This week is a weird prompt for me! In the past two years, ‘comfort zones’ haven’t really been a thing I’m conscious of. I’ve never really felt any fear of reading something I’m unfamiliar with, whether that be format, genre, etc. wise, just because I don’t like the thought of ever feeling as if I’ve limited myself by being scared of what I want to read.
This list is going to be more about new ‘kinds’ of books I’ve been reading that stick out from my usual reading.
1-3: ADULT NON-FICTION!
Yeah! Non-fiction is very new to me. I mostly read celebrity memoirs–predominantly social media stars, actresses and UK personalities–and essay collections, so these were kind of new to me. The Diary of a Bookseller is a diary written by Shaun Bythell over the space of a year concerning what went on in his bookstore in Scotland.
My Life with Bob is about Pamela Paul’s ‘book of books’, where she has logged all of the books she’s read since she was in College. She reflects on the books and what she was going through at the time of certain entries, and I really want to keep my own Bob now!
And then I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a deep dive Michelle McNamara, a leading true crime journalist who unfortunately died before she could finish the book, did into the Golden State Killer that ultimately aided in a resurgence of interest in the case that resulted in the killer being caught in recent years. It’s got a lot of difficult material, but it’s very honest and gives a voice to all of the victims and their families, and also offers looks into McNamara’s own life and upbringing.
4: PHILOSOPHICAL/SHORT FICTION
The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the first bits of philosophical fiction I’ve ever read.
My reading of this was actually spurred on by the BTS Spring Day music video, which I’m very grateful for, as this is a definitive text that I found fascinating and wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for the usage of it in the music video. It’s also rare for me to read individual bits of short fiction, something I’m definitely going to read more of and plan to pick up more short story collections in the future!
5-7: ADULT ROMANCE!
Adult romance! I actually read a shit ton of adult erotica when I was way too young to actually be doing so, although none of it was actually good. That may sound harsh, but you don’t have the same memories I do of the non-consensual touching and weird underage trope prominent in those historical romances.
However, I’ve recently started reading more adult romance that is actually halfway decent! It’s a genre I never really got into while I was reading YA romance, but I’ve felt myself growing out of YA romance a lot more recently.
The Hating Game is very meh, honestly, but I figured I would include it because it’s not terrible, just has some dodgy romance stuff.
Mariana Zapata is probably my second favourite of the specifically adult romance niche. My Uni friend recommended her to me and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far. Kulti has my favourite romance but is one of my lowest rated of her books just based on slurs used in the book. Romance isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly re-introduced me to a new world.
Ah, and then there’s Tessa Dare, my favourite. The women in her novels are always independent and have a strength to them that’s so foreign to the historical romances I always read growing up, and her romances are so sweet. Any problematic elements of the men are always addressed by the women, and they’re never pushed around or made to feel as if they are a possession with no choice but to go along with what the men say. That’s actually a reason I disliked The Hating Game, although it didn’t turn me off of reading more adult romances!
8-10: BODY HORROR
Before 2019, I never, ever would have considered myself a fan of body horror. I always enjoyed ‘artistic’ gore, if that makes sense: like in the movie Dredd, or the Hannibal TV show, which I love. Less Saw and Hostel, because I am of the belief that sometimes those films can border on gratuitous, especially in later films in the series (Saw 3D, here’s looking at you, kid). 2019 has been a year where I’ve grown a lot more accustomed to graphic things, although I never really cringed away from it in things I read years ago (to anyone I sent Guts to when we were 15/16, sorrynotsorry).
However, I’ve become a massive fan of graphic body horror descriptions, especially in the comics I read. It’s sort of a weird fascination with people’s limits and the ways writers and artists will push boundaries, something I’ve noticed prompts a lot of people– especially on Goodreads– to rate the content lower.
The Unsound is mostly about psychological trauma and a horrifying fantasy world hidden in an Asylum. There are scenes of graphic violence, including self harm and drug abuse, and the unnerving, sketchy art style only makes it even more uncomfortable to read.
Of the two, however, Lazaretto is a lot more graphic. It follows a College campus lockdown after a flesh eating virus starts to spread around its students. It’s like a microcosm for the breakdown of society and the horrific things people will do to one another, with or without their bodies decaying. It’s got a very bittersweet and upsetting ending, but I needed that when I first read it, and I really love this comic.
And then there’s Junji Ito himself. I read The Enigma Of Amigara Fault when it circulated online about five years ago, and was pretty horrified at the ending, but Uzumaki takes it a lot further with body horror. I love them snails! So great! So disgusting! The ending gets very whacky and out there compared to the small-town feeling of the first 3/4, but it’s very much worth the read.
And that’s my list! What books have you read outside of your comfort zone? Are you like me, with no comfort zone and no fear, just going where the wind takes you and discovering new things along the way?
Thank you for reading!