At the beginning of 2020 if you had asked me if I, as a reader, had any genre blindspots, I would have answered yes. I have at least five. But before I go on and tell you what they are and if I still have them, I suppose I should pause and explain what I mean by genre blindspot. It is a category or style of book that I never see, look at, consider or notice when browsing bookshelves be they virtual or physical, bookshop or Library. Gosh, it sounds so awful when I say it like that. However, be that as it may, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who experiences this. We all have things we like and dislike and it’s no different when it comes to books.
So what were my five? In no particular order – Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, gritty Crime/Thrillers and Westerns. That’s a lot of literature that I’m side stepping. But you will notice that I am using the past tense when I talk about them – were. Why? Well I am happy to say that thanks to a goal of broadening my reading pallet, I can scratch Fantasy from that list. I have read two stories in that genre this year and they have been the two best books of 2020 so far. I also now have a sizable Fantasy TBR to work my way through of which I am very much looking forward to. I am not sure what the block was for so many years, but now we – myself and Fantasy fiction – are building a good solid relationship.
The jury is still out when it comes to Science Fiction. I have read one novella of that genre so far this year as it was all I felt comfortable with at the time committing to. I do have one full length book pre-ordered that has had some great reviews which is classed as Science Fiction, so I have high hopes for an enjoyable reading experience from that one. I know this is very much only dabbling in a vast and varied body of work but I figure at least I am trying.
However the same cannot be said for gritty Crime/Thrillers. At this stage I cannot see myself engaging with this type of book any time in the future. This is no criticism on the quality of the writing from the authors who produce this work. It is purely a me thing. I don’t feel comfortable with much of the content. What do I mean by that? Well, the level, tone and type of violence on the page is more than I wish to engage with, especially when the subject or victims of these behaviors are more often than not women. It gets very depressing. I sometimes feel that some authors write what I can only describe as more sick or depraved plots/situations in order to differentiate themselves from all the others in that field. I would rather not take up my leisure reading hours with that. That doesn’t mean that I won’t read books that tackle difficult subject matter – I will – but just not of the type discussed above. So sorry – gritty dark Crime/Thrillers will remain (deliberately) a genre blindspot.
Westerns are a funny genre for me. Not engaging with them is not confined to just literature. I don’t like movies that are Westerns either. I have never really given it much thought as to why until now. Mulling it over I do wonder if it is that they are male dominated in terms of story and characters, at least that is my strong impression. While I don’t mind reading books with male leads, being female I of course gravitate towards stories told from that perspective or viewpoint. I don’t think that is unusual. Maybe I should do some research and see if there are books that might fit in the ‘Western with a female lead character and POV’ available. At this stage I think they – Westerns – will stay on the periphery of my blindspot.
And lastly to Romance, a much maligned genre. I did read one or two when I was younger but the quality wasn’t good and I suspect I wasn’t old enough to appreciate some aspects of the stories. So I pretty much forgot about them for many years. But with my increased focus on reading and my attempts to broaden my horizons I am now actively looking for some Romance books to consume. And this is where it gets difficult – knowing where to look for good quality Romance content. At the moment I am relying on recommendations from trusted sources – BookTubers I whose opinion I respect and reading podcasts I follow. I am in no hurry but I am hoping to read at least a couple before the year is out. I would be satisfied with that. Baby steps you understand.
So what is the upshot of all that? What at this very moment are my genre blindspots?
Fantasy – all good … no longer being ignored. Science Fiction – maybe … possibly. Gritty Crime/Thrillers – still confined to the dark and not going to change that position. Westerns – in all honesty … not likely to make any progress soon. Romance – eagerly awaiting it’s debut.
I think there is enough to move forward with.
Happy reading everyone!
(Header Image: Negative Space)