All right ladies (and a few gentlemen), be straight with me here.
Have you ever looked at a book and said, "Oh, that's a [fantasy, thriller, contemporary, etc]. I hate those books" and promptly set the book back on the shelf? I know I have.
I confess. I do not like the following genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Mystery, and Thriller. If a book is labeled as one of these genres, I am far less likely to read it. Is that fair? Should a book be judged by its genre alone? Certainly not.
Case in point: Until 2000, I would not touch a fantasy novel with a ten foot pole. I had no interest in the Narnia books nor Lord of the Rings. Then came a little series called Harry Potter. I was working at Barnes & Noble one summer and everyone kept raving about a book featuring a young wizard. I borrowed a copy from the store (my favorite perk of being a B&N employee) and proceeded to fall in love with J.K. Rowling's world. I plowed through the Harry Potter books as soon as each one was released. I was then inspired to try C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. To my surprise, I enjoyed them (although I'm not a huge Tolkien fan). I was now willing to try fantasy. The next big break came when I read Twilight. No longer was I just willing to try fantasy. I craved it. Paranormal. High Fantasy. Urban Fantasy. In ten years, I went from reading no fantasy, to a little fantasy, to reading a majority of books with at least some fantasy element.
It's amazing how one or two books can open up an entirely new world.
Now back to Alison the hypocrite. As much as I know how important it is not to judge a book on genre alone, it is still hard for me not to do so.
Dystopia is a particularly strong example of my genre-ist tendencies. I dislike dystopia because it's depressing. I like feeling uplifted by a novel. I don't need everything to be hippity-hoppity-happy (I love a good cry), but I don't want to finish a book with the urge to lie in bed for a week with the pillow over my head. That's how I felt when I finished books like Fahrenheit 451; 1984; and The Handmaid's Tale. As with every bright line rule, there are exceptions, of course. The Giver by Lois Lowry ranks among my top five books of all time. I loved the Hunger Games trilogy. I just finished and enjoyed Wither by Lauren DeStefano. That being said, if you tell me that a book is dystopia, the chance that I will read it plummets.
Two Discussion Questions:
1. What genre(s) do you dislike?
2. What are some books that will turn me into a lover of (a) Dystopia; (b) Science Fiction (other than Ender's Game and The Host, both of which I loved); (c) Mystery/Thriller?