Posted in Book Talk, The Pub Corner

The Pub Corner: You Don’t Put Donna in a Box

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An innocent question we are often asked. Well, the layman version is “What kind of books do you read” and I have to answer that at every family gathering.

There is no right or wrong answer. We’re allowed to enjoy several genres, even ALL genres if we want to! Why not? No one will smack your head with an encyclopedia if you cross an invisible line and pick a book they don’t expect you to.

But I did notice that the more I read, the pickier I become. When I started blogging, I would say “Oh, I love crime stories, but nothing too gruesome.” Fair enough. Since then, I learned a lot about my reading habits and genres.

I can now proudly say I cannot resist a psychological thriller, that the suspected husband trope is my downfall, and that I would give all my chocolate bars for a well-executed police investigation or my collection of socks for an unreliable character to root for.I look for details that make a good book an excellent one, I swear and I get frustrated when my expectations aren’t met. Books taught me a lot about myself, what I can take, and what I’d better stay away from. I believe this is the difference between a casual reader and the devourers of books that we are. Our brains get trained to look for certain things, our nails accept the fact they will be bitten because of a chilling story, our eyes learn to fly over the pages. We just grow with every story.

But I refuse to be put in a box!

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I call this freedom. And we are free to open up to the entire world. Or worlds. Assuming your favorite genre doesn’t put you in said genre’s jail.

Why?

Because despite my unconditional love for women in terrible situations or hard-boiled detectives, I can also appreciate different dishes and learn to enjoy other things. Battles (when they are not too long!) cheesy moments, meetings with fae, the making of viruses. It usually requires a little more effort on my part to get into those stories, but stepping out of your comfort zone can be so rewarding. I have learned about and from fairy tales, magic realism, coming of ages stories. I must admit they also are very welcome after a row of very very heavy and dark stories!

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I say yes to favorite genres and no to limitations! I say yes to readers making the jump to try new things! Go out there, pick that book (no, not Lolita, it’s not worth it!)

The world is gigantic and your next adventure is waiting. Maybe try a different shelf! 😉

This was a (useless) message from the Bookish Organization of Donna shared with you after a terrible fight interesting discussion about the importance of opening our minds to different genres, cultures, countries, and authors.

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Where’s your comfort zone? Do you dare step out of it? 

68 thoughts on “The Pub Corner: You Don’t Put Donna in a Box

  1. Love this post! When I first started blogging, my comfort zone definitely was contemporary books, but now I have gone more and more into fantasy and I love it so much. It’s good to step outside of your comfort zone for sure, I made amazing discoveries this way 🙂

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    1. It was a way to vent (again xD) against all the clichés and stupid things I hear when I talk about the blog or the books, it needed to get out! 🙂 Thank you my Sweechie!!! I do believe that without blogging I would not have dared exploring other genres as much as I do now 🙂

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  2. Love it, Donna! My ‘best of 2016’ list featured lots of historical and post apocalyptic/zombie fiction (my unrelated favourites!), but also some really sound and unusual contemporary fiction (I refuse to call it ‘women’s fiction’, even if it was about women and relationships!). It wasn’t until I read some SciFi that I discovered I love that, too (as long as it’s not about aliens and UFOs), and also a good road trip adventure. Oh yes, and non-fic travel memoirs. You mention ‘opening our minds’ – yes, exactly.

    I wrote a post a while back about writing in different genres, my argument being that if you read lots of different ones (and, with the ease and cheapness of Kindle books, more of us do), you might like other genres by the same author. I hope I wasn’t being too idealistic; I’d be interested to know what you and all your avid reader blog followers think!

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    1. I love seeing diverse book lists, branching out is so important to feed our brain and imagination! It’s true that I’m always curious about authors venturing into different genres, I feel we all should have a broad horizon and no limits 🙂

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  3. (meant to tick the ‘notify me of new comments’ box so leaving another one so I can do so. Feel free to delete!)

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  4. Haha. Totally agree. While I’m a sucker for a crime novel, my favourite ever book is A Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I will dip into Chick Lit or romance (I know!) and I can resist a good comedic read. I actually hate that books get confined to genres. What makes something literary fiction. I thought by definition a book was literary and if it’s a made up story it is therefore fiction. Why can’t a book just be a book? If it looks good I’ll read it. Even if the cover is pink…

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    1. I am often confused by genres, especially when I step out of my comfort zone, sometimes I don’t know where to put the books I’m reading and it’s okay this way! I love having shelves with lots of different things! I totally agree, a book is a book, the most important is to read it, not label it.

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      1. Great post, Donna… and I really like your last sentence here. To broaden it, “a person is a person, the most important is to enjoy/love/understand them, not label them.” 🙂

        I’ve found the further out I branch out with my reading, the kookier it gets, and the harder it becomes to go back. Sooner or later that branch is going to snap, but it’s fun out there!

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  5. Great post! My reading habits change all the time so I’m not surehow I would answer that question either. I used to devour crime and psychological thrillers but now I’m on a bit of a historical and women’s fiction roll. I do know what I don’t like though, fantasy and erotica.

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  6. Hear, hear! I too get frustrated when I get asked: ‘So, what kind of books do you like to read?’ Other than ‘Good ones’, what other answer can I offer? And good is in the eye of the beholder, and even depends on mood. Sometimes I feel like a page-turner, sometimes like a slow, subtle build-up… I have sometimes been reluctant to step outside my comfort zone (and read science fiction or YA or things like that), but I’ve nearly always been richly rewarded when I have done so! Just go with the flow and joy of reading!

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  7. Creative post Donna! My comfort zone is mystery/crime fiction. I’m not afraid to step out of my comfort zone every now and then but I do tend to drift right back. I totally agree that the more I read, especially since blogging, I’ve come to realize what I look for in stories and what I really don’t enjoy

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  8. I like the way you think but there are so many books out there, I’ll still choose the safest option and choose something that I probably will enjoy over something that I might enjoy. I get plenty of review requests (even though it’s stated I don’t accept any) that include space ships, time travel, conspiracies against a government, a paranormal streak and I turn them all down. It’s such a gamble and the few times that something happened in a book that ‘can’t be rationally explained’ they lost me. Not everyone’s as difficult to open up to other genres as me though and I do really admire people who love a multitude of genres. Even though I’m a bit ‘stuck’ if you want in 2 main genres, I still have plenty to choose from and not get bored so I’m still quite happy with the way it is :-).

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    1. It’s true that with our giant TBR we need to be choosy sometimes and pick things we are most likely to enjoy, but I love risks in reading 🙂 I also receive requests for books that I clearly stated I did not read, I wish people would take the time to read our guidelines when they as we read entire books!

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  9. Another fab post, I loved reading this! 🙂 I always struggle when people ask what I like to read because I read such a variety of things. I tend to find it easier to say what I don’t read (horror mainly because I’m a total wimp!). I think it’s easy to get in a rut with reading at times – I find something I like and read so many books in the genre that I sicken myself of it for a while. I did this last year and ended up in the worst reading slump that lasted around three months!! Now I’m back reading lots of different books at the same time and really enjoying my books.

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    1. Thank you! I was so angry last night after hanging up the phone with my family that I had to write something about how readers don’t have one single path but a million options available and an infinity of things to discover! Haha, we’re both avoiding horror, I can’t take it, or I lose the little sleep I get! I do believe in mixing genres so you keep the slumps away 🙂 Thanks so much for reading this xxxx

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      1. It makes me annoyed too when people make assumptions about readers. I can’t cope with horror – neither books nor films, I don’t like being scared. I can cope with thrillers but not horror. Mixing up the genres and reading what you’re in the mood to read definitely keep the slumps away. 🙂 xxx

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  10. A good post to discuss Donna, it seems we are not the only ones who have changed our genres as bookbloggers. (based on the comments above). I think we are lucky that we get offered to read so many different books. Also some which are stated that we do not read, but I like to read all the blurbs of books offered to me.
    I started loving chick lit, now I love crime, psychological thrillers, especially legal ones. Before becoming a blogger, I wouldn’t have read YA or fantasy, but having given it a try, I’m glad I did. I will still be very picky on what I choose to read, but I won’t be sticking to one genre. So, as you so eloquently put it, don’t be put in a box Donna, enjoy the many books and genres and plots and stories out there. One thing I disagree on…. I wouldn’t give up all my chocolate bars! No way!! ;-0

    Amanda. xx

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    1. Like you, I read all blurbs, except erotica because this is the only thing I will never ever read. I really appreciate how blogging is shaping my reading. I’m picky too, and it takes a good cover and/or blurb to make me grab a book out of my comfort zone, but I like going out and visiting pages of genres I don’t read a lot to see what is going on and if there’s anything that could fit in what I’m looking for.
      Haha, I make the ultimate sacrifice, my chocolate… But I still have my waffles! xx

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  11. I’ve always enjoyed a wide variety of books despite my favourite being crime fiction of various sub genres – my reading tastes also change, my love of some types of psychological fiction has waned (probably due to over consumption). I love Beryl Bainbridge, L.P. Hartley and Graham Greene – but try as I might I’m not keen on sci-fi or fantasy but nor do I judge those who do!

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    1. I think the most important is to keep in mind tastes change, or evolve, and it’s okay to love as many genres as we want. I just am so tired of having to say I can totally be immersed in a fantasy one day and hooked on a thriller the next, then justify because both are so different. My mind is able to enjoy lots of things, just like my mouth appreciates different food!

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  12. I couldn’t agree with you more! Stepping out of your reading comfort zone can be so very rewarding 🙂 That’s what I’ve been doing throughout 2017 so far. When I first started doing reviews, I only reviewed paranormal romance and while I’ve a sucker for an over-muscled vampire king, I found I was limiting myself. I was essentially writing the same review again and again. By delving into other genres, I’ve discovered new favorite authors and have added new books to my favorites list 🙂 Not only that, though, I’ve found I’ve been able to connect with a wider variety of bloggers too!

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    1. That’s fantastic! 🙂 I remember when I started blogging I could only get books from my university library so there were lots of classics and I hate them! But then thanks to the amazing recommendations from other bloggers, I rediscovered what I loved, discovered new things I loved, and I’ve just been mixing it all ever since to avoid being jaded with any genre! 🙂

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      1. Eugh, classics! I know exactly what you mean. When I was at university, we had to read things like Daniel Defoe’s ‘Moll Flanders’ and it was unbearable! I’m so pleased you were able to discover better books through blogging 🙂

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          1. I know, right!? When I graduated, it took me a good year or so to be able to read for enjoyment again. I just felt so drained! Did you study literature too?

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              1. US literature sounds a tad more exciting. What were some of the books you had to read? In my second year, I actively chose a Victorian literature module and it was hell. And 5 years!? That’s a long course!

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  13. This is a great post Donna! It may be evident by my blog but even though I mainly read YA fantasy books, with some contemporary, sci-fi and magical realism mixed in, whenever someone asks me what I enjoy reading I will just say anything, because as long as the blurb is interesting I will pick anything up and give it a go.
    I also think that’s better than talking for an hour about all my favourite books! Most people I speak to outside of WordPress don’t like to read as much as I do so that would likely scare them off! 😀

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  14. Ahhh I love this post, Donna! Go you, don’t let anyone put you in a box, for anything ahah. 😉 ❤ I definitely want to go outside my comfort zone more, right now that's fantasy and contemporary. Love both genres so much, but I definitely want to read other genres!

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  15. Yes!!!! I recently realized that I have no “theme” or featured genre on the blog and it made me sit back and think. Am I missing a better audience because of this. I follow a ton of bloggers who seem to have really found a wonderful niche in specific genres and I love it! I know where to go when seeking out that next thriller, fantasy, etc. I am not able to offer this.. why?

    I blame blogging haha. It has actually caused me to branch out more. I am such a mood reader and it so easy now to find the right book for the right mood 🙂 While I may have favorites, I am all over the place. I literally cringe sometimes when I am asked what I read. How do I answer that?!

    Love this post ❤

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  16. I’ve always been a pretty eclectic reader so ‘what kind of books do you read’ is a question that drives me crazy! It’s so much easier for me to say what kind of books I don’t read – romances, cowboy books, and books about animals! Though even then there are some exceptions… no boxes allowed in my house, except the one the cats like to sleep in. 🙂

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  17. My favourite genre is definitely fantasy, as it’s the one I reach for the most. But I definitely enjoy reading other genres as well and leaving my comfort zone. (It doesn’t happen too often, but I always try to read different kinds of books, so I can expand my horizon.) Amazing post Donna! 😀 Also, I’m loving your new blog design! ❤

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words about the design! 😀 I did it all by myself like a grownup, and I was so afraid of messing everything up, hahaha!
      I love reading out of my comfort zone and then come back to it and be overwhelmed by a sense of welcoming, like I’m home again after an adventure 🙂

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  18. Oh gosh yes!! I’ve found that the more I read, the more genres I want to explore, but the fussier I am about style or the way it’s done. But, that said OH MY GOODNESS I agree with you so much- I do not want to put myself in a box when I’m reading- there’s just too many delightful books in the world!! (except of course Lolita 😉 )

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  19. Great post Donna. My comfort zone is definitely mystery/crime/legal/domestic thriller. Lol all kinds of thrillers. However, occasionally, I do read YA, Memoirs, Historical Fiction and romance. My no go zone so far has been fantasy. Nothing against the genre but I juts think that I won’t get it. That I will end up with a world so bizarre that my mind will reject it lol. Anyway, definitely challenged to try it out someday.

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  20. Wonderful post! 🙂 I especially loved the line–> “I say yes to favorite genres and no to limitations!” Well said! 🙂
    I think by now you know that I read wall to wall… Sometimes I find that I jump from dark fantasy to a romance or a YA book and completely end up loving the latter while the readers who LOVE romance and/or YA genre found themselves underwhelmed by the same book. It’s just the routine that can come with sticking to a single genre, isn’t it? anyway, not sure if I managed to form my words in a way that made my point understandable.. I am a bit broken the past few days, but you’re smart. I’m sure you got my gist completely! 😄

    Hmm… no one ever asks me what I read, really… They’re like- oh, you read a lot of books. Cool…. *crickets chirping* So, thankfully I have book blogging.. in real life, I’d have no one to talk about books with!

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    1. I absolutely got your point 😀 I see my reading list as a guest list for a party, and you need all kinds of people to make a good party, so you need lots of different books to have a great time 😀 As much as I love crime and psychological thrillers, if I read too many in a row, I end up disappointed and jaded with the genre.
      You have us, forever!!! 😀

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  21. “I say yes to favorite genres and no to limitations!”
    Indeed! Cool slogan there. I like variety. I lean more to fantasy, but I read anything that catches my eye.

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      1. Lol!
        Same here. And some classics aren’t that great. The only reason why some books are considered a classic is because it was written so long ago.

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  22. I love this post! I was asked this very question today and I can’t ever give a straight answer because there just isn’t one. I have “usual” genre’s but I’m quite happy to stray! If I like the sound of a book, then I’ll go with it. And I completely agree with Jen’s comments on Literary fiction! I do love reading your discussion posts Donna!

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    1. Thank you so much! I usually write those posts on the spot because of a talk or something I’ve heard or read that triggered a reaction in me but usually I feel silly posting them!!
      I hate that question, even if I have preferred genres, I’m adventurous, I want to discover more stories. The courage I lack in life I get in books, haha!

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  23. Amen to this!! ❤ ❤ Question: are you living inside my head?? Because this is EXACTLY how I feel about the whole genre question. 😉 Like you mystery/thrillers are my weakness, but I love different genres as well (other favorites being fantasy, historical fiction, (realistic) fiction and even non fiction if it's true crime or memoirs). Some people say I should stick with one dominant genre while others don't understand how I could enjoy genres that are so fundamentally different. But as you said: don't put avid readers in a box! 😉 I like having an eclectic taste; it definitely means it's easy to switch genres whenever I need something different to change things up a bit.

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    1. YES I AM LIVING INSIDE YOUR HEAD! Right corner, under the blanket of crime :p
      I don’t understand how narrow-minded people can truly believe a reader should stick to one genre! Books are about opening your world and mind to different things! If it’s not your intention, it’s okay, but don’t assume others just stick to one thing and never get out of their cocoon.

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      1. Hahah not sure if it’s a great place to live though, close to my apparent unhealthy serial killer obsession. xD And my thoughts exactly! To each its own and reading just one or two genres works for a lot of people, but they shouldn’t discriminate those who want to open their minds to different things..

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  24. Great post, Donna!

    I mostly stick to YA books, especially Thriller/Horrors and Fantasy. I am extremely open to reading other genres though. I don’t think I could ever put myself in a box and only read one type of books. Ever since I started blogging I’ve really stepped outside my comfort zone and have read a few Adult books and I’m definitely interested in reading more though.

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  25. I love dark psychological thrillers too, Donna, and crime. But I’ve really expanded the breadth of what I choose to read over the last few years and have been surprised by the wonderful books I would never of found if I hadn’t. A good story, well told, and it doesn’t much matter what genre it’s in 🙂

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  26. I know why you said “Making viruses!” bahahahah.

    You’re right, reading does teach us a lot about ourselves, and our taste in books definitely becomes more and more refined.

    At this point I know that soft sci-fi makes me want to cross my eyes in despair, thrillers can only surprise me about 1/4th of the time, and that even after all this time, I still loooooooooooove me a good ghost story.

    Oh, and I absolutely hate it when postapocalyptic novels make humans the bad guys. GIMME the scary monsters, dagnabitt!

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  27. Love this post. My reading boundaries definitely have opened up since blogging and I have been introduced to new genres. I agree with you on biting the bullet and trying something new because you never know, even if you hate a certain type of genre such as thriller like I did at first you might find one book which transforms your opinion and makes you keep giving it a try.

    I also agree with not picking up Lolita definitely not worth it, I really didn’t like it.

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