The seventh category for the 2017 Reading Challenge—for those of you who want to put the “oomph” back in your reading life—is “a book in a genre you usually avoid.”
Some readers read more widely than others, but most of us fall into grooves—often without even realizing it. This category asks you to first notice which genres you typically read, and then choose something out of the ordinary.
If you’ve been meaning to try something new but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet, here’s your chance.
Since we all have different reading habits, I can’t provide a list of books you should read for this category. Instead, I’m sharing a list of favorites culled from various popular genres, from my own reading list, and from the titles you have shared.
Tharp's life revolves around an arsenal of routines because, as she says, "a dancer's life is all about repetition." This conversational book is all about setting the bones—the day-to-day structure—of a creative life. (I only just found out she wrote a follow-up: The Collaborative Habit is on my to-read stack right now.) More info →
Habits can be built, and they can be changed. Duhigg explores the science that explains how in this readable book, and explains how to put these methods into practice in your own life. His methods and insights give you the know-how to put this information to use. More info →
Vanderkam's no-nonsense, no-excuses approach to time management just might convince you that you actually have time to accomplish anything you really want to do, when you focus on your core competencies and stop frittering away your time. To get the most out of this book you must do the time diary exercise. More info →
Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew were stranded on the Antarctic ice for 20 months beginning in January 1915. Alexander's story (which is named for Shackleton's ship) is compiled largely from the journals of Shackleton's 27-man crew and contains jawdropping photos by the expedition's photographer. Spellbinding. More info →
K2 is slightly shorter than Mt. Everest, but it's far more deadly: for every four climbers who have summited, one has died trying. In August 2008, a series of disasters—avalanches, ice falls, broken safety ropes—contributed to the deaths of a record 11. Miraculously, two Sherpas survived. This book chronicles the disaster from the Sherpas' perspective, and brings their fascinating history to life. A must-read for anyone who loved Into Thin Air. Riveting. More info →
I didn't think I was interested in the story of a racehorse, but after devouring Unbroken, I trusted Hillenbrand to take me on a remarkable ride, no matter the topic. She masterfully weaves together the stories of a knock-kneed racehorse and the three men who made him a champion: a bookish half-blind jockey, an eccentric trainer, and a limelight-loving owner. An incredible tale. More info →
In this real-life medical drama, New York Post reporter Cahalan is hospitalized when she literally loses her mind. $1 million dollars worth of tests later, her doctors have no idea what's wrong with her—until her personal Dr. House joins the team and makes the diagnosis. Cahalan recovers, remembering nothing: she uncovered the material for this memoir by interviewing friends, family, and her medical team, reviewing her medical records, and watching hospital security videotapes of herself. More info →
This easy reading memoir is part comedy, part auto-biography. Fey covers a lot of ground here: from her Pennsylvania childhood to her awkward college years, her crappy job at the YMCA to the big leagues of SNL. Filled with funny and fascinating anecdotes, like what a photo shoot is really like, and how she finally nailed Sarah Palin’s precise lip color shade. Fast and fun. More info →
Walls, a former New York gossip columnist, reveals the hardscrabble past she carefully hid for years in this family memoir, which centers on her charasmatic but highly dysfunctional parents: a father with "a little bit of a drinking situation" and a mother who was an "excitement addict," who moved their family all over the country, seeking the next big adventure. Walls spins a good story out of her bad memories. More info →
My 6th grade son is currently reading this book in his English literature class. He wasn't excited about reading "that boring book." His 9-year-old sister said, "I'm glad I don't have to read it." One week later, they're fighting over it. That's all I have to say about that—except you don't have to be a grade schooler to enjoy this one. It's a classic for a reason. More info →
What you need to know: The New York Times called this modern classic "Hogwarts for grown-ups" and it's a hefty 1024 pages. Reading it is an investment, but you won't be sorry. (Or so I hear: it's on my TBR list.) More info →
Munro is the best—or perhaps the best-known—short story writer of our time. This collection, released last December, gathers two dozen of Munro's stories written between 1995 and 2014. Munro is unquestionably good at her craft: her realistic stories are poignant and piercing, which is why I find them difficult to read. More info →
This short story collection by the author of Americanah was first published in 2009. In these 12 stories, the Nigerian author writes about America, exploring, as she says, "the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States." More info →
If you want to get started with Tolstoy without reading War and Peace (1296 pages) or even Anna Karenina (864 pages), look no further.This compilation includes 8 of Tolstoy's finest short works (some longer than short stories), including The Death of Ivan Ilych, which many consider to be his best work. More info →
What genres do YOU typically read, and what are you reading (or thinking about reading) for this category of the reading challenge?