will be a day-to-day process, and it’s all about mental training. And grocery shopping. Instead I’ll tell you about a resolution I’ve made regarding my reading habits. It’s not to read more, or to read less (who wants to read less???). It’s simply to READ DIFFERENT.
That’s right. In 2013 I plan to branch out and leave the comforts of my young adult paranormal/supernatural/fantasy/contemporary bubble and try out new genres. I know, crazy, right? But to truly call myself a reader, I believe I need to dabble in all sorts of different kinds of writing, not just the kind that involve teenage romances with angels and demons and magic.
I’ve talked before about how I can’t seem to get into the mystery genre. But I honestly think it’s because I just haven’t found the right books. I think I would really enjoy mystery novels – if the story and the writing grabbed my attention. It’ll just involve some research and trust in the reviews I read on Goodreads, which is where I get the majority of my recommendations. I’m just looking for something clever and intriguing with good characters that I can care about. That’s all.
Since I enjoyed the first two books of Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series, I may try to get back into the series since more books have been released since I last read one. They take place in London during the 1930s and star a feisty heroine that I enjoyed reading about, so I’m pretty confident in this series. Just give me some atmospheric weather outside (gloomy and nasty) and I should be good to go.
Another genre that I’m going to seriously try is the Romance Novel. Usually the first words that come to mind when I think of a romance novel is “cheesy” and “smutty”, but I know there are some really well-written romance novels out there, according to my romance-reading friends (though sometimes cheese and smut can be a good thing).
There are many “sub-genres” of romance novels, but the one I’m most interested in right now (I think) are the historical romance kind. And yes, that will most likely involve MANY books that take place in the Scottish Highlands, as it seems a lot of women like to read and write about hunky Scottish warriors. Which, you know, is totally cool. I like Scottish warriors.
I did a lot of research on what romance novels to read the other night and came across a few authors that a lot of people seem to highly recommend. One is Lisa Kleypas, whose books have gotten 4+ stars on Goodreads and rave reviews from most romance fans. It’s obvious that a lot of people want to read her books, as pretty much every book that’s available on the eLibrary website has a waiting list. Now I gotta see what the fuss is all about.
A good friend and fellow reader recommended a romance author to me, one who specialized in Regency romance writing back in the early twentieth century. Regency romances are set during the early 19th century (the British Regency) and derive from a genre called a novel of manners which is defined by Wikipedia as a genre that “deals with aspects of behavior, language, customs and values characteristic of a particular class of people in a specific historical context” (like Jane Austen). Also, the more traditional Regency romances “feature a great deal of intelligent, fast-paced dialog between the protagonists and very little explicit sex or discussion of sex” (again, Jane Austen).
Anyway, the author she recommended is Georgette Heyer, who is known as one of the best Regency romance writers. Most of her books are available on the eLibrary website, so it looks like I’m in luck. It’s just a matter of finding the right one to start with, and then keeping up with it. Fingers crossed.
Another genre of book that has always intrigued me but I’ve never gotten around to reading is the historical fiction novel. Books about queens and royal scandals always sound good, as do stories from history that may or may not have been inspired by actual events. I’m looking for something that’s in between a non-fiction book and a historical romance book. I’ve picked up a few historical fiction books at book sales – a couple of Philippa Gregory books, a book about Helen of Troy, books about various noblewomen – but they just sit on my bookshelf collecting dust. I think I keep passing them by because they’re big books with lots of pages and lots of words and long paragraphs. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I’m so used to the fast-paced, instant gratification world of young adult lit that it’s difficult to get into really lengthy and wordy books. But as long as I find a story that sounds really interesting and grabs me from the first chapter so I don’t give up and toss the book aside, I think I could really enjoy historical fiction. I just don’t want to feel like I’m reading a textbook. Again, feedback from Goodreads really helps, but it is helpful to have an open mind as well.
Branching out to other genres is going to take lots of patience and commitment and determination, but I know I have all that in me to make myself a more well-rounded reader. I’ll obviously still read my YA lit – there are MANY books scheduled to for release this year that I MUST read – but if I just read one or two books a month from a different genre, that’ll be a huge accomplishment.
How about you? What genre are you stuck in, and which ones do you hope to branch out to?