January 14, 2011

Read Outside Your Comfort Zone Challenge: Recommendations?

Just over a week ago I posted about the "Read Outside Your Comfort Zone" Challenge I'm hosting this year. The goal is to stretch your reading limits a little bit and try something new! Anyway, I came up with several categories of books that aren't my typical reads, including vampire books, non-fiction, adult fiction, PoC novels, and very light/fluffy contemp YA.

Well, since then I keep thinking of more types of books I tend not to read (I never really realized I limited myself quite this much until I actually thought about it!) Here are some new groups I'm adding to my list:

- Short stories. I generally steer clear of anthologies of short stories, as they've always seemed a little too - well, short - for my tastes. But I'm willing to try some more!

- Graphic novels. I'm not too familiar with what's out there in this category. I've heard the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman is good, so I might try that one.

- Novels in verse. I know some YA readers love these but reading an entire story in poetry form (poetry that doesn't rhyme, either) has always seemed a little strange to me. But the premises of some of these novels sound so fabulous that I think I shouldn't let something like its format stand in the way.

- Books with male protagonists. These are few and far between in YA anyway, but though I do prefer a female protag I know I should give these more of a chance!

- Middle grade novels. I don't tend to read these anymore, but sometimes I think I'm missing out on some great stories because of it.

- Sci-fi. Traditional sci-fi usually just plain doesn't interest me, and often requires a level of scientific or technical understanding that I don't have. But are there any YA sci-fi books that aren't quite so demanding, or are a little bit different? I'm thinking of trying Across the Universe by Beth Revis, because that seems to be a real combination of genres and has already gotten lots of positive reviews.

So, fearless readers — are there any books you absolutely love and think I should read that fall into any of the above (bolded) categories? Have a graphic novel you hold dear or a novel in verse you've fallen in love with? Is there a sci-fi or middle grade novel you want to rave about? Tell me what I'm missing out on here!

And of course I am still looking for courageous souls to join me in this challenge! You can read all about it and sign up by either clicking the challenge tab at the top of the page or going to the original post HERE. There are all sorts of levels so you can choose whichever you feel up to. I would love to have some company as I brave my reading limits, and then at the end get your thoughts on what it was like to try something new! :D


  1. I am thinking about taking you up on this challenge

  2. Here are a few suggestions (hopefully you haven't already read them!)

    -Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    -Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
    -My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
    -Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
    -Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

  3. I would suggest "Feed" by M.T. Anderson if you haven't read it already. It has a male protagonist. It isn't what I would call "traditional" sci-fi, but it's got some aspects...lots of futuristic technology. It's very good.

    I might also suggest "Girl Overboard" by Justina Chen Headley as it is contemporary YA. Kirkus says: "Headley brings Chinese history, the implications of wealth, and the power of self-acceptance into soft focus..." I haven't finished it yet, but I picked it up because of your challenge! The main character is a snow-boarder, and I usually don't read about sports. I also don't read very many stories written by/about people of color, and I would like to rectify that.

  4. Sci-Fi:
    Mortal Engines Quartet by Philip Reeve
    & Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

    Middle Grade:
    Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie / After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

  5. Middle Grade: Knightley Academy
    Light Fluffy YA: The Grimm Legacy
    Verse: Heaven Looks A Lot Like the Mall <--The only one I like!
    Manga (if you consider that a graphic novel): Boys Over Flowers, Full Moon Wo Sagashite, Hana Kimi
    Sci-fi: You can never go wrong with a little Star Wars novel! Try The Courtship of Princess Leia!

    If I were to think about my reading limits, I think there would be a lot! You're braver than me undertaking this challenge!

  6. For very light/fluffy contemporary YA, I just finished reading Boys, Bears, and a Sturdy Pair of Hiking Boots and it was pretty cute. If you want a funnier and silly read, I would recommend the Georgia Nicolson series or Withering Heights by Louise Rennison. I adore her writing voice!

    For graphic novels I really recommend Japanese manga, there are so many amazing series out there. One of my favorites is Kieli, it's a bit gory and so heartbreakingly sad, but amazing! Or Millenium Snow, it's a vampire/werewolf story with great humor. My recent love is Dengeki Daisy, the heroine is unbelievably awesome.

    I hope you find a ton of great reads through this challenge. :D

  7. How about one of Lisa Schrieder's books for a verser novel. She has written three I believe. I don't read too many books with male protagonists either but a couple I've read and liked are The Limit by Kirstin Landon (also a middle grade read)and The Replacement by Brenna Yonanoff.

  8. If you don't like most traditional Sci Fi, then you might try Ray Bradbury. Most of his books aren't highly technical and he is a fabulous story-teller!

  9. Thanks everyone for the suggestions! My list for this challenge is growing...

  10. This is such a great challenge and I think I'll have to look into participating as well. It's always a great idea to branch out in genres.


    Fluffy YA: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is a MUST. It's sweet, and funny, and absolutely heartwarming. *insert more gushing here*
    Sci-fi: Not sure how you feel about Stephenie Meyer, but there's her novel The Host. I really enjoyed it, but I'm also a Twilight fan so I know it's not for everyone. ;)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've returned the follow and I look forward to seeing what you read for the challenge!

    Stephanie @ Poetry to Prose

  11. Do you realize you have awakened a sleeping monster here? :P I'll try to restrain myself!

    For sci-fi and short stories:
    -Ray Bradbury
    -Rod Serling (of The Twilight Zone. He wrote short stories of many of the episodes)
    -Isaac Asimov (a little drier sometimes, but still good)

    If you liked The Uglies series, then you'll probably find some things to love out of Rod Serling (and a very familiar episode). Ray Bradbury is one of my all time favorite short story authors, and I don't usually like short stories at all. He's amazing and while it's science fiction, it's not very "science-y"

    Other short stories:
    -Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I <3 Holmes)
    -The Birds by Daphne du Maurier (awesomely scary and even better than the movie!)

    Vampire Books:
    -Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (not your average vampire story)
    -I am Legend by Richard Matheson (also not your average vamp story, much better than the movies)
    -Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde

    Adult Fiction:
    -The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
    -The Seance by John Harwood
    -The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
    -Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    Books with Male Protag/Sci-fi:
    -The Cat trilogy by Joan D. Vinge (begins with Psion) I love Cat!

    Ok, ok, I'm going to stop now. :)

  12. Great idea! I haven't read it yet but I've heard that Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman is a great YA book with a male protagonist.

    Also, I've awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award over at my blog- congratulations! To find out more go directly to the award post here:http://bestfriends-books.blogspot.com/2011/01/stylish-blogger-award-x3.html

  13. What a great challenge! I have some recommendations too! For graphic novels, I really, really enjoyed Bone by Jeff Smith, and the Fables series published by Vertigo, and Blankets by Craig Thompson. For novels in verse, The Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Sandell was absolutely lovely. I'm so picky about the vampire books that are out there but the Vampire Academy series really took me by surprise, and Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey was also a great read. Good luck with your challenge! :)

  14. This looks a lot like our Branching Out Challenge! We wanted to push ourselves as well. Best of luck and happy reading.

  15. Bradbury suggestions: I Sing the Body Electric and The Martian Chronicles.

    I see that someone else mentioned Isaac Asimov. If you go for him, I would actually suggest his robot novels (Caves of Steel or Robots of Dawn).

    Oh, and Arthur C Clarke...Tales of the White Hart.

  16. Haha you're welcome! The Veldt was in his short story collection The Illustrated Man, which I definitely recommend. That story is scary! But don't worry, not all of his stories are scary.

    Also, his book The Martian Chronicles is really great. It's sort of a novel told in a bunch of separate but related short stories. It's really powerful, I think.

    Ooh, I just remembered, Henry Kuttner is another good short story/sci fi writer. Try his collection The Last Mimzy.

    Hm, return the favor....well, I'm too swamped and reluctant to read outside my comfort zone, but if you have any recommendations within my comfort zone I'd love to hear them. We both like Crown Duel, so if you know of any books like that one I'd appreciate the rec. :)

  17. For novels with verse, I'd look at Lisa Schroeder's books or check out Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams.

    As for MG, I've heard Selling Hope by Kristin O'Donnell or The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little is pretty good.

  18. Oh, another book rec for you-- City of Masks by Mary Hoffman. It has a male protagonist who is suffering from cancer and eventually finds himself in this alternate version of Italy called Talia. It's a fantasy/Ya novel. The series has other male characters that pop in, but City of Masks in the first book to read in the series.


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