Hey y’all! I just started a book for my book club this month and it was making me think about reasons that I’ll read a book I might not usually try. In this case, it’s a book that I had my eye on when it originally came out, but I was on the fence with.
On the one hand, Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi intrigued me with its basic premise of a time-traveling cafe with very precise rules. On the other hand, I’ve read other literary works by Japanese authors that weren’t really my favorite (looking at you, 1Q84!) and worry this might end up in the same vein (though I don’t want that to come across as generalizing all Japanese authors of course — it just seemed like this might have the same kind of vibe).
But here I am reading it, because my book club chose it for a pick! I actually voted for it as well, because I wanted to have a reason to give it a chance. When we were debating if we should do just book one, or the first two since they’re fairly short, I was super blunt and said I’d just read the first and if I liked it would try the second, but no guarantee. Everyone laughed and agreed and we settled on reading the first for sure and maybe the second.
So here I’m thinking about other reasons that I might try a book outside my usual and wanted to see if y’all had anything that’s pushed you as well (and if it was worth it or not!!).
Of course! The in person one that started all of this is an example of course, but I also have Aardvark Book Club as a subscription that has had me try some I would not otherwise have tried or maybe even heard about. Most recently, I finished How to Turn Into a Bird by María José Ferrada and while my first impression upon finishing was just ?????? I did enjoy it and am glad I read it. And there’s some interesting discussion about it in the Aardvark app! Anyway, that’s just an example.
Finding a cheap used book
I will often go to some of my favorite second hand bookshops with the express intent of buying books I’ve never heard of and maybe wouldn’t usually look at. When a book is a dollar or a few dollars and supporting a good cause, I’m usually willing to give it a shot when I might not usually! Some on my shelf from this are Inland by Tea Obreht and The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama.
Whether it’s reading by a certain author demographic (from a certain country, LGBTQ, BIPOC, etc), or bookish bingo, or any other kind of reading challenge, these often have prompts that can open me up to books I wouldn’t otherwise have seen or tried. Even if the challenge itself isn’t one that might inherently move me in various directions, seeing what other people read to meet the prompts can get me curious!
Browsing random displays at the library
Like nonfiction! I went CRAZY with nonfiction reading last year (by my standards anyway) and a lot of that was thanks to just checking out the displays the library had up! I would never know what to look for in nonfiction without that guidance, and I’ve found some awesome books that way (Exhibit A: Review: Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori. Exhbit B: Review: The Office BFFs by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey).