Are we limiting ourselves by reading in specific genres?
I never really gave much thought to people saying they only read horror or contemporary or science fiction. After all, I too, only read in certain genres. I assumed it was just a matter of taste. Those specific genres appeal to us because we like the elements that exist within those stories whether they be the adrenaline, the realism, or the escapism.
However, what if we’re limiting ourselves?
What if, by reading in a small sub-section of the wide variety of genres available, we’re missing out on a lot? Yes, it’s true that there needs to be good world-building and character development and an enticing plot in every story. But each genre is known for and often focuses on specific aspects or story lines.
Having chatted with readers and writers, I’ve noticed a few genre trends. Princes and princesses exist pre-dominantly in fantasy. Rebellions exist pre-dominantly in dystopians. Stories that deal with social topics are often clustered inside contemporaries. In other words, the cross-over elements are actually quite limited, meaning there are a menagerie of topics, scenarios, plot elements, character types, and who knows what else that we might be missing out on because we read solely in only a handful of genres.
And what kind of effect does this have on readers?
Well, for one, we’re not taking the opportunity to broaden our minds or imaginations. Isn’t that the whole point of reading, after all? (well, besides the entertainment factor! :p ) Reading has always been about going some place new or stepping into someone else’s shoes. But if we stay in one (or two) genres, aren’t we just stepping into slight deviations of the same shoes?
That’s like only interacting with people of one culture and never getting to know another culture and experiencing how their way of life could change us and our viewpoints.
I’ll use myself as an example
because humility is key. 😉 As many of you may have noticed from the books I review, I stare squarely in the realm of fantasy and scifi. Every once in a blue moon I’ll venture into horror or historical fiction or some other niche genre (many of which do not get enough love 😥 ), but I’m missing out on SOOO much!
Suspense can exist in any genre, but horror does it best, wouldn’t you agree?
The whole point of the horror genre is to be- well, creepy- but also to be suspenseful, to keep you on the edge of your seat. Other genres don’t ever quite do it justice. Or worse, they don’t do it right at all! Imagine how well authors could write suspense in their action/scifi/contemporary genre if they simply took the time to read horror to better understand the elements that make up a good suspenseful scene? Pretty amazing, I would think!
Another example is romance.
Yes, there is a romance genre. And yes, many other genres attempt to add romance into their stories, but how many of them do it well? How many of them make a realistic romance between two or more characters? If you’re like me, you’re not thinking of very many non-romance stories. But there ARE good romances out there. (not that I would know because I’m still struggling to broaden my mind in that direction :p )
And instead of grumbling about the bad romance in a YA fantasy book, readers could jump into the romance genre to get a taste of what a good romance plot is like. They would be broadening their minds (and possibly enhancing their tastes. 😉 )
Now, I’m not saying you need to give up reading your favorite genre completely or even mostly. I’m just saying, you’re missing out on a lot, especially if you just wrote off a genre before ever really giving it a fair chance (as I know I’m guilty of.) So, maybe try a new book in a genre you wouldn’t normally read. Try another. Give it a chance because you never know, you might find something you love (and your TBR will hate you for it. 😉 )
How many genres do you read in?
What’s your favorite(s)?
Leave me your thoughts!
And check out my discussion from last week: