sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

September 3, 2019

books i loved from outside my comfort zone
posted by soe 12:23 am

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl asks us to share books we loved that were outside our comfort zone:

  1. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez: I mostly don’t love multi-POV novels, so it was a huge surprise that this ended up being the best book I read in 2014.
  2. Maus 1: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman: This was the first graphic novel I ever read, back in college when Spiegelman was coming to speak. I don’t love WWII stories and I hadn’t read a book where pictures were equally important to the story in ages.
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Spoiler alert: I don’t love tragic novels. But this one was so well-crafted that I couldn’t help but be impressed when I read it in grad school.
  4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Sometimes I get swayed by all the positive reviews I see of a book, but when it isn’t for me, I quit reading. Again, WWII and multiple POVs, but in this case the short chapters and change in narrators gave me places to breathe and put the book down when things got too intense to keep reading.
  5. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid: More war. But the lyrical prose and the distance between the reader and the main characters combined with the magical realism of doors that transcend space made this a must-read story about refugees.
  6. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender: When I first reviewed this book, I stated quite plainly that while I could see its appeal, I didn’t like it because I don’t like books that end in a depressing way. But when it came time to round up the best books I read in 2010, I found that it had stuck with me in a visceral way that other books hadn’t.
  7. The entire Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith: I like mysteries and detective novels, but only when they aren’t especially dark and tense. However, I also don’t like them when they’re stupid and obvious, and there’s a narrow path to walk between those two things. The more literary novels tend toward thrillers and the less uncomfortable ones tend to give the story away in the first chapter. When I’m trying to give people examples of where the line is I point them to the Cormoran Strike novels, which fall at the very extreme end of how dark a novel I can get through.
  8. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: I’m pretty sure I just bawled through this entire novel, which is not how I like to enjoy my reading.
  9. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi: I do not like short stories, but these were so well-executed and mostly much less dreary than most collections.
  10. The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak: While waiting unsuccessfully in line for the last panel of the day at Book Fest on Saturday, I struck up a conversation with a young woman holding a copy of this novel. I shared that I’d been put off by Death as a narrator so much that it took me forever to read it. (I took it out of the library back when it came out and then racked up library fines for six months before returning it and a large donation to the library and buying my own copy. This underlines why I appreciate D.C.’s altering their fine system because this is not the only book where this has occurred.)

How about you? Have you loved certain books in spite of their not being your usual reading fare?

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