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Friday, December 27, 2013

I Don't Read That Kind of Book - a guest post by Nobilis Reed

When I was a teenager, like any other guy my age, there was a specific sort of book I wanted to read. Generally speaking, they were science fiction or fantasy novels, a preference which continues to this day, and will likely never change.

What has changed, however, is the conviction that speculative fiction was the only sort of novel I could enjoy, that it was the only kind I would willingly pick up.

Then came "Winter's Tale" by Mark Helprin. While the genre didn't really exist inmy consciousness back then, it was a Magical Realism story when you came right down to it...and it was a Tragic Romance. Before I had read this book, if you had suggested that I would like a romance novel, much less a tragic romance novel, I would have found the idea not just laughable, but incomprehensible. "I don't read that kind of book," I would have said, with some emphasis on the word "that" to make sure you knew what I meant.

But as the tears rolled down my face, late at night, as Peter Lake lost everything that meant anything to him--his horse, his city, his world, his sanity, his love--I realized that while a book like this wasn't fun, it wasgood, and a good book is better than a fun book. I learned that I cared about love, and about friendship, and about connection with the people around me. And I learned that many of the books I was reading really weren't about love and friendship, because in most of them those things weren't threatened.

Of course, being a teenager, that wasn't a lesson that sunk in right away, but there were other books that helped to break down those walls around my nice little protected garden. and I've learned that "I don't read that kind of book" is a defense mechanism. It deflects ideas that might challenge who we think we are, how we think the world works, our relationships with the people around us, and our understanding about how other people think.

And that's not good.

There's a well known TEDTalk by Eli Pariser about the online "filter bubble" that talks about how search engines and social media can blind us to ideas that challenge our personal status quo, but those filter bubbles aren't just online. We can create them in our own heads when we decide "I don't read that kind of book."

So my challenge to you, is to read something outside your stated preferences. If you're a dedicated fan of romance, pick up a good techno-thriller, like "Free Will (and Other Compulsions)" by J. Daniel Sawyer. If your tastes run to the speculative, try a good regency romance like "Trapping a Duchess" by Michele Bekemeyer. If you like the themes commonly found in Young Adult stories, pick up a book with a more mature main character, like "Ravenwood" by Nathan Lowell. I'm not asking you to abandon your preferences--I certainly believe that people should be allowed to have preferences! But it's a good idea for us to poke our noses out of the cosy confines of those preferences once in a while.

We might just learn something.

Bio: A few years ago Nobilis Reed decided to start sharing the naughty little stories he scribbled out in hidden notebooks. To his surprise, people actually liked them! Now, he can’t stop. Symptoms of his condition include several novels, numerous novellas, and dozens of short stories. His wife, teenage children, and even the cats just look on this wretch of a man, hunched over his computer keyboard, and shake their heads. Clearly, there is no hope for him. The best that can be hoped for is to just make him as comfortable as his condition will allow. A full case history for this unfortunate can be found at www.nobiliserotica.com

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