Do you keep getting told (like it was a good thing) to "get out of your comfort zone", or is that just happening to me? Personally, I have taken a month of Sundays and a good few decades to create said comfort zones, especially the bookish one. But lately there has been pressure from all sides to break the mould. Here's how it is shaping up in the reading department:
In a Reader's Challenge involving my library team, I drew the least wanted slip of paper out of the hat: Westerns. That is correct - those novels with horses (not a fan), booted men with flinty eyes, Indians all painted up and looking war-like, tavern ladies and sweet wholesome wives. Nothing there for me then. But I have to know more, I have to read at least one a month. I closed my eyes and picked one at random: Sorrel Moon by Cotton Smith who is a Spur Award Winning Author. The book is in memory of Chief Swift Eagle - say no more. There is a man blinded by a wild horse, an outlaw posing as a man of God who goes by the name of Glory Van Camp (!!!!), a tough bar wench, a strong wife and a Chinaman - but no Indians. Actually Cotton Smith writes well and has a lot of fun with naming things. I think I got lucky here - it could have been much worse.
Next up is a book that a good friend swore I would love. "It's about the rewilding of wolves in England" she added ... and your point is? I wanted to say. That's the problem with friends recommending books that they have loved - it calls into question not only their reading tastes, but also (if you are in a downward turning mood) the very friendship itself. But we escaped calamity with this recommendation and I am going to pay it forward to you. Because strewth, The Wolf Border is a mighty fine book by Sarah Hall. It's really out of my comfort zone - not so interested in wolves, nor socio-political themes for that matter, but it turns out to be a multi-layered, intelligent, gripping story in which the parallel threads of wolf rehabilitation and personal development are played out in moody Cumbrian England. We interviewed Sarah in 2008.
Finally, it is festival time. Auckland Writers Festival 2016 is upon us and there is no better place to mess with a comfort zone than at a festival, where everything that is presented is good to brilliant, the authors are there to inspire, and you feel like a newly charged version of your tired old reading self.
So, bring on the random choices and the serendipitous finds, and ta-ta for now to my reading comfort zone.