Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Enjoyed that are Out of My Comfort Zone

Thanks to That Artsy Reader Girl for another great Top Ten Tuesday prompt!

Indiana’s Five

This is a tricky one for me because I don’t really have a comfort zone when it comes to reading. I will pick up most books if they interest me. 

The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum. This book combined history, chemistry and politics in equal measure, which I hadn’t really encountered before.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. First of all, it’s a doorstopper of a book. Secondly, the narrative can be tricky to follow and the diction forced me to use a dictionary (which was fun).
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. In the past, I’ve struggled with some of Woolf’s essays. They either felt too dense or tedious. However, I breezed through this one.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I’ve read other Saunders stories, though none quite like this. It’s a difficult narrative to follow if you don’t know too much about the back story (or the Tibetan Book of the Dead) but it’s definitely a rewarding and intense story.

Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson. I’ve never read very much about paleontology and this book leaned heavily on that subject, which was good, though challenging.  

Pete’s Five

My normal fare is fantasy and contemporary fiction, and I tend to struggle with historical fiction and romances—but there have been a few exceptions that really blew me away! 

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. I’m not much of a foodie, so I don’t read much food writing. In fact, this is the first work of food writing I’ve ever read. And while it’s more of a memoir, I still enjoyed Reichl’s deep appreciation for good food and the place it holds in her life.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. I am particularly wary of books about disillusioned middle-aged men, but Major Pettigrew manages to make the character type endearing. While the main story is fairly predictable, this story was filled with a handful of surprises.

Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen. I first learned of this book back in high school and spent years trying to find a used copy to pick up. I finally found one, but it sat on my shelf for too long and at some point I decided it fell into the category of “cheesy fiction.” When I finally read it recently, it was cheesy, but I had a lot of fun with it.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. The Vietnam War is a part of history I know embarrassingly little about, and I’ve never made an effort to correct that. But this noir-style frame story was a fascinating history lesson filled with complex characters.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Aside from True Grit, I’ve read very few Westerns. I associate the genre with giant tomes and long, slow rides on horseback. But this proved to be a short, fast-paced adventure with characters I will never forget.

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