This is a guest post by Jayden Hunter.
Last January I was looking for something new to read. I wanted a best-selling book but in a genre I've never read. My logic was simple: If lots of people like a certain book, there must be something in it for me to enjoy, and if not, c'est la vie. What have I lost by trying?
I've read in many genres including science fiction, thrillers, mysteries, and other popular niches as well as non-fiction best sellers like Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis. I've read my share of books on writing. (Larry Brooks and Shawn Coyne if you're interested in my top recommendations.)
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty was selling a lot of copies and getting good reviews last January. It was in a genre that I've avoided--popular chick lit. Even though it was kind of a murder mystery--and I have read Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, and Patricia Cornwell, so maybe I was cheating a little bit here --I figured it qualified for my experiment. I'm going to suggest that you try the same.
For instance: Let's say you've never read Stephen King. He's a horror, fantasy, and supernatural writer, right? It's not your thing. But hold on a second.
If you liked Big Little Lies or similar books, you'd like King's Dolores Claiborne. The protagonist is a woman that is faced with problems similar to those found in Big Little Lies--a murder, abuse, and secrets from many years past. Is Stephen King a chick lit writer? No, of course not, but both Dolores Claiborne and Misery are books with strong female characters, one a protagonist, the other an antagonist, and incidentally both characters are played beautifully by Kathy Bates in the film adaptations. Neither book is a supernatural horror story.
When I finished the Moriarty book I was very happy I'd tried it. While that type of book isn't going to be my favorite--and I did feel it was a 5 star book--I had a new experience and something I can talk about and even recommend to others.
So what else have I tried this year? Good question. Erotic romance. Yes, if you check the Amazon Kindle Best Sellers list right at this moment you'll see that erotic romance titles are outselling the biggest names in books. (Okay are you back? I'll wait...) Stepbrother romance, shapeshifter, billionaire, and other bad boy sub-genres are bringing in huge audiences.
Shocking isn't it? So, yes, I read about five of these in row a couple of months ago. I wanted to know why they are so popular. I learned a few new things. (No, I don't mean it like that.) I mean that I learned new literary terms like “insta-love” and “insta-lust.” I'm not sure if my life is richer or not, but I'm not going to say I regretted finding out what the interest is in this crazy genre. And besides, you never know when you'll be at a party and need something interesting to talk about. “Hey, have your read the latest shapeshifter insta-love novella?”
Just for the record, I did not read a stepbrother romance, but I did read about a pair of werewolves that – never mind. If you're curious, go buy one. They are cheap and easy, after all.
So my other new thing wasn't so much a new genre, but rather, a work by Norwegian crime novelist, Jo Nesbo. His style is different than American writers, and while he's not Stieg Larsson, he was writing crime fiction a long time before the famous Swedish writer hit the American book scene. I was entertained, and I'm considering checking out his crime series about a detective named Harry Hole. (Yes, don't even ask because I don't know. Okay, are you back from Amazon?) I know you didn't believe me when I told you that there was a bestselling Norwegian crime writer with a protagonist named Harry Hole. I didn't believe it either.
I have a confession to make. Before I mention what it is, I'd like to go on record as saying some of my favorite authors are guys like Michael Connolly, Jim Butcher, Pat Conroy, and Nelson DeMille.
I've read most of Dan Brown, John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, and Tom Clancy. And I read the Twilight series. Sure, it was a bit cheesy, but I loved it, and I'm glad I didn't let a little thing like manhood get in my way.