Until a little over year ago, I stuck to my preferred genres as a reader: Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Spy Thrillers. Anything outside of these types generated zero interest. (Except Shakespeare, which I have a fondness for that dates back to a particularly wonderful high school English teacher who happened to be Swedish.) I bluffed my way through the ‘classics’ that were assigned in various high school and college classes, and never looked back after graduation. Nothing else managed to grab my attention long enough to read the entire first page, regardless of how well written or appealing it might have been.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach. With all the billions (or more) of books out there, sticking to a preferred genre is one type of filter to apply in selecting one’s reading material.
Then I published a book, and then I discovered that a good way to help get a book noticed it to have people review it. One of the ways this can happen is by joining groups where you read and review other peoples’ books in exchange for getting reviews of your own. I try to stick to groups where no one directly reviews each other to avoid situations where anybody feels compelled to reciprocate a particular number of stars (for good or ill).
As a result of participating in such groups, I found myself tasked with reading all sorts of stuff I wouldn’t ordinarily touch with a ten foot pole. Or even a twenty foot pole. Strangely enough, being “forced” to read these books showed me a strange thing: I actually liked some of them. Certainly, long-time readers know that I occasionally have a bad review to pass along, and they tend to come from books acquired in this or similar ways.
Still. This situation led me to read my first non-paranormal romance that I liked. I read some chick lit that I liked. I read a zombie story that I liked (I know, zombies are either urban fantasy or sci-fi, but I’d never met one I liked in novel format until Slow Burn & Dead Drunk.). I read a straight-up mystery that I liked.
My tastes and horizons have been broadened, and I will now try anything for at least one chapter. If you’re wedded to a genre, I recommend picking something up by random once in a while and giving it a shot. You never know what will tickle your fancy until you try it.