Outside the Zone: 8 Bloggers Share The Reads They Love From Outside Their Comfort Zone – A Bookworms Carnival

Image - Bookworms Carnival

Image - Bookworms CarnivalI think that most of us have a comfort zone.  That certain type of book which we gravitate to over and over again.  Whether it delivers a certain emotion, writing style, a particular mood or feeling, is a particular genre or is set in a certain time period, we know what we like.  Since I started hosting “That’s How I Blog!“, I spend quite a bit of time every months reading books that I might not necessarily read, and I often feel compelled to ask my guests what books they have discovered which they wouldn’t necessarily read or place in their comfort zone, but which nevertheless, they have enjoyed.

Con Martin finds that even though women fall into the stereotypical role of either madonna or whore, she still can’t get enough of W.E.B. Griffin.  Check out her story of how she came to be so taken with this work that would normally be outside her comfort zone.

Years ago when I was working at Putnam Berkley I was heading home and needed something to read on the subway.  I looked around (how I miss those days when I was surrounded by mostly-appealing books) and grabbed a book by a popular author I had never read, W.E.B. Griffin.  I took enough time to make sure it was the first in the series, Semper Fi, a series about the Marine Corps.  I was sort of laughing at myself as I tossed it in my bag.   Well, the joke was on me!  I practically missed my stop because I was so engrossed in the story and I stayed up until 3 am and still hadn’t finished the book.   It is hard to explain why Griffin’s books have continued to captivate me since that day, except that he is a magnificent story teller and juggles multiple story lines so skillfully it is rare that one gets irritated and wants to return to one particular character.  On the con side, his characters are violent, amoral, misogynistic, often conceited, and the books glorify war (well, except those that are police procedurals).  It is always infuriating that the women characters (invariably just two types, Madonna or whore) fall into their arms (beds) without hesitation, and rarely serve any purpose other than sex (wish fulfillment to the male reader, I suppose).   Still, I am hooked and even the realization that Griffin’s son seems to be writing the books these days is not enough to cure me although my love of Griffin greatly amuses those who know both his work and me.

Angie over at Angieville is not usually not a fan of horror but she took her husband’s word for it and decided to read It, by Stephen King.  I just have to say that’s very brave of her.  I dip into horror every now and then, but I don’t know if I will ever be uo for that one. Angie says that she ended up loving it… a lot!

It’s difficult for me to tell you how much I enjoyed this book. I was hoping I would like it, but, like a blind date, I was a little nervous. Merely crossing my fingers for a good time, you know? Out of nowhere, I fell in love. I mean these kids are So Cool. Work their way into your heart and break it sort of cool.

Read the rest of Angie’s review of IT, at Angieville

Over at Age 30+ …A Lifetime of Books, Heather got roped into read Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood for her books club. Though Heather had been concerned about the potential graphic nature of the book and how they might handle the murder, she said:

I loved the period detail included in the book: the current state of medical thought including the emerging field of psychoanalysis, the state of the prison system, political unrest in Canada (about which I was completely ignorant), the daily functioning of a household and it’s servants, and so on. There was just so much here!

Read the rest of Heather’s review of Alias Grace at Age 30+…A Lifetime of Books

Kathy from BermudaOnion normally doesn’t do Romance, but there was something about How to Knit A Love Song that jshe appreciated in spite of not wholly loving it.

I could see where How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron was going right from the start.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, because I did – I just didn’t love it.  The narrative flowed well and kept my attention, but I found the characters frustrating at times.

Read Kathy’s review of How To Knit A Love Song at BermudaOnion

The Help, by Katherine Stockett has been all over the place.  Not only has it been a blockbuster bestseller, but more bloggers than you can shake a stick at have raves about this hefty Southern fiction novel.  Rebecca over at Rebecca Reads just wasn’t buying it, and it took her book club choosing this for one of its selections to get her on board.

Maybe because I went in to it with low expectations, though, I found it a satisfying, engaging read well worth the hype.

Read Rebecca’s review of The Help at Rebecca Reads

Lexie at Poisoned Rationality readily admits that she doesn’t read a lot of straight fiction, by which she means fiction books that have a romantic storyline but are not considered Romance, but still she enjoyed The Girl She Used To Be, by David Cristofano, and is now looking forward to more in this genre.

When I first began reading The Girl She Used To Be I got a weird sense of dejavu. Never been in the Witness Protection Program (and god willing I never will be), but the restlessness, the need for something different, new, extraordinary to happen in my life I understood well. The need to be an active participant in my life and not just a piece to be moved in some game I’ll never understand.

Read Lexie’s review The Girl She Used To Be at Poisoned Rationality

Only the strongest endorsement from a co-worker could persuade Swapna from S. Krishna’s Books to read Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.  This books was definitely outside her comfort zone.  Swapna says:

What really struck me about this book was how Perkins-Valdez tackles such a terrible topic as slavery, yet the book isn’t heavy or difficult to read.  She writes about horrible things, but gives her characters dignity and grace such that this is a hopeful book full of vitality.  It’s an amazing accomplishment, and is one that I hope you will experience for yourself.

Read Swapna’s review at S. Krishna’s Books

Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog knew from the beginning that she might be outside the zone when she started reading Just don’t fall, by Josh Sundquist.  Let me tell you, she loved it!

By all rights, I should not have liked this book. It’s an inspirational cancer-survivor memoir by a guy who reads self-help books (and quotes Tony Robbins in a totally not ironic way) and makes appearances as a motivational speaker. Not exactly the sort of thing I’m usually drawn to.

Read Rebecca’s review of Just Don’t Fall at The Book Lady’s Blog

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Blogger Unplugged! December 23,  2009   Jan 2, 2010

So let a word from the wise be sufficient (Did adults in your life say this to you as a kid?   My fifth grade teacher did. ALL the time!), don’t be so sure that you won’t just love that book that you normally wouldn’t  ever bother to read.  Got a minute? Share that book have you loved that is normally outside your comfort zone.

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  1. I'm not a big reader of non-fiction. Never have been, never will be. I am always surprised though when I really connect with a non-fiction book. Most of the ones that I pick up are book club reads and, since I'm the moderator, I kind of feel I should read them. My most recent surprise was Isabel Allende's book, PAULA, which my group recently discussed. I shared my thoughts about that meeting a couple of days ago on my blog. Not only did I like PAULA, but I'm also intrigued by Allende's other works, which I had also avoided because I thought I would like them. I'll try one now just to see.
    My recent post I'm wondering, do you review every book you read?

  2. I agree – very fun carnival! I probably should have sent in my vampire book reviews. But vampires are still outside my comfort zone, all except for the Sookie Stackhouse books, so you can see my dilemma! :–)

  3. I love the topic, and is something we all should stick in our back pocket and remember often. I am guilty of sneering at books that appear to be bodice-rippers. I also sneer at romances, and yawn at historical fiction. I need to be pushed. My stretching resolution this year was graphic novels. Never read one in my life. But I will. And I'm sure I will be enlightened! Great post!
    My recent post Sunday Salon: More Connie May!

  4. What a great idea, and what a fun post to read! I'll be thinking about this a lot because I do tend to get stuck in a (comfortable) rut.

  5. This is what I love about the whole book blogosphere! I think we all stretch out of our comfort zones because we are exposed to each other's reading habits and genres that might not be our own. Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot recommend a graphic novel to me called I Kill Giants. I was never a graphic novel person but I loved this book. It literally brought me to tears and had I not expanded my horizons and been willing to read it I would have missed out! Thanks for bringing this issue forward. Hopefully others will be brave enough to read something that might not match their regular fare!

  6. It's been a long time since I've read something I didn't think I would like, and ended up loving it. So long I can't figure it out going back into my archives. However, I do read outside my comfort zone quite a bit and have found some enjoyable stories that I wouldn't have read without explicitly going outside the zone.

    But I'm not going to reveal them here. I'm gonna save them for my appearance on the show tomorrow. 🙂
    My recent post The Myth of the Rational Market / Justin Fox

  7. Nicole, This is such a great theme. Thanks so much for including my review among all these others.

    I love the way you set this up (with the "read more" link). I'd love to use a similar idea for the Carnival I'm trying to get up. Could you let me know if that's ok? I don't want to be "copying." You just did this carnival, afterall!
    My recent post Poetry Speaks to Children

    1. Yes, please. Go right ahead! I didn’t have that many entries, which is why I chose to go the route that I did. Looking forward to visiting yours.

  8. Nicole, This is such a great theme. Thanks so much for including my review among all these others.

    I love the way you set this up (with the "read more" link). I'd love to use a similar idea for the Carnival I'm trying to get up. Could you let me know if that's ok? I don't want to be "copying." You just did this carnival, afterall!
    My recent post Poetry Speaks to Children

  9. I’m not a big fan of series to begin with, but The Luxe wasn’t really my thing. The dresses on the cover? Sure, they’re gorgeous, but I expected vain selfish girls with nothing better to do then have secret illicit sex. Basically a heaving bosom novel for YAs. I honestly don’t remember what got me picking up the first book, but I was shocked and delighted to discover that Anna Godbersen can WRITE, and does a fabulous job. Is it a deep thought-provoking novel? No and no. But it was an enjoyable plot, and believable premise, a handful of interesting characters…and I found myself reading the entire series.

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