Reading Outside Your Genre

sci-fi fantasy book blog

I tend to think I’m a fairly eclectic reader, but then I have have experiences with books like Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler that make me re-examine just how varied my tastes are. 

When I saw the novel’s cover and read the excerpt on the Tor website, my interest was totally piqued. Until about halfway through, Sea Change was exactly the type of fantasy I had been looking for; beautifully written, easily followed, not too “out there”. But then there were trolls. And as the bizarre creatures continued to mount, my excitement level totally fizzled. In another reader’s hands Sea Change would be a perfect story, I just can’t seem to suspend reality enough for trolls. 

I know what works for me; I like my straight laced, general fiction and non-fiction. However, some of my favorite books come from the fringes of fantasy and science fiction. Even though I resisted reading Harry Potter until I was almost 27, I eventually gave in and loved it. So, I do think testing the waters is important…I just wish there was a little more consistency in the “off genre” picks I end up liking. Does anyone have any suggestions based on these random favorites?

What are your favorite books that don’t quite fit into your usual genre? 

  • Wool!!!!!!!!! I looooove Wool! :D It’s an exciting dystopian read.

    LOL when I was reading Sea Change and the troll showed up, I actually made an annotation that said, “no! Please no, not a troll!” The entire middle of the book was a challenge for me to get through. Was it DNF for you (like, /totally/ fizzled?), or did you make it through?

  • I loved Wool, too! I have a feeling you would really like The Passage, if you haven’t read it already.

    I finished Sea Change, but it was definitely a skimmy, unhappy finish. It got better toward the end, but I was just ready to be done by that point and feeling guilty about the book in general. I hate reading a book that I know is good, but just not good for me.

  • I find that I am liking speculative fiction more and more each day.

  • One book that I grabbed on a total whim was The Night Circus. I absolutely fell in love with that book and it’s out of my comfort zone for sure.

  • I’ve been meaning to read that one, too!

  • Ooo, are there any you have to suggest?

  • I think you could totally enjoy The Night Circus and definitely some Atwood. OH! And Little Black Book of Short Stories by A.S. Byatt!

  • Anything by Haruki Murakami. I have a special fondness for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle because of the read-along we did or Kafka on the Shore. Wild stuff.

  • One of my favourites is by Lois McMaster Bujold: The Curse of Chalion. It’s firmly in the fantasy realm of things, but a lovely story of redemption. A more modern day speculative title that’s a bit more mainstream in a way and is just completely wonderful is Memory and Dream by Charles DeLint. He loves to play with reality and does it seamlessly.

    And an old title but quite good is The Time Traveler’s Wife.

  • (BTW, Chalion has no elves or trolls or dragons, etc. It’s more in line with Game of Thrones or Harry.)

  • I haven’t read The Passage, thanks!!

    I agree that the end was better. It had the same feel as the opening did, I think. But hey, now I REALLY know what I love about magical realism that I don’t about fantasy. hehe ;)

  • I know what you mean. In my case it is science fiction. I love watching scifi movies and I can read the occasional book from that genre, but sometimes there comes that mind-boggling, time-bending, space-conquering book which just doesn’t get through my head and that upsets me.

  • Thank you! I’m definitely going to take a peek at that.

  • I’ve been meaning to read A.S. Byatt for a long time, too!

  • Yes, exactly. Sci-fi is my mountain, I just don’t know if I’ll ever really get into it. I think the closest I’ve come is maybe Ender’s Game? Hah!

  • I definitely am going to do some reading outside of the genre that I love. Maybe with Harry Potter

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