Literary Citizen in Training

New Horizons


I think when I first started my creative writing career, or hobby, I had a wider canvas of topics that I wrote about. As I’ve sped through my classes, my subject matter diversity has almost ceased to exist. I said it in class, but for those of you who don’t know yet, I prefer to write/read horror. On top of that I’d add a supernatural element. I guess it’s okay to narrow your field when it comes to writing, but I definitely need to expand when it comes to reading. I was trying to select books to read on Net Galley, spending a few hours looking over books that seemed interesting to me, but oddly enough, I’ve found it hard to take a blind leap of faith on a book. I typically look at reviews before-hand! A real catch-22 when it comes to selecting a book to review. I ended up selecting a few that best suited my interests such as horror, mystery, and thriller genres, but it left me feeling as if I have narrowed my interests a little too much. I’m sure I could enjoy a story in most genres, as I do with movies, but it ultimately comes down to the books themselves and how they’re written.

A great blog post on a similar subject by Liz Loves Books made a few suggestions on how to expand your preferences. Firstly, it all begins with a small first step. An easy first step is simply listening to the suggestions your friends might make. Try to make it something that is outside of your usually subject preferences. I can’t say that I’ve taken many suggestions from my friends and family, though. The only other avid reader I know in person is my mom, and she prefers to read widely different genres than I do. As much as I’d like to expand my horizons, I don’t think Josh Grisam is going to do it. Liz also made a rather radical suggestion, depending on how you look at it. Next time you find yourself at a local book store, a cheap one preferably, try to pick a random book, outside of your genre or preferred section, and choose something solely on the cover of the book. Interesting advice since most people advise you not to “judge a book by its cover.”

What do you think of these covers? Without any other information, summary, acclaims, awards, or otherwise, would you take a chance on one of them? Liz suggests doing just that. Take a chance. If you hate it, hate it. But what if you love it? It might not be worth the time or the money for some people, but I think it sounds like a fun experiment. I’ve got to admit, I’ve done it a few times before, but I at least read the book’s plot background on the back.

Lesson: attempt to read books you might not typically read! I have a few on my shelf that are far outside my standard choices, but I keep putting them off in favor of the books I’m more inclined to. Once I finally sit down and get a chance to try them out, I’ll tell you all how it went!

On a side note, I was finally approved by Net Galley to review a book. Doing Cathy Day proud! The book, if you’re interested is The Butcher, by Jennifer Hillier.


Author: ejlong0

Wrapping up my final year in earning my Bachelors from Ball State University. I have a Marketing Major and a Creative Writing/Japanese Minor. Currently trying to secure a position in the JET program to teach ESL in Japan!

8 thoughts on “New Horizons

  1. I find that the only time I ever read anything that isn’t in my comfort zone is if a friend recommends it. Although movies sometimes influence my decisions too. I find it funny that we are much more willing to try different movies then to read different books. I mean we can stop reading a book just as easily as we can turn off a movie. Good suggestion though. Could probably do me some good if I tried reading outside of my little box.

  2. Although I read outside of my preferred genre, I also think it’s important to read within the genre too. Especially for fantasy and sci-fi (this could be true for horror, too?) it’s really important to know and understand the trends that are popular and what strides are being made.

  3. I’m one of those weird writers who doesn’t really know many authors. I know stories instead and I am always the one to judge a book by its cover and the back synopsis (of lack of one, biggest pet peeve ever). So in some ways I feel as though I have missed out on books because I haven’t given them a chance but I’ve been open to every type of genre and story style out there and I’ve come to love most of them but I still find it difficult to ‘obsess’ over a particular author because I don’t really like to read the same story over and over.

  4. Good suggestion. I like to try and vary what I read, but it can be easy to stick to one genre since there’s so much out there.

  5. I agree, I think that if you’re interested in writing horror that it’s not such a bad thing to consume a lot of horror works. I do think that Liz raises an interesting point about how we’re willing to watch different genres of movies much more easily than read different genres of books–I guess it’s easier to invest two hours in a movie? Great post, leaves me with a lot to think about.

  6. I just shared your poll fairly widely. Hope you get some responses! We’re going to talk in class tonight about “taking a chance” on a book. Suggestions: you need to create some navigation to this blog, add some pages, and do something with your About page. Also: it’s time to let go of the egg on your Twitter profile. šŸ™‚

  7. I know for me, coming from a background of a very strong passion for all things Dean Koontz, it is incredibly hard to read outside of him. Even in the same kind of genre. I have him up on a pedestal of being my favorite author in the entire world…and I almost feel as if I’m “cheating” on him when I read a book by someone else. It really is hard to break out of that mentality, but just looking at books’s covers is how I played the game when I went to Net Galley. And the book I’m choosing to review, while not Dean Koontz, was still really fairly good and I enjoyed it. I think I’d like to try this experiment the next time the opportunity presents itself.

  8. Horror, sci-fi, and fantasy fans might also enjoy some of the contemporary dystopian novels. Margaret Atwood recently released the final novel in her apocalyptic series. If you haven’t read Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and Madd Adam, give them a shot.

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