It happens to the best of us. You wake up one morning to realize, with a sudden start of horror, that you've only been reading 1970's hard sci-fi for the last six months. Or you've been reading nothing but contemporary showbiz autobiographies for a year. Or you've been reading
nothing, because you're just too busy, or because no book seems to hold your interest for more than a chapter or two. You are in a reading rut. Don't panic, though, because you can read yourself out again: just pick a new genre! Shake up your literary life. Venture into an entirely new aisle in your local bookstore. Here are a few tips for finding a new genre and getting more excited about your reading life.
I mean, yes, we all have our favorite genres. I'm not trying to take away your comfort reads. If you like to unwind every evening with a cozy armchair mystery or a YA dystopia novel, then go right ahead. But if your TBR pile is looking awfully uniform these days, it can be a lot of fun to try a new genre on for size. You might even find a new favorite book where you'd least expect it:
Take your friends’ recommendations
I know you have at least
one friend who has been BEGGING you to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Or who keeps insisting that you'd like experimental poetry if you just gave it a shot. Or who leaves pirate romance novels in strategic locations all over your home. Well... take them up on it. Even if it's not the kind of book you *think* you'd like. In the best case, you'll have a reading buddy to talk about the book with. And in the worst case, you get to say, "I told you so."
You can set yourself up on
a blind date with a book online. Or you can just pull a book off the shelf at random, and start reading without giving the cover a second glance. This might be the most chaotic way to find your next big read, but it's certainly going to yank you out of your comfort zone, even if your blind date doesn't end in true love.
Go back to favorites you had as a kid
What did you like to read as a kid? Did you read the exact same genres that you do now? Did you read more fantasy adventures and books set in British boarding schools? Were you super into picture books about trains? Did you stop reading books like that at some point because they felt "childish"? Think what books younger you would have been itching to get their fingers on, and don't worry about being "too old" to read books from the teen section. No one is ever too old for magical boarding school adventures.
Read something your evil twin would read
What's the one book you would
never read? A nonfiction exploration of economics, maybe? Or a thick swords and sorcery novel with a map and three family trees in the front? Pick a book that your mirror universe self would read. Go with the complete opposite of your usual taste, and see where it takes you.
Check out your favorite authors’ favorite books
Read a few interviews with your favorite authors, and you'll find that most of them read a wide variety of different genres. Even the most genre-leaning of genre authors seem to enjoy the occasional work of creative nonfiction. Base your next read off of their recommendations. Or do a little research to see if any of your favorite authors have written in different genres, and check out some of their other books. If you're really struggling, you can also check out the favorite books of musicians, actors, and former Vine comedians you admire.
Be honest: you're not going to re-read that historical fiction werewolf novel that's been on your shelf for the last ten years. It's time to let someone else try it out. Get your nerdiest friends together and swap some books to liven up your reading list. Just make sure that all your friends don't
also have the same exact reading taste as you.
Judge a book by its cover
Yeah, yeah, we're not supposed to judge books by their covers. But we all do it. I know you're secretly annoyed when you go to buy a book and they only have the movie tie-in covers in stock. So next time you're in a bookstore, give in to your darkest impulses, and just buy the prettiest book. Don't even read the synopsis. Just trust the cover designer, and dive on in.
Revisit a book you never finished
I know you lied about reading that one book in high school. Everybody had one. Well... maybe now is the time to try again? At the very least, this might be a good excuse to go back in time and pick up that book that you abandoned halfway through in the 8th grade because it was too gross and adult and hard to understand.
Committing to a single book can be hard for some people. Give yourself an out, and start two books, of different genres, at the exact same time. When you get to chapter three, pick one to keep going with (or just read them both if you can't decide). If you
really want to expand your reading horizons, you can try this with three or even four books at once, but that's not for the faint of heart.
Check out used bookshops and libraries
Most employees in bookshops and librarians in libraries will be jazzed to recommend a new genre to you. That's why they're there. You'll also find a more eclectic collection of books in a used bookshop or a library. If you tend to stick to bestsellers and brand new hardcovers, you'll have to venture into the great unknown of slightly older, slightly weirder literature.
Don’t worry about what you “should” be reading
Maybe you read serious nonfiction because you feel like you're not
supposed to read goofy sci-fi or gushy romance novels as an adult. Or maybe you steer clear of long-form journalism because you've always identified as a YA fiction fan. Put your judgments on hold for a minute. It doesn't matter what you think you're supposed to read. Go with your gut, and with the books you feel a connection with, and stop worrying about what everyone else on your commute is going to think.