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Leave Your Genre Behind

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

I was struck recently by an interaction with someone who was so unaccustomed to reading outside of their own genre, when they read a short story which involved “AI,” short for artificial intelligence, they ask “Who is AI, and how did they get in the room?”

I was so dumbstruck by this question I didn’t even know how to address it, until I realized they simply don’t read the genre. There must be shorthand to other genres I don’t often read which would seem just as foreign to me.

I picked up Bad Parts, and started reading. The horror genre and the subgenre of small-town horror, where the fate of the world isn’t at stake and everything felt like it was out of a rural Steven King novel’s setting was very different to me. I will admit it was the first time I had read horror in almost twenty years. I enjoyed it immensely and did find there were certain assumptions about cadence and style I found jarring.

Next, I picked up a book of short stories The Immersion Book of Steampunk, and felt completely lost for probably the first three tales. Jargon, and assumptions were very foreign to me. Thank goodness Google was handy to look up several genre specific words that I didn’t get from context.

Last I grabbed a grimdark fantasy Prince of Thorns. It had familiar elements but with notes and tones that were just different enough to clearly be its own thing. I will say it was refreshing in a way to be in a world where I was truly not guaranteed the good would prevail.

Why do I say all this? Exploration of new genre horizons can lead to a wealth of knowledge, words, and new ways of thinking. Explore your reading horizons. I challenge everyone to go out and get three books from a genre you haven’t read recently or haven’t ever read before. Or perhaps one from three genres each. You never know, you may find a new love. At the very least, you will feel the diversity.

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