So we all do it don’t we. You read a couple of Crime Fiction novels then you look back years later and realise that you have pretty much read NOTHING BUT Crime Fiction novels. That was me for a long time…if it wasnt Crime Fiction or Stephen King I didnt read it. Did not even give it a second glance. And you know what? There is actually absolutely nothing wrong with that. Reading should be for pleasure, always, with the exception of the sometime reading you have to do for work or school. If you are happy and fulfilled with your reading then heck, leave it alone! BUT I have discovered that there is a world of literature out there that can sometimes excite, inspire and consume you and its not going to be anywhere near your comfort zone. Getting yourself out of the mindset though, can be difficult. You may start a book in a different genre and struggle with it at first – after all, whilst there is a HUGE variety of crime fiction out there – it kind of all has its own voice. Its why you love it…its why its the first thing you pick up…and even within different styles there is always something there that reminds you why you love the genre. So how DO you re-train your brain to allow other stuff to rattle around in there with the stuff you have already. Firstly, a recommendation from a fellow reader whose tastes match yours in a lot of ways but is already doing this “out of the zone” thing, is a great place to start. Thats how it happened for me. My friend Gary, who is also a great lover of Crime Fiction and Stephen King told me one day about this set of books that he had been loving so much that he had taken two days holiday from work in order to finish them. They were the “Felix Castor” series by the amazing Mike Carey. Not my kind of thing at all. A freelance Excorcist? Come on now, really? I’m going to love a story about that? Well I did. Loved it. ADORED it. Read the lot in a week. And so began my relationship with that wonderful new genre – Urban Fantasy. The Matthew Swift series by Kate Griffin, the Jack Nightingale series by Stephen Leather and the wonderfully funny Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch soon followed and these days if I see the words “Urban Fantasy” anywhere I’m pretty much almost guaranteed to give that book a go. No, I don’t love all of them – do you ever? Even if you stick with your comfort zone you will find there are some you just don’t like. Thats ok. Go with the flow.
Another thing you can try is – fantastic looking covers. Go to your local bookshop and browse. Don’t look at the back of the book to see what its about…don’t look at the tagline if you can avoid it. Just look at the cover art and see if anything grabs your attention. You’ll know if you are just picking up a new Crime Fiction book – or whatever your comfort zone happens to be – so avoid those as well. Just let your heart lead your head. If you see one…BUY one. Just one. And don’t even look at anything that will tell you specifics on what it is about until you open it and start reading. You may hate it. BUT you may love it…and discover a whole new reading world just waiting to open up to you. One day I went to Waterstones and just did this. And funnily enough..I came home with “One Day” by David Nicholls. It was orange. It stood out. It spoke to me in that moment and I took it home and devoured it IN one day. That day it worked for me – I’ve done it again since and found some AWFUL books. No I won’t name them…I might name your favourite book in the world by accident and then where would we be? Try it though. Its like Christmas. There are a few other ways to go about this, but I’ve found that the two I have talked about expanded my reading horizon by quite a few miles. I now read the Urban Fantasy, and the Comedy and the love stories and the post apocalyptic fiction, Young Adult fiction….you name it I’ve probably tried it at least once. And its fun people – it really is a whole load of fun. Go have some now.