This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish) asked bloggers to pick 10 books we’ve enjoyed that weren’t our usual genre/type of book. I had to dig back a few years to find ten titles that fit the bill, and what I realized while digging is that some of the best books on the list, and the ones that were least similar to my usual genres, were all book club selections. Which is one of the main reasons I love my book club – it gets me out of my comfort zone, usually for the better.
Here are some book club picks I’ve loved that were atypical in genre for me.
(1) Freakanomics by Steven Levitt is a nonfiction book about economics – which sounds like the exact opposite of a book that I would like, but much like many of the people who have read it over the years, I did really enjoy it. It’s surprisingly accessible and had a lot of subject for fodder at our book club’s discussion.
(2) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is sort of historical biblical fiction, telling the story of Dinah who is basically a footnote in the actual bible. This was another genre that isn’t a typical read for me but it’s probably one of my favorite books of all time, so. I’d say this book sparked an interest in a genre that didn’t hold much appeal before so I’m glad my group read it.
(3) The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey is a book I probably never would have read if I had known what it was about. It was heart breaking and intense and #allthefeels and not at all what I was expecting. I’m glad I didn’t know the entire premise which is why I’m being vague here on the off chance that you don’t know what it’s about either and want to take a chance on it, too.
(4) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins got a lot of good press so maybe I would have picked it up even if my book club hadn’t, but a thriller / murder mystery is not my usual cup of tea as I tend to do most of my reading before going to sleep and thus avoid books which might give me the willies. And it definitely had it’s moments of making me ask, “Why am I reading this right before bed?” but I could not stop reading it, so…
(5) These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner is a book I would have abandoned if it weren’t for my book club because the main character’s narrative style / dialect and lack of grammar was bordering on over done for me initially. But I’m glad I stuck it out, because I ended up really loving the book and still think of it often. This is one reason that writing with a thick dialect can be polarizing though – if I hadn’t had club members to hold myself accountable to, I would have passed on this great book.
(6) Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is both fascinating and depressing – hopeful and heart breaking. And being nonfiction, it was occasionally dry enough that I wouldn’t have finished it if my group wasn’t discussing it – I might not have even picked it up. I’m not sure that I’d call this a favorite book of all time, but it was an important book that I’m glad to have read and I think other people should read it, too, and deal with the depressing heart break stuff that happens that is so easy not to think about.
(7) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson was so, so many things. It was a very complex book that evolved as it went until the end result was so far from what it had started out as that it was hard to recognize. And it what it had started out as was a book that frequently made me want to chuck it at a wall and scream at being asked to read it. There is a lot of death in this book, usually involving children, that I wasn’t sure I could handle initially – it’s a category I would usually avoid reading about – but somehow I stuck it out and I’m glad. I think this book thickened my skin in a way that was probably needed and it led to a lot of really interesting discussion.
(8) Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman is a nonfiction book about a woman going to prison and what her life is like on the inside. A kind of fly on the wall deal that while interesting, I probably wouldn’t have read if my book club hadn’t picked it – and now it’s a freakishly popular television show on Netflix. So. I might be the only person on the planet who will say that she liked the book better than the show (in this one instance, the world seems to have gone nuts for the Netflix version) but I’ll say it anyway. Very different, very good.
(9) A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is Asian historical fiction with magical realism and heart breaking grit thrown in. It was so many things that it made my head spin sometimes – my original review gets it right: “This was one of those books that makes you think and then makes you think harder and then makes you think that maybe you don’t know very much after all. It’s a sort of story within a story within a story that seems to be constantly changing the rules and making you question what you thought you understood. Basically, it’s brilliant.”
(10) Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is another historical fiction fantasy book set in Barcelona that was amazing but I’m not sure it would have even made it to my radar if it hadn’t been for my book club. Also I’m a sexist weirdo and I don’t normally read books where a man is the main character so that might have deterred me alone. Another book that I often think of as an all time favorite.
What books would be on your list?
Are you in a book club?
Has it encouraged you to read outside of your comfort zone?