What I Gained From Reading Books Of Various Genres
It’s instinctive for us to remain in a bubble whose atmosphere we’re used to rather than break out of our comfort zone to get a taste of contrast. For the longest time, I only read books similar to the Percy Jackson series because of their enticement and thrill. It never occurred to me to chance outside of the adventure genre until a friend gifted me a self-help book for Christmas.
Ever since then, I started trekking across more literary categories and unearthing the gems each genre has to offer. Here are a few takeaways I’ve gotten from reading books of various genres:
1. Fresh perception of the world
When my reading became more transverse, I found myself looking at the world through unconventional eyes. Each author has their own set of creativity, imagination, and advice to gift to readers and you can be on the receiving end of that package if you are willing to venture across categories.
For example, what was a singular historical event could be retold differently by two authors—one who focuses on historical accounts and another who writes fictional history—hence giving you more food for thought to generate your own opinion.
If you need a reason to pick up a new genre off the shelf, let it be this one: The fact that you will perceive the world through new lights and broaden your perspectives on life.
2. Newfound genres
Imagine staying in one place for the rest of your life and concluding that that is the best place on Earth. It isn’t a valid conclusion since you can’t make a fair comparison with other places. Think about all the sights and cultures you’re missing out on if you don’t hop on a train or plane to a brand new destination!
The same applies to reading; when you choose to stick with one genre, you’re likely missing out on others. Sure, that fantasy book takes you on adventures upon adventures, but what about mystery novels that will have you on the edge of your seat, eager to unveil the riddle?
Through diversifying my reading, I have developed an affinity for fiction and non-fiction books alike. Now, I have twice the number of books to enjoy. One of my favourites has been coming across Margaret Atwood’s magnum opus, The Handmaid’s Tale, which she deems as ‘speculative fiction’, where stories take place in a universe not unlike ours and serve as a reminder that our world could very well advance to be like the fictional society.
3. The exploration of hybrid genres
One of the best parts of being a reader is the constant exploration and learning. It’s fun to pick up on patterns across books or hidden easter eggs in a novella itself. Something I’ve learned to be on the lookout for is what I call “hybrid genres”.
Contrary to what the label might be, authors fail spectacularly when it comes to limiting their stories to one category. To spice things up, horror tales often venture into fantasy, fiction into political commentary, adventure into romance, and even romance could turn into a thriller. The way different categories blend to form new ones is ever-intriguing to me and the combinations are endless.
4. Expanded vocabulary
It goes without saying that reading is one of the easiest paths toward thickening our vocabulary. The more you read, the more advanced words and phrases you will encounter; similarly, the more genres you span across, the more your vocabulary will expand to house technical terms, descriptive terms, and more.
This is because authors of various genres have to employ different terms to better convey their stories. Compared to a self-help author who is more likely to use words such as “pragmatic”, “compensate”, or “refine”, a fantasy-writer would opt for “diabolical”, “newfangled”, or “pell-mell”.
I have since managed to express my ideas and tell stories better because I’ve come to collect more accurate words along the way. This increase in vocabulary also branches out to improve communication and writing skills.
5. Improvement in writing skills
Speaking of writing skills and returning to a previous example, in self-help books, the author has to be able to convince the reader of something in order to ‘help’ them; there are certain ways to phrase sentences or specific suggestive words that a writer can concoct to achieve that goal. Hence, observing these tricks across genres has drastically improved my writing skills as a whole.
In my earlier years, I was consumed with YA fiction. That was all that I would read. That particular genre had honed my descriptive writing skills, but it was when I experimented with the non-fiction genre that my persuasive and argumentative writing took flight.
Much like the choice of vocabulary, different genres engage different use of language and writing style. The more categories you explore, no doubt the more diverse your story-telling abilities will grow to be. By exposing yourself to multiple genres, you might also be inspired to unveil some truths behind your own stories. Perhaps that teen fiction you are in the middle of penning would fare better if you magnified the thriller parts of it! Our stories don’t always fit into one box. Reading more books just might help you realize that your stories are better suited in another literary category.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out of your reading comfort zone and dive headfirst into a new genre! You never know what’s waiting on the other side.