New year, new genre: reading recommendations to ease you out of your comfort zone
Curated suggestions for genre devotees.
Let's start with a disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with being a genre aficionado. You are not in a 'reading rut', you're in your biblio-haven and you'll find no quarrel here. However, if you are looking to stretch your literary legs in the new year, we're ready to help you find something that you'll genuinely want to try. This list of recommendations is designed to shift your reading in a different direction based on what you already like, expanding on your comfort zone rather than completely abandoning it, to make sure you find something you really enjoy.
Not Aloneis ecologist Sarah K Jackson’s debut novel, set in a world devastated by a toxic storm.Deep Wheel Orcadia has both feet firmly in science fiction (it won the 2022 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Book of the Year), but pushes the boundaries of the genre with its form: a verse-novel written in the Orkney dialect (with parallel English translation). Or you could turn to the classics: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is the mother of all science fiction (and, coincidentally, a book about the potential expendability of mothers).
Incorporate a little dark academia with The Atlas Six: unbelievably attractive magicians fight for a place in the Alexandrian Society, switching loyalties and lust objects as they go. Or take a look at singer-songwriter PJ Harvey’s narrative poem Orlam, which draws on the rituals, children’s songs, chants and superstitions of the rural West Country of England.
Try some thrilling non-fiction with forensic search and rescue expert Peter Faulding in What Lies Beneathor investigative journalist Patrick Raddon Keefe in The Snakehead, or try some literary fiction: Now I Am Hereby Chidi Ebere is an unflinching exploration of how good people can do terrible things. The Other Side of Nightis by an established thriller writer and features a disgraced ex-detective and three unexplained deaths. To articulate precisely why it will stretch crime and thriller fans out of their comfort zone would be to spoil the dizzying mystery at the heart of the book, so please just take my word for it (and read it, immediately).
Discover the extraordinary true story of how the Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship, was found in the most hostile sea on Earth in The Ship Beneath the Ice. Or try a new type of reading experience: based on Antonio Iturbe’s novel of the same name, The Librarian of Auschwitzis a powerful introduction to graphic novels.
The Lamplightersis inspired by the true story of three keepers who vanished from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore, while We Had to Remove This Postoffers 'a glimpse of the fetid underbelly of the internet' (The Times).