I always have a hard time when this kind of topic comes up, because I don’t think there is too much that is really outside my comfort zone that I’d actually be willing to read. I don’t read westerns really at all, but other than that, I’m open to trying most kinds of books. There are definitely genres that I tend to reach for more often, such as thrillers, fantasy, and contemporaries, but I wouldn’t really say that other books are outside my comfort zone. Even when it comes to something like non-fiction, which I don’t really care for in general, I’m still able to find at least a few that interest me. Through the process of doing reading challenges over so many years now, I’ve become pretty good at choosing books that I think I’ll like, but the challenges have also pushed me to branch out a bit more and try new things. I need to have at least a small amount of interest in a book in order to choose it, so even if something is outside my comfort zone a bit, I might still try it if there is something there that I think will hook me. Recently, or at least in the past year or so, I’ve even bought a few books that I’d say were a bit further outside my comfort zone than I’d usually choose, and those are the ones that I decided to feature for this week’s prompt.
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Fable by Adrienne Young
I’m not actually sure if this is something I’ve ever mentioned before, but I’m really not a fan of books that have a heavy focus on pirates, ships or that are set at sea. I don’t even know why, but in general, as soon as most of the action is taking place on a boat, I lose interest. I decided to grab a copy of this book anyway because I’d seen it highly recommended in a couple of videos around the same time it came in on Book Outlet. This book is about a girl named Fable who is the daughter of a powerful trader, and whose father abandoned her four years ago on an island filled with thieves just after her mother was killed in a storm. Fable had to learn to survive on her own, and enlists the help of a young trader named West to help her get off the island and find her father so she can reclaim her place as part of his crew. She soon realizes that her father’s trading enterprises have become much more dangerous since she last saw him, and West may not be who he seems. This book is definitely outside my comfort zone because of the focus on pirates and I can only assume that a lot of is likely set at sea, but it also sounds very interesting! I haven’t read anything by Adrienne Young yet, but she’s an author I’ve been meaning to try for a while. I’m hoping to enjoy this one, even though it contains some elements that I’m not so keen on.
2) My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
This series probably shouldn’t be that far outside my comfort zone because I enjoy historical fiction, but this is less of a straightforward historical book than I usually read. I recently bought all three books in The Lady Janies series, and I’d say of the three, My Plain Jane is probably closest to being inside my comfort zone. My Lady Jane is about Lady Jane Grey, a historical figure whom I don’t know too much about other than the fact that she was the cousin of King Henry VIII’s children. I’ve always been very fascinated by Tudor England, but the main reason I say this series is outside my comfort zone is because it is supposed to be a comedic version and also includes a group of people who can transform into animals. I tend to prefer historical fiction that is a bit more realistic because I like to get a sense of what that time was really like, but I’ve also never really tried anything that uses this kind of comedic twist, so it might be a lot of fun! The third book in the series, My Calamity Jane, is also outside my comfort zone because it is a Western, and that is the one genre I could never get into at all. I’m hoping to enjoy this series as much as everyone else seems to!
3) A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
It took me quite a while to even decide to buy this one, but the more I saw about it, the more it started to intrigue me. It is about a girl named Tavia who is a siren, but she is forced to keep that identity a secret since it is not accepted in her society. In the aftermath of a siren murder trial, Tavia’s favourite internet star is revealed to be a siren too, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during an encounter with the police. I think I was mostly put off this one because I heard the word “siren” and naturally assumed that it would mostly be set at sea, but that does not seem to be the case at all. Instead, it seems to be a mix of mythology with social commentary about injustice and discrimination, which can be interesting. I’m a little skeptical about this one because although I love mythological creatures, I find that this kind of use of magical elements in an otherwise realistic setting can be a little hit-or-miss. I’ve heard so many great things about this book so far, so I’m willing to give it a chance. It’s probably a book that I wouldn’t have given much attention if I hadn’t seen it constantly mentioned by many of the channels I watch, so I’m glad to have a copy now to try for myself at some point.
4) The Silence of the Bones by June Hur
I bought this one on a whim very recently because I’d remembered seeing it mentioned a few times and it sounded interesting. It is set in 1800 in Korea, and it is about an orphaned girl named Seol who is indentured to work with a young police inspector on a politically charged murder case. As they work together, Seol starts to form an unlikely bond with the inspector but this soon gets tested when he becomes the prime suspect in the case. Of all of the books here, this is probably the one that is closest to my comfort zone because I love mystery/thrillers, and I also enjoy historical fiction. The main reason I considered it outside my comfort zone is because it would be the first historical mystery, at least that I can remember, that was set outside of Europe. I haven’t read very much set in Korea in general and definitely not in Korea in 1800. For some reason, I didn’t even have this book on my Goodreads TBR when I bought it, but I’m not sure why since it does sound like something I’d likely enjoy. Even though it’s not that far outside my comfort zone, I’m counting it anyway since it’s giving me a bit of a push to branch out to different settings and try more historical mysteries in general.
5) Wilder Girls by Rory Power
This is definitely the book on this list that I’ve owned the longest, but it’s another one that took me a while to finally decide to buy. This book is about a girl named Hetty who attends the Raxter School for Girls, which was put under quarantine due to the Tox, leaving the students cut off from the rest of the world as the teachers die off one by one. The girls are left to fend for themselves on their island while they wait for the cure they had been promised, and they do not dare leave the school’s fence since the woods have become dangerous. When Hetty’s friend Byatt goes missing, she decides to do whatever it takes to find her, even if that means breaking quarantine and leaving the area, only to realize that there may be more to their lives and the school than she thought possible. I’ve heard this book described as a female Lord of the Flies, which was only mildly interesting to me. The main reason I say this one is outside of my comfort zone is because I’ve heard it contains body horror, which is something that I really do not enjoy reading at all. I’m not sure exactly how graphic this one gets, but at least I’d be going into this one knowing to expect some of this kind of content so it won’t catch me off-guard. I’m much more interested in Burn Our Bodies Down, but that one is definitely a lot more inside my comfort zone than this one.
Great topic! All of these books would be out of my comfort zone too. I think I should read more books outside my comfort level too, but there is so many books that I’m comfortable with, that I don’t have time!