A few days ago, my sisters and I discussed how certain types of books become so much richer when you’re familiar with the tradition from which they emerged. For example, if you’re familiar with folklore and fairy tales, you can spot those roots in afantasy novel, and it enhances the reading experience.
Not that you can’t enjoy the story without it, but you gain something more–something valuable–for the experience you have in a genre.
Yet I can’t help but think we’re also enriched when we go beyond the familiar and enter new literary territory, when we explore new traditions and broaden our perspective. Perhaps a speculative reader might pick up Jane Austen’s novels and grow familiar with the style of Regency fiction. Or a romance reader might explore steampunk, starting with its precursors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Sometimes, of course, the new types of books will not appeal, but other times unexpected favorites will emerge.
At the very least, having both depth and breadth in our reading habits enriches our thinking, and for those of us who write, it makes us stronger writers. So pick up something new and different…the results may surprise you.
What do you think? Have you ventured into new literary territory recently?