Are you a Genre Snob?

11 Apr

Are you a genre snob?

Do you stick to your favourite section of the bookstore, never straying into the other aisles? Do you dutifully purchase volume after volume of your favourite author, regardless of the reviews? Do you hunt down the latest craze, the hottest best seller that everyone is raving about?

Or do you exist somewhere between these extremes?

Have you ever walked into a bookstore and wondered who was responsible for placing horror in the general fiction section, or who placed your favourite sci-fi writer on the fantasy shelf? How does a chilling true-life thriller end up in the sports section? And what happens when there are so many new sub-categories that you just can’t find anything, anymore?

I’ve heard over and over:  I don’t read science fiction, I don’t read horror, I don’t read romance, I don’t read… fill in the blank.

I don’t “read” biographies, but I discovered I’m a Jon Krakauer fan when I was given a copy of Into Thin Air. I don’t “read” young adult dystopia, but I gobbled up Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.  I never heard of John Scalzi until a friend hooked me with The Android’s Dream. When my to-be-read pile got dangerously low, a copy of Joseph Delaney’s The Last Apprentice was lying around the house, so I read it. Now I’m six books into the series, and loving every minute of it.

None of this magic would have happened, if I’d stuck to my tried-and true.

It’s natural to want to categorize things, to fit them into neat compartments. That’s how our brains work, to make sense of the bombardment of information tossed at us every day. But can we take a step back from this habit, and stop forcing everything into a spot on the shelf?

I love facing the challenges of working in different genres. Maybe I haven’t found my niche, that sweet spot where everything flows. Maybe I’m a bohemian spirit, and will never settle down to one genre. But I’m sure having fun in my wanderings.

So I challenge you to break out of your mold, try something new, break away from your comfort zone and read something different. Or if you’re a writer, try writing something in a new genre. Let me know where the adventure takes you.

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25 Responses to “Are you a Genre Snob?”

  1. Chrissey Harrison April 12, 2012 at 4:25 PM #

    Great post, Dianne. I am guilty of sticking to what I know I like, but I always find when I do stray off the beaten path I find myself wishing I did it more. It was straying off the beathen path that lead me to The Clan of the Cave bear and now Jean Auel is one of my favourite authors.

    Recently I read a book I picked up at a jumble sale called “T-shirt and Jeans” by first time author Richard Asplin. (One of those horribly gifted writers who are so good their debut novel gets picked up by Random House, lol). It’s a contemporary comedy, romance novel which is not usually my thing. My comfort zone is anywhere with a speculative edge, preferably involving adventures and swords, or at least magic. It had a bit of a science theme to it in that the main character was a biology teacher, which is why I picked it up, but speculative fiction it was not. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy it, I felt like I learned a huge amount from it.

    As far as writing, I’m in the same position as you, in that I’m still exploring my abilities and interests. I got a chance to chat to a publisher from a mid market UK publisher at a convention recently and the good news is, that’s exactly what we should be doing, lol!

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:23 PM #

      Hey Chrissey – great to hear from you! I read Cave Bear ages ago – I should read it again, and check out that Asplin book you suggested.

  2. Marianne Su April 12, 2012 at 8:50 PM #

    I usually stick to what I love best but I also go through phases. I had a very long biolgraphy phase a while back and still browse that section. These days, I’ll only veer off my usual if it’s recommended. You’ve given me a few titles to check out.

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:22 PM #

      Phases are fun – kind of like fashion trends. Do you ever look at a book and ask yourself, what was I thinking when I bought this?

  3. Matthew April 12, 2012 at 11:01 PM #

    Agreed 100%

    When you diversify tastes in reading, it’s a far richer experience.

    You may not like everything, but it really grants a better way of seeing even the genres you favor.

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:20 PM #

      Sticking to one genre would be, for me, like having pizza every day. Great fun for a week maybe. Thanks for commenting, Matthew.

  4. T. James April 13, 2012 at 6:53 AM #

    As a teenager, I started out primarily a sci-fi and fantasy fan. It took me emptying those sections of my local library during the long summer break to force me to venture off the beaten track into other genres. I now think I’ve read a little of most, and I’ve discovered a lot of rewarding reading as a result.

    You asked where the adventure has taken us. I started out trying to write fantasy, but my first publication is women’s literary fiction. Not what I was expecting when I set out on my writing journey…

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:18 PM #

      Ah, so this is where your love for sci-fi stems from. What inspired you to branch out into women’s literary fiction?

      • T. James June 20, 2012 at 1:23 PM #

        Sorry, I missed your reply when you first posted it. 😦

        Since picking up a pen I’ve been trying different forms and styles of writing to see where my strengths and weaknesses lie, and hopefully learning from my mistakes as I experiment.

        The choice to write about cancer and depression came from my background treating patients with these conditions, and the fact that my wife works in breast cancer research. We’ve also had family members with these conditions, so how they affect people is something that I’ve thought about a lot in the past.

  5. Gareth April 13, 2012 at 10:52 AM #

    Are you a genre snob? LOL, No I tend to read throughout the vast majority although to be honest theres certain fiction I read less of like Chick Lit as I dislike the stereotypes although I do have a weakness for Jackie Collins on that front. (Although mainly her earlier stuff.)

    As to the rest, I think everyones guilty of sticking to their favourites a lot of the time as books are a luxury item so you want your moneys worth. I think the resurgence of car boots has been a big thing as that way you can try books you might not have for a cheap price. Other than that I think that as a writer you have to read throughout a few as you can pick up tips and tricks that you might not of thought of before.

    Finally onto best sellers, yep, I’m guilty of having picked some up because of that but I like to get in on books before the hype hits. I have no preconceptions and occassionally I’m left wondering what the hell people saw in it and travelled onto a different path asking the old author favourite question fo “What if?” Its quirky and I guarantee if theres a writer in you that if someone were to give a starting paragraph from a book that a lot of people would run with it and create something different an unique each time. (In fact it could be a great experiment to try on an E-Book starting people off with an opener and seeing where it goes.)

    As usual Dianne a well thought out and provoking post.

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:17 PM #

      Gareth, you read more books than anybody I know. Actually, several anybodies put together LOL. You couldn’t possibly be a genre snob.

  6. Steve McHugh April 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM #

    I try not to be. I tend to put up anything that interests me, regardless of the genre. I’ll admit that most of what I read is fantasy in nature, be it urban/epic/dark or otherwise, but I read a lot of sci-fi and crime. Besides, I read a lot of comic books. I tend to be more of a genre snob about them though.

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:15 PM #

      Comic books have a unique appeal – have you ever thought of writing one, Steve? I think you’d do a great job!

      • Steve McHugh April 24, 2012 at 2:24 AM #

        I did have an idea for a comic book, it was an offshoot of the books I write staring a different set of people. But I’ve never written one before and don’t know any comic book artists who have the time to do it. Maybe one day.

  7. Darcie April 13, 2012 at 3:18 PM #

    Great Post!
    I usually stick to supernatural, urban fantasy etc. novels, but sometimes I branch out. If someone says, “Hey, such and such novel is great, you should read it!” I’ll pick up that novel and read it. So it’d like to say I’m somewhere between the extremes, but unless someone suggests a certain novel, I rarely branch out. Although, sometimes I don’t branch out because I just don’t have the time to read a novel that I might not like :-\

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:14 PM #

      It’s hard to read something when you feel like you’re wasting your time, or not enjoying yourself. I think that’s why most people stick to thier favourites. Thanks for commenting, Darcie.

  8. Emma Cunningham April 13, 2012 at 6:25 PM #

    I’ll admit to having favourite genres, but I do branch out every now and again.

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:12 PM #

      Everyone has favourite authors, too – who are your favourites?

  9. Angela Addams April 13, 2012 at 8:13 PM #

    Okay, I have to admit that I do tend to stick to what I like but I don’t limit myself completely to one genre. I might get fixated for a while but I do branch out. It’s easy to say, “I don’t read….” but I listen to my friend recommendations and when I’m in a book store I browse everywhere…you never know what you might stumble upon.
    Great post!

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:11 PM #

      It’s great to get that random recommendation from a friend, that turns out to be gold. Thanks for commenting, Angie.

  10. dannigrrl April 13, 2012 at 8:41 PM #

    I used to have several “I don’t reads” on my list, but I joined a book club two years ago and that flew out the window because each of us has such varied taste that I get to try a bit of everything each year. I’m not a fan of any kind of non-fiction, but I’ve read two memoirs that I love, not to mention classic works, mysteries, literary, humour, dystopian, etc. It’s always good to break out of your shell and try new things. Some of those books I loved and some I really hated, but it gives me a better understanding of that genre and the publishing world as a whole.

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:09 PM #

      That’s probably what makes you such a great beta-reader – that you read a variety of genres. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. BigBear85 April 14, 2012 at 1:24 PM #

    I used to be one hell of a genre snob, but since I had to spend 15 months in Iraq, 12 in afghanistan my reading scope has become alot less tunnel vision. because while stuck in one place for a year with limited material you tend to read everything. and now my to be read list is unsightly lol

    • J D Waye April 23, 2012 at 3:06 PM #

      Hey Bear – thanks for dropping by. Have you ever thought about writing about your overseas experiences? That would make for some interesting reading.

      • BigBear85 April 23, 2012 at 4:12 PM #

        ah I was cook lol and it influences the things i write in little ways when ever there is a cook or cooking, or a gun fight of some kind, and I am writing Friday Flash short story called “A Long Walk Home” and its based off of a fear I had when i was over there so it comes out from time to time just not to often 😉

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