This summer I found myself in a researching, reading, and writing haze. Caught behind stacks of books that threatened to bury me alive and the continued soft glow of a computer screen on my pale skin instead of warm summer sun, I began to think about what I might do with my time once this MRP business was over with. Most students go through this phase; we dream of other activities or careers as a means to escape the low points of academic solitude. I have known some people to book flights to far away locals in an attempt to out run the work load. There is something freeing about the idea of physically leaving behind all your books and edited pieces of paper. But, after about ten minutes of glancing at the price of European flights, I clicked those browser windows shut and took another route.
Only because I must be a masochist, I came up with a different kind of vacation. A vacation that doesn’t really sound like one after doing all the reading and writing I already was participating in. I settled on an intellectual vacation – a book list. Only an English student would think that creating a reading list is a vacation.
The past few years I had focused so intently on a single genre of fiction. So, I asked myself, “Self, what genre have you not read much of?” The answer was often being read beside me just before bed every night – Science Fiction and Fantasy.
A cursory investigation of our bookshelves and one could easily pick out which books are Mine and which are His. My partner has always gravitated towards sci-fi and fantasy both classic and contemporary. Although we are both self-proclaimed nerds, his nerdy repertoire is far more nuanced than mine. I mean, our combined book collection includes a Klingon dictionary because of him, okay.
This summer had already found him introducing me to “new” and popular sci-fi/ fantasy television shows such as Game of Thrones and Doctor Who, a reading list seemed like an appropriate step. Besides, my mother always told me that a change is as good as a rest. I want to be clear that this wasn’t because I had grown to hate my research material, as so many do when conducting this level of research, or thought that I would abandon women’s literature once the last page was printed of my MRP. I was just a little burned out and knew that I wanted to read something different and be able to share a set of novels with my partner that we have never discussed before.
I asked him for a reading list of ten books and in his excitement he sent me a Google docs list with double that. He also pointed out that some of these are the start of a series, “so if you want to continue with the story there are more books.” His hopefulness was palpable. I was a bit overwhelmed but also excited. He had been thoughtful in his choices, wanting me to gain a base knowledge of hard and soft sci-fi/fantasy.
Since August, I have read 4 out of 20 books on the list. As part of this blog I am introducing a review category called Blind Spots that will follow my progression through this list. I encourage others to evaluate where their literary blind spots are. We all love books but there will always be genres that we gravitate more towards. For some it is chick lit, others celebrity autobiography, or historical romance. Our favorites will always be there, but what might we gain from broadening our reading horizons? What genres do you tend to ignore and might want to explore instead?