How to read science fiction or other genre fiction even if you don’t want to.

It’s happened-the moment you’ve been dreading.






Your wife, husband, son, cousin, or co-worker asked you to read a chapter of their science fiction, high fantasy, romance, or vampire novel. Now what do you do? You’re a decent person, and you don’t want to or can’t afford to hurt their feelings. But, genre fiction stories are weird.  You’ve never read any because you really don’t want to. Sure, you read fiction: murder mysteries, adventures, generic bestsellers. Normal stuff.

I understand. Well-meaning people come to me all the time with suggestions.  When they say, “You really should read this best seller, this YA novel, this non-fiction autobiography,” I always smile and nod. Inside I cringe. No WAY I’m ever going to read that book. I am a very discriminating reader, I tell myself. My time is limited, and I simply don’t want to invest the effort in something that sounds boring or ridiculous.

However, even I, a self-confessed reading snob, occasionally step out of my comfort zone. Some of the recommended books are still not my cup of tea, but some are fascinating and beautifully written, and I fall in love with a new author.  My friends are happy I took their advice, and I’ve stretched my limits. Everybody wins.

Here’s my advice on reading genre fiction.

Suspend your disbelief.

Science fiction has many faces. Hard science fiction follows natural laws. Relativity rules. Character driven space opera laughs at relativity.

Fantasy trumps all natural laws.

Vampires suck the life out of natural laws.

Romance novels usually have happy ending. Girl gets boy-if she wants him.

Go ahead. Read something different. You know you want to. OK, maybe not. But, you never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.

When was the last time you read outside of your comfort zone?



3 thoughts on “How to read science fiction or other genre fiction even if you don’t want to.”

  1. “When was the last time you read outside of your comfort zone?” That’s a good question, and has made me think about my own reading habits. But I really don’t think I could bring myself to read a vampire novel!

  2. I read everything! Even vampire novels. 😉
    I get a kick out of seeing how storytelling rules work in different genres, since the basics (protag vs antag etc…) apply in all stories. I even read bad novels (50 Shades of Grey comes to mind) to try and figure out what makes this story so weak, and could I, or even would I, fix it?

    That said, if I could find one kind of book that was consistently great, I would probably stick with just that genre. Nothing beats a really mind blowing read!

  3. I’ll admit…I’ve never been a lover of genre, but you’re right…a prolific reader can learn to love just about anything! Romance I do like. I’ve read a bunch, and no matter what, the formula doesn’t bore me.

    Ray Bradbury constitutes SciFi, and I like him!

    Great blog. I’m now following 🙂

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