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Read Outside The Box (Feb 28, 2023)

I like to read science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, steam punk and grimdark. These genres comprise the bulk of my reading. They account for probably fifty to sixty percent of the content I consume, and when I read in this genre, I feel comfortable there. I know the tropes, when they are broken, when they are not, when they are done well, and when they challenge the paradigm. Reading in these genres are like coming home for me, and ache of nostalgia, from the first time my brother pressed Dragons of Autumn Twilight into my hand when I was a boy, setting me off on this road. These stories ring true to me, and smack of something archaic and primal in the mythologies of humankind.

But, like any healthy plate of dinner, if it’s all one thing, odds are good, you aren’t getting enough variety in your diet, and even the same perfect ice cream may get boring without a new flavor.

I would like to challenge readers and writers alike, to read outside your comfort zone. You may not like the book you chose. You may not even like the genre, or… you might! The remaining forty percent of what I read, is not my comfort zone. I read authors I know I will disagree with. I sprinkle nonfiction in equal parts into the pieces, because unfortunately we can’t experience everything in life and nonfiction can teach us new skills, and find us hobbies we didn’t know we were missing.

Dabbling in horror and suspense gave me an appreciation for what makes a story tense. Explorations into well written romance helped me to better understand how characters can develop interpersonal relationships. Reviews of folklore and taught me how wild the imagination can be, and that we should sometimes look to leave standard tropes behind.

Ask friends, check top ten reading lists for each genre, or best, go to a local bookstore. I use Amazon too, but the beauty of a local bookstore, is that you are experiencing a filtered view by the owners and operators of the store of what books are worth reading. They can take you in new direction you may not have thought of on your own. Find online literary magazines in a genre you like, to discover new authors, or find an entirely new genre in bite sized pieces! But, no matter what you do, leave your comfort zone. You will be glad you did, and coming home will be all the more rewarding for having done so.

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