Reading Outside of your Genre

We all love speculative fiction here, right? (Gives the Hunger Games, three finger salute.)


We love our epic fantasy stories, our extensive Sci-Fi collections, and our supernatural thrillers. Speculative fiction is our passion, our niche, our geeky, little home.

But how often do we read outside of our genre?


Photo credit – Memipong.deviantart.com on @deviantART
“By reading a lot of novels in a variety of genres, and asking questions, it’s possible to learn how things are done – the mechanics of writing, so to speak – and which genres and authors excel in various areas.” Nicholas Sparks
“Writing is writing, and stories are stories. Perhaps the only true genres are fiction and non-fiction. And even there, who can be sure?” Tanith Lee
“Read. Read. Read. Read many genres. Read good writing. Read bad writing and figure out the difference. Learn the craft of writing.” Carol Berg

“I don’t look at stories in genres. A good story is a good story, no matter what planet it happens on, whether the characters are mice or human or whatever. That’s how I look at it.” Tony DiTerlizzi

I’ve been a huge fan of Jane Austen since I was a teenager, reading and rereading her books, until I could recite entire paragraphs by heart.
They’re full of romance and snark and the occasional, it rained so I’m dying now, adventure.
After all my rereading, I was looking for something similar but new to read. I was a little hesitant at first though, because I’m not a huge romance reader.
Despite my hesitancy, I finally  decided to branch out and try some of Julie Klassen’s books, and I’m so glad I did!
Her books captured all the snark and romance I loved from Austen’s works, but also threw in a little Gothic, Bronte mystery too.
The Tutor’s Daughter is one of my favorites.

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?

The baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems–and secrets–of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father’s academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her…

When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?

Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor’s Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast–a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions–where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.- Description from Amazon

Ok, so I guess I’m admitting to being a bit of a romantic here after all. (Hides behind giant map of Middle Earth.)
I do realize that Jane Austen isn’t for everyone, and there are lots of other genres to try.
So, for those of us who aren’t really sure where to start, I do have a couple of suggestions.
So, do you ever read outside of your genre?
If you do, do you have any suggestions?





About Britta Valentine

saved by grace, writer of young adult fiction, and drinker of copious amounts of coffee

12 comments on “Reading Outside of your Genre

  1. Brittany,

    The book sounds really interesting, and I’m hoping to pick up a copy at the library to read. But–the gifs are really distracting. If there was a way to stop them from moving, I would have used it. It’s hard to read around them. I encourage you to take them out of your post and replace them with static images.

    • It’s definitely a good one. I think you’ll like it. 🙂
      And, haha, I guess I have a thing for gifs. 😉

  2. Two thumbs up for this post! I enjoy reading outside my preferred genre (fantasy), and would go so far to say that historical fiction is my favorite genre outside of speculative fiction in general. The trouble is, I have so many fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk novels already that it’s hard to make time for anything else! *lol* But that should change soon. I actually “restructured” my TBR tower not too long ago so I can alternate more often between speculative fiction and other genres. I’m also doing a “market research” project for my new WIP that involves a mix of magical realism and contemporary fiction, so that should be interesting and (hopefully) refreshing.

    • Thanks!
      I totally need to restructure my TBR pile too. It’s one of those things I keep putting off…
      Your new WIP sounds awesome! Did you just start it, or are you already editing?
      I’d love to be on a beta reader list when you get to that point.
      Sending you virtual coffee/tea to fuel the writing muse. 🙂

      • Restructuring the TBR pile is definitely worth the time and effort. I felt better after the fact, knowing it was organized in a way that would (sort of) balance out the various genres more.

        Thanks! I’m about 26K into the first draft of the WIP. The general idea is blending magical realism with one girl’s struggles during her freshman year of college. It’s also tackling mental illness (anxiety and depression), so it’s a bit layered and complex… but it’s been therapeutic, too.

  3. Although spec fiction is my favorite genre, I also read Westerns, historical fiction, mysteries, experimental fiction, classics (lots of classics), ancient texts, action/adventure, some contemporary, some YA fiction, essays, nonfiction, poetry. Not much romance — I think I’ve only been able to finish reading a dozen or so, but the few that kept my interest were mostly older books (such as The Middle Window by Elizabeth Goudge).

    An occasional exercise I do is listing all the titles of all the books & stories I’ve read that can remember (no cheating by looking at my bookshelves) plus a line of what they were about.The last list went over 5K. I could give recommendations for each category but the list would be way too long.

    Many of them aren’t easy, entertaining speed-reads and require more mental work than the average reader wants. You want your brain turned inside-out, upside-down, and left panting on the floor? Try Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce, Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth, or Moonwise by Greer Gilman.

    What I’ve learned, though, is to read widely but study the best (such as award winners) and the ones I like best. This approach has really been valuable for my writing because it shows current fad formulae isn’t always what’s best for my stories.

    • It’s really true that people’s attention spans aren’t as long as they used to be!
      But that doesn’t mean that the classics aren’t amazing.

      I think reading widely is a great idea. Even if we find out we don’t like a certain genre as much, at least we’ve stepped out and tried it. And you never know what you might end up liking.

      Hope your week is off to a great start!

      • Sometimes I wonder whether it’s a matter of shorter attention spans or greater competition for a shrinking amount of time & attention available. All the tech that’s supposed to make our lives easier has inundated us with an overload that allows little space/time for escaping deep into a luscious book unless we choose to shut everything else out.

        It’s kind of interesting to revisit books I’ve read that especially wowed me then. Some I can’t finish a second time and can’t figure out why I liked them back then. A few I felt just so-so about really resonated later in life. Others stand the test of time and, even reading with much older eyes and more life experience under my belt, still have the ability to wow me again.

        Week is going well even with challenges. The Sat night storms in the KC metro area left a lot of mess everywhere.

        With my writing, it’s wonderful. A couple of new short pieces are nearly ready for submission, and I’m coming up on the 30K mark of a historical fantasy that’s rolling along quickly after about 7 years of research for it (not much available online, and some required tracking sources published within a 10 year span around 1902). If I can continue at this pace, I’ll meet my goal of a finished draft by mid-fall and (hopefully) an edited submission-ready manuscript by the end of the year. But even if I don’t get it done that fast, I’m having a blast with it!!! 🙂

        Hope your week is going splendidly, Brittany!

        • Wow! You definitely have a full plate!
          Here’s to many more words written and edited!
          And my week is going great, especially since tomorrow is Saturday. 😉

  4. I’m learning to both read and write outside my genre and, let me tell you, it’s a challenge.
    I’m distinctly (and almost exclusively) fantasy and historical, but I’m branching out into historical romances, Biblical fiction, and some contemporaries. It’s fun, and a great way to stretch comfort zones.

    • It’s definitely stretching!
      And it’s been forever since I’ve written outside of my genre.
      I might need to stretch those writing muscles again.

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