Tuesday, 16 February 2016

TOP 10 OUT-OF-OUR-COMFORT-ZONE BOOKS

If there's a bookish equivalent of a blanket fort, it's the Comfort Zone. It's that genre we dash to when things get dicey in other genres. It's the age category which best suits whatever age we think we are inside. It's a fortification of pillows and plush and wool where nothing can hurt us.

You know the Comfort Zone. We either have it or we are in denial about having it.

Those who have come to embrace it as we have also learned to occasionally leave it. (Don't try this at home, kids.) It's a scary, scary world out there, but the blanket fort gets too hot and the air too stale, and we crab-crawl out for some fresh air and a pick-me-up.

Sometimes it works out in our favor.

These ten books are the most representative of those times.






1. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Picked by: Natalie

If you know me, you'll be aware that anything remotely scary isn't for me. I'm a wimp when it comes to anything horror, and I know this isn't horror per se, but it's quite gory. So I decided one Halloween to read this to scare myself, and I ended up enjoying it more than I thought. The Murder Complex was exciting, thrilling and had a really intriguing storyline. There is a lot of death in this one, however, so be aware if you do pick it up. If the title isn't enough to tell you, that is. But I'm glad I went out of my comfort zone for this one. 



2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Picked by: Lexie

I know, I know. Since my Ready Player One days I have evolved into a mild sci-fi fiend. And, mild sci-fi fiend that I now am, it seems ridiculous that I should include a science fiction title on this list. Said science fiction title has nevertheless earned its place on here by introducing me to the many wonders of sci-fi. After some harrowing (not to mention dull) experiences with no-name fifty-cent sci-fi books procured at library sales, I was hesitant to so much as approach the genre. Many a cookie was turned down. I have yet to watch Star Wars. (Don't hurt me, I bruise like a peach.) I was well and truly a newbie to all things sci-fi. But Ready Player One appealed to the ex-gamer-Lexie and to the dystopian-appreciator-Lexie and to contest-loving-Lexie and to pop-culture-referencing-Lexie and to many other facets of my Lexieness in such a way that Sci-fi-Lexie just kinda snuck up on us. And she's been a member of the club ever since. (Me, myself, and my many personalities. It's a ball.)



3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Picked by: Natalie

You're probably thinking that this is a weird one to put on here but there's a reason behind it. I knew the writing style was going to be quite different than the usual YA books I read, so I had to concentrate more than usual (if that makes any sense). Not to mention, there was a bit of pressure to like it so I was a bit worried about disliking such a popular book. Also, the content of the story was very different to what I was reading at that time. When I read this, I was in more of a 'easy, simple and sappy' mood, so this was a real change. I'm glad I did try it, though. It was enjoyable!



4. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Picked by: Lexie

Every once in awhile, I venture into the scary award-winning side of the library. Mostly I do a quick, dangerous and highly illegal U-turn and make a mad dash back to safety. But every now and then, an award-winning novel will spark my interest. (By which I mean, when I imagine myself reading it, I don't imagine my high school teacher forcing me at gunpoint.) Brown Girl Dreaming - being one of those rare gems written by a woman of color, about a particularly fascinating turning point in the American history, in verse, and from a YA perspective, was practically shouting my name. And it was one of the only times I can remember crying through a book not because it was sad, but because it was beautiful. Well and truly... beautiful. I was handed something much different than what I expected, and I enjoyed every second of it.



5. Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens

Picked by: Natalie

This was the first NA book I read, and I have no idea what made me read it. At that point, I was only reading YA books like Divergent, The Hunger Games and anything dystopian. I guess I was finding the same old to be a bit tedious, so I thought I'd try something new. Somehow I came across this one - a story involving sex, coffee and rock 'n' roll. Why not try something different and completely the opposite of my normal reading? Naturally, I found it a tad daunting to begin with and not sure what to expect, but I got into it. Two weeks later, I've read the first two books and anticipating book three's release! I adore this series, even though it does involve something people don't usually like to read about. It's just a story with such lovable characters. 



6. Locke & Key by Joe Hill

Picked by: Lexie

When it comes to graphic novels and comics, I have sinned. I have sinned really, really hard. Until last year, I didn't know a difference between graphic novels and comic books, and I thought they were all synonymous with manga. (I suggest patting me lightly on the head, calling me a noob and sending me on my merry way. Condescension is easier than outrage on the nerves.) So I tiptoed into Joe Hill's Locke and Key with all the enthusiasm of a kid in a dentist's office. Except, you know, it wasn't a dentist's office - it was a candy store. A really brutal, kind of bloody, scary, beautiful, gothic candy store. Which is just the way I like my candy. So it all worked out perfectly. And I've been making up for lost time ever since, as far as my budget will allow.



7. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Picked by: Natalie

I reeeeeeeeeeally feel uncomfortable reading books about illnesses, so this one was obviously going to be a tricky one for me to read. As a hypochondriac, this is the worst type of book for me to go into, but I finally got around to it! I read this one quite late, and sadly it's not a book I'm fond of, but I'm glad I did get out of that comfy spot and read something that's not usually for me. Since then, I have read other books that involve stories a bit like this, and other things that make me a bit weary. 



8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Picked by: Lexie

In freshman year of high school, my classmates and I formed this club. It was done in hushed tones on dodgy street corners and in dark alleys behind bowling alleys. The deal was that each of us would tackle one massive book in our required reading list for school, take bulletpoint notes of major events and characters, and pass them around for everyone else to read. (Apparently, we had never heard of cliffnotes or the internet at the time, which is weird considering this was a few short years ago. But go with it. We were uninformed, on top of illiterate.) As a good samaritan, and so people would owe me their souls, I chose the first on the agenda - the dreaded Anna Karenina in all its 900+ pages of Russian glory. And I... loved it. It was by far more eventful than my fourteen year-old brain had come to expect, it featured a morally dubious heroine and a really beautiful, haunting story. In the end, my classmates still owed me their souls. But I also ended up reading all subsequent books on my own, too. (They could never pay me back and they owe me forever. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.)



9. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Picked by: Natalie

The reason I put this one in the list is because it's historical (I mean, it's not set hundreds of years  go, but it's not contemporary, either). I'm never a big fan of books set in the past, and especially those which center around something so harsh and real, so I was hesitant about reading it. We got sent this book as an ARC - and it's the first ever physical ARC we received, yay! - and I wasn't going to put off reading it due to its content. I sped through it and I ended up really enjoying it. Robin has such a great way of storytelling, and I found myself more interested in the subject of the matter than before reading it. It's also the first LGBT book that I've read, so that was also intriguing. I think the mix of that diversity and the strong storyline really made it such a fascinating book  to discover.



10. Easy by Tammara Webber

Picked by: Lexie

New Adult is that one summer fling I had which I prefer not to talk about. It was hot and heavy while it lasted. It looked good after five cocktails on the beach. I always had to squint so the sun wouldn't get in my eyes, so I never looked too closely at it until the summer was over. And when I finally did... Well, like I said. I prefer not to talk about it. Because once we transitioned from a summer flirtation to meaningful conversations, New Adult and I realized we had nothing in common. But I will always remember that one time - the one informative conversation we had, when NA wowed me with its progressive views and its unbiased attitude towards women and its willingness to discuss the rape culture in the US. It shared my views, it tackled the subject gracefully, and its name is Easy by Tammara Webber. New Adult and I have long since parted ways, but Easy will stay with me as one of the highlights of that summer fling.





Talk to us, pumpkins! Do you have a comfort zone (and if so, what is it?). What is the best book you've found outside said blanket fort? We're recommendation fiends! We'd love to add more to our list, for those times we brave the mad, mad world out there beyond our fort. Leave us a comment below, or find us on social media. (Or, preferably, both. We're low-maintenance like that.)


9 comments:

  1. Ohhhhh but the blanket fort is so comforting! In either year 8 or 9 I did venture out and went on a classics binge (fourteen-year-old-me was a strange creature). Hated Gatsby, loved Tess of the D'urbervilles, etc, etc.

    One of these days I want to attack Les Miserables.

    One day...

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    1. Heeeey, my strange fourteen year-old classics-binging self welcomes your strange fourteen year-old classics-binging self into a fourteen year-old classics-binging club! We have cookies and really old books. I've yet to make my way through Tess, though. Weirdly enough it was never in our required reading lists in school. But, hey, you've just motivated me to get around to it eventually!

      GOOD LUCK WITH LES MIS! :O We are here for comfort, support, Nutella-supplies, and CPR/palm-leaf-fanning if necessary. ;)

      - Lexie

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  2. The only one I've read is Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (highly recommended though, definitely read all three). However I've been meaning to read a few books on this list for a while (Ready Player One and The Fault In Our Stars), they sound interesting though. Good Luck with it :)

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    1. I couldn't possibly agree more as far as Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Julia. :) That Natalie picked it up was largely at my incentive. I'm mildly (except obsessively and completely) in love with it.

      Good luck with Ready Player One and TFIOS! :) Both were quite unexpected (and welcome) surprises for me!

      - Lexie

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  3. Hey guys! Loved the post and I can totally agree with you on Easy, New Adult is definitely not for me. I'm hoping to pick up Daughter of Smoke and Bone - hopefully I'll like it! Have a lovely week :)

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    1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is fifty-five kinds of lovely and delicious. BUT it does take a certain weird streak to fully appreciate it. I hope you're weird, Felicia! :)

      New Adult is one difficult beast to conquer. We aren't up to the task anymore. But Easy was a bright spot in an otherwise dubious reading phase, and I'm so happy you agree.

      - Lexie

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  4. GOOD ON YOU BOTH FOR BEING SO ADVENTUROUS! I ... confess...I really like my comfort zone. XD I feel like if I'm going to spend hours on a book, I want it to be something I'm excited to read!! EEP. But. It is good to take risks. *nods sagely* (ALSO SO GLAD YOU TOOK A RISK ON TFIOS, NATALIE. AFJDKLASD I LOVE THAT BOOK.)

    I recently read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and ommmmg. It was SO GOOD. It's about mental illness and it was hysterically honest and funny and really awesome. <3 Usually I stay away from memoirs because, ew, real people. But I'm really glad I broke out of the pillow fort for that one. :')

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    1. THE COMFORT ZONE IS LIFE, basically! We mostly just pretend to be adventurous. This list took a lot more thought and discussion than it looks, all polished and finished. We don't leave the blanket fort enough. (This year I'm doing it monthly by drawing a title from a TBR jar which consists entirely of your non-fantasy recommendations. Since fantasy is my blanket fort. So basically, I owe all my adventurousness to you. Gratitude cake?)

      Furiously Happy looks and sounds soooooo funny! (I mean, DAT COVER, seriously!) That's something to keep in mind the next time we tiptoe outside of the C.Z. and into the harsh oppressiveness of infinite choices. *gulps* At least that one isn't very scary! Right? Right?!

      - Lexie

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  5. Oh! LOVE THIS!!! :) I LOVE books that push me out of my comfort zone.. if I love them. Forbidden was definitely one, I just didn't know how to feel about a book that involved an incestuous relationship. It actually turned out to be a beautifully well written book that touched me so much and also explored mental illness <3 I LOVED IT!

    I also LOVED The Martian which is adult science fiction, not something I ever read. It ended up being absolutely hilarious and I loved it.

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