New Year, New You at The Frisky has focused on ways to improve our outward appearance by dressing more adventurously, dragging our doughy carcass to spin class, and upping the fabulosity quotient. It’s also explored how to grow in relationships and at work through standing up for ourselves, being more productive, and making the first move. But what about our inner world? After we’ve found the perfect shade of red lipstick, cleaned out our closets, and told a passive-aggressive friend to chill out, what comes next? Well, I propose in 2012 that we try to expose ourselves to newer genres of literature we’ve never experienced before. It’s fine to read the blockbuster novel du jour that make the bestseller list — i.e. The Da Vinci Code, The Pillars of the Earth, The Hunger Games, etc. — but this year, why not try something new?
- Graphic novels. These aren’t “just” comic books — graphic novels are full-fledged novels that are illustrated. Most graphic novels are memoirs, which is an emotionally evocative way to tell a story. I always recommend Blankets by Craig Thompson as a good introductory graphic novel: it’s a love story about a young man raised by strict, pious parent who meets a beautiful, independent spirit at a religious summer camp and comes to question his faith. I cried and you will, too.
- Memoirs. Memoirs can get a bad rap. There was a prevailing sneer during the late ’90s and ’00s that all memoirs were self-indulgent ex-drug addicts or utterly and completely faked. That’s an extremely reductive POV — there are all kinds of memoirs about plenty of different life experiences. Born Round: The Secret History Of A Full-Time Eater, by Frank Bruni, is about a food critic’s struggle with obesity and eating disorders. The Last Of The Live Nude Girls, by Sheila McClear, is a young woman’s experience working in a Times Square peepshow. And if you’re looking for the addiction narrative for which the memoir genre is so famous, Drinking: A Love Story, by Caroline Knapp, about the late author’s struggle with alcoholism, is heart-tugging and beautifully written.
- Science. The last time I gave a crap about science was freshman year of college when I labored through courses required to graduate. And I didn’t really give a crap then, to be honest. These days, I enjoy reading science-related news online occasionally, but in general it’s difficult for me to follow along. Over the summer, however, I tried reading a book about genetics and race — and it turned out to be extremely worthwhile! Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race In The Twenty-First Century, by Dorothy Roberts, is highly accessible for non-scientists and proved to be just as thought-provoking as it looks.
- Gender Studies. You knew I was going to include this, didn’t you? So sue me. Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life, by Samhita Mukhopadhyay, and What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide To Sex and Safety, by Jaclyn Friedman, are both recently published books about gender roles in society that don’t start wonking out with Gender Studies 101 lingo. Whether you agree with their arguments or don’t agree is not the point — the point is to expose yourself to these thinkers and their ideologies.
- The Blockbuster Novel Du Jour. This is a new category for me. I’m the kind of person who sees books that I want to read when they’re being buzzed about and I don’t get around to reading them until five years later when they’ve been made into a film by Hollywood. Sigh. I’ve been told by one of my most trusted girl friendw and fellow book-lover that the Dragon Tattoo series is actually quite good. My hope is to get with the program — finally — during 2012.
Do you have any genres you’d recommend we try for 2012? Suggest a genre — and a good introductory book — in the comments!