It's Top 10 Tuesday again! This time, we're discussing books that required us to step out of our comfort zone to even pick them up and inspect their cover, whether because of genre, author, or subject matter. I must say, I started life as the rabidly Fundamentalist Pentecostal daughter of a Pentecostal pastor and his wife, so pretty much every book I read that wasn't overtly Christian took me out of my comfort zone to some extent until I changed churches. However, a few examples really stand out in my mind. I push myself to leave my comfort zone more often these days.
10. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
I've loved mysteries since about 5th grade, but I had never really gone in for the classic, hard-bitten, "It was a dark and stormy whatever in the city by the fill-in-the-blank" type, so this was my first attempt at the fringes of that subgenre. Let's just say I wasn't enamored.
9. Loves Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark
Once again, I tend more toward cozies than the whole "joys of writing grisly mysteries about lunatic serial killers" thing, but I liked this one moderately well.
8. The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber
Hate most romances with a searing, fire-breathing passion that is hotter than the flame of 1,000 suns. That's pretty much all there is to say, and surely it reveals why I was reticent to take on Debbie Macomber. I LOVE Blossom Street, however, and all its denizens. And I can't really even knit! (I try to knit occasionally, but I'm really a crocheter.)
7. Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson
If you read my previous statement about romance novels, you're probably REALLY surprised that THIS one is on my list. But I adore the story of Robin Hood almost as much as I hate romances, so I decided to make an exception to my rule and give this one a try. Besides, I needed a thick book to help me finish a library summer reading challenge. It wasn't bad. It wasn't great. Life goes on.
6. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
I just had a feeling from the first time I glanced at the cover of this book that it wouldn't really be my cup of tea, but eventually I gave in, because I just had to know what all the hubbub was about. And my reaction? It wasn't really my cup of tea.
5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Ridiculous true story about me and this book. My tiny little Fundamentalist Christian school decided when I was in 8th grade that they would start a reading club for all us bookish types, and they chose this book for their first selection. I was simply appalled! Witches?! Telepathy?!? Flying centaurs?!?! This book was clearly rife with pagan witchcraft! What could the administration be THINKING? I made the kind of stink about it that I had been taught was somehow a Christian act of mercy in such circumstances, as I'd been brought up to believe that it was my responsibility to try to show everyone else that they were doing something wrong. (Yeah, I used to be one of those obnoxious "BAN HARRY POTTER!" people, too. Mea culpa. Seriously. I was an annoying little pissant.) Some fifteen years later, I finally read this series. I thought the bad guy at the end of this first one was a stupid choice on the author's part, but otherwise, I really liked them.
4. The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice
If Wrinkle in Time set off my sirens and red flags, you can only IMAGINE how I viewed Anne Rice, all her pomp and all her works. When I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and stopped believing that 4/5 of humanity was going to Hell in a handbasket, I penanced myself to read this book as a way to stop being such a pontificating, pedantic prick. I thought the book sucked and generally insulted my intelligence, but I don't think it endangered my soul.
3. The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf
The reason this book required me to step outside my comfort zone is that I typically find botany a very dull subject. Still, I'm a complete and total Anglophile (as if my regular readers don't know that!), I knew the "Empire" referred to in the subtitle was the Brits, and the cover was pretty, so when I saw it on display at the library, I picked it up. And loved it. The author is a bit too rabid in how she states her atheism to suit me, but other than that, it was wonderful.
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This was my first experience with a true horror novel, but after a couple of years to recover, I've decided not to allow it to prejudice me against the entire genre.
1. Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The ultimate nightmare book for a Fundamentalist Pentecostal to be assigned to read in a college literature class, but that's exactly what happened to me. (For those who may be unaware, many Pentecostals believe that you really can sell your soul to Satan if you're stupidly determined enough to do so. Therefore, this novel utterly terrified me.) I remember hating it, but I don't know if that was entirely about religious prejudices, or if there was some evaluation of its literary merit mixed up in that, as well. I doubt I'll ever try it again to find out, though, because it was damn depressing, either way.
Well, I just read back over this post. Cheerful little number, isn't it? Here's some sweetness and light to make you smile on your way to the next site.