Saturday, January 9, 2010

Going beyond one's comfort zone


I just read this wonderful piece from Salon.com entitled "Read a book you think you'll hate in 2010." In a way, the article describe's the New Year's resolution of the writer, wherein she'll read a book that she would usually avoid. It's an amazing concept, isn't it? And one that I'm willing to try out this year.

But first, I need to identify the things that turn me off, or my biases against certain books. Here are some of them:
  1. Novels that have "The best American novel" as blurbs
  2. Any book by Danielle Steele, Paulo Coehlo, and John Grisham
  3. Books with covers that show headless women, shirtless men, and two hands cupping an apple
  4. Cookbooks by celebrity chefs
  5. Memoirs that involve poverty, depression, and angst against one's parents
2010 is supposed to be the year I read more classics and fewer contemporary novels. But I guess, the above list is as good a reading challenge as any. How about you, dear reader? Are there any books that you've always been afraid to read but are willing to take on this year? I'd like to know about them.

19 comments:

Portobello's coffee said...

Spencer and Heidi have a book?!? Wait, that really shouldn't surprise me.

savidgereads said...

I really like this idea... though I have to say if you think you are gonna hate a book (no comment on the heidi book but yes even in the UK we are very aware of her and wish not to be) you probably at least will dislike it. It would be great to be proved wrong. Maybe I should try a Martin Amis again this year!

Peter S. said...

@Portobello's coffee: Yes, they have a book. Unfortunately, it's still not sold here in Manila.

@savidgereads: Heidi and Spencer -- Speidi -- are everywhere! You can't avoid them!

fantaghiro23 said...

Hey, Peter! Saw that article, too, and started thinking of which books will fill the category. So far, I only have PP&Z and celebrity biographies.

Davin Malasarn said...

I think this can be very informative. A couple years ago, I had to deal with an hour commute, so I tried audio books for the first time. And, since I was torturing myself anyway, I decided to choose books I wouldn't have read any other way. I ended up exposing myself to several new authors and, since I'm a writer, I learned some new techniques I could use myself.

martine frampton said...

Surely you dislike these books because they are CRAP. life is too short to read bad books.
Sorry, not taking this challenge.
but thanks for sharing
Martine

Peter S. said...

@fantaghiro23: How about the Palin "autobiography"?

@David: That's precisely why I'm going to try this out. I want to discover new writers!

@martine: You're welcome.

SariJ said...

Sometimes reading out of our comfort zones leads to wonderful surprizes. Last year as part of group challenge I had to read a classic scifi book. I picked a book by Arthur C Clark with trepidation but ended up loving it!
I read a graphic book earlier in the month and liked it. Had you asked me before I would have said "no way".
By the way Peter, your line about the two hands holding an apple made me laugh out loud! I admit, I read that book but hated it. Now there is a something I will stay away from, anything that says author S. Meyer.
I hope you enjoy your trip away from your comfort zone.

Charlie said...

I agree with Martine Frampton—too many good books, not enough time, and I don't want to end up hating a book I might hate.

One thing you can be sure of: I will NEVER touch a book in the "romance" genre. IMO, it's garbage that does nothing but demean women in poorly-written prose.

Peter S. said...

@SariJ: LOL! We have something in common!

@Charlie: Wow, them strong words about the "romance" genre.

artseblis said...

FFP's assigned reading is my challenge to read beyond my comfort zone. i tend to focus on genres, so only if the book club selects, for example, a health and diet book do i finally open such a book.

Peter S. said...

Hi, artseblis! Oh yes! I totally agree with you. Some of our reading selections are challenges in themselves.

Alexia561 said...

I try to read outside my comfort zone every now and again as it's a great way to discover new authors, but no way am I going to read Speidi's new book! *shudder*

There are so many good books out there, why would anyone want to waste their time with "bad" books?

Had to laugh when I saw #2 on your list! They're not outside my comfort zone, just not very good writers IMHO. Agree 100%! :)

josbookshelf said...

LOL, Peter, at balking on Paulo Coelho. His was one of those rare books I read halfway and couldn't bring myself to finish. I was about some pilgrimage and a sword.

So maybe he is one I should try again in 2010 with the really popular "The Alchehmist". If I can't go through that, well, maybe I'm just not the philosophical sort. :)

Amen to numbers 4 and 5 as well. Especially number 5. I don't need a psychological flagellation.

Peter S. said...

@Alexia: LOL at your comments! I used to read Grisham before.

@josbookshelf: I promised myself to read The Alchemist before I die.

Stepford Mum said...

I did just this two years ago when I finally gave in (after buying numerous copies as gifts for nieces and cousins) and read the Twilight series, and again last year with Sookie Stackhouse (if Twilight is the Sweet Dreams of today, the Sookie Stackhouse books are the modern-day Mills and Boons.) For this year, I've already borrowed a copy of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol to read when I'm done with Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth.

Patrick said...

Hi Peter! I think I just did this challenge. You know I prefer novels. I was actually in the middle of reading Lovely Bones when I picked up this biographical novel. And I'm now loving every word in it! I don't even want to finish Bones now and just read more biographies! Haha!

I've read 2 of Coelho's books. Alchemist was the first and it was okay. My sister hated it though. The 2nd one is Eleven Minutes and that book only made me swear not to read any more of his "philosophical" books.

Peter S. said...

@Stepford Mum: I've yet to read a Sookie Stackhouse novel.

@Patrick: The Alchemist has always intrigued me.

aloi said...

hi peter! first time to read your blog! interesting concept and a great way to challenge yourself. i like your list of books you're biased against, esp. no. 3 heehee. though i must admit that i've read the apple cupping hands one out of curiosity (they're extremely quick reads despite their bulk!) find it strange that you lumped coehlo with danielle steele though, as he's pretty decent despite all the hype. anyhoo, 'til next comment ...