I Challenge You!

It’s always good to remove yourself from your comfort zone once in a while.  Open yourself up to new experiences and broaden your horizons. I know that human beings like their ruts and it can be difficult to try something different. But that is exactly how you discover new things that you enjoy and want to share with others in your life. Like the old adage says, “How do know you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it?”

I am challenging you to read something other than your usual. I know some people who only read mysteries or romances. And yes, those are great and enough are published every year to keep you happily devouring new material constantly. But are you really reading new material? Or are you merely revisiting the same themes over and over again? Yes, they are comfortable and familiar. But are they exciting and fresh? There is so much out there. The library buys thousands of new books every year and we have a few million on our shelves already. Don’t you think you might be missing out on something?

When I started working on the First Floor over two years ago, I wanted to be able to do the best job possible to serve the customers coming in and using our resources. One aspect of this was familiarizing myself with genres that I wasn’t used to reading. When I find the time to read for pleasure my tastes lean toward mysteries, cookbooks, chick lit, general fiction, and a variety of nonfiction, especially biographies. I also had some familiarity with other subjects and genres in the First Floor collection. I read lots of short stories and magazines after my son was born because my time and attention span were very short. I used to purchase the travel books for the Main Library when I worked in the Social Sciences Department eons ago. (Now combined and known as the Reference Department.) I had a passing interest in horror books as a teenager, as well as steamy romance novels. (Natch!)

I decided the one area where I really needed some work was graphic novels. My only experiences with them were the Archie comic books I read as a kid and the Batman comics collected by my ex. I decided to begin with a graphic novel that I had seen a good review for. I enjoyed it and wrote a staff pick for Far Arden. Since then I have read several others. Some have been turned into other staff picks or become the subject of blog posts and I’ve used at least one as a read-alike for another book. Others just became talking points for me and my friends and colleagues.

Through this experience I have introduced my son to graphic novels. It’s really not a far stretch from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He has started selecting Pokemon manga for himself. I have brought home graphic novels for him and he’s picked up at least one that was lying around the house. That last one allowed us to have an honest conversation about the book’s subject and now he understands my point of view on the subject of fast food more clearly.

After doing some reading on my own, attending a webinar or two, keeping an eye out for reviews and information, and just helping customers with questions, I am more confident in my knowledge of graphic novels and also feel that I have expanded my reading horizons. I found several books that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading that I would not have encountered otherwise. It’s been good for me. My next stop on the genre list is manga.  I have one series in mind to try that combines some of my other interests. I think that’s always a good place to start; find a book in a new genre that has some similarities to books you already know you like to read.

So that’s my challenge for you. Read something different. Read something new.  Other people are doing it. And please let me know how it goes.

-Melissa M.

P.S. Someone really wants me to read something from the fantasy genre next. That’s never been my favorite. Any suggestions for someone who tried a couple of times to read J.R.R. Tolkien and never got past the first chapter?


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8 responses to “I Challenge You!

  1. I’m not really a big fan of pure fantasy either, but I was stunned at how much I liked the RUSA Genre Award winner this year, Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. I haven’t been able to make it through the rest of the award winners (yet) this year, but that one, worth every second. :)

  2. lee

    Neil Gaiman is a good author to start with if you want to explore some fantasy reading. Terry Pratchett, too.

  3. LAV

    Expanding horizons, woohoo! There is a lot of crossover fantasy/chick lit that I think you would find, at the very least, amusing. Try Valerie Frankel’s “Hex and the Single Girl” on for size, and let me know what you think. For something slightly darker, Kim Harrison’s “Dead Witch Walking.” And I dare you not to fall in love with Harry Dresden via Jim Butcher’s “Storm Front.”


  4. You’ve got some great suggestions here already, but I’d like to add anything by A. Lee Martinez and “Poison Study” by Maria V Snyder (who, as an added bonus, is a Pennsylvania author!).

  5. lizzy

    Shari Tepper–Gate to Women’s Country is one of my favorites!

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