Friday, June 7, 2013

Expanding My Horizons

Last week, I sort of started participating in Armchair BEA.  I had a good time, but just wasn't able to stick with it.  One of the posts I was able to write about was on Literary Fiction.  I really enjoyed thinking about the topic and have found myself reading more literary fiction in the recent past as I've lightened up my reading.

Just so we're clear, here is my interpretation of "literary fiction," taken straight from my blog post:

Personally, I think it falls right in line with my goal to read the classics. I feel like literary fiction is a category for books that are relatively new, but are likely well on their way to becoming classics. In this category, I would add the works of John Irving. I've only read The Cider House Rules by him, but my understanding is that his works often have a larger message about human nature--a message that will be understood fifty years from now. I think that literary fiction can be part of a genre. A work like Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton surely sends a message to readers about the consequences for playing God.
Literary fiction is a work that, like the classics, stands apart from the other works in its genre. It possesses the elements that place it in the genre. Yet it is somehow more, better, than the books in its category. However, it has not stood the test of time in order to become a genuine classic.

Yesterday and today, I have totally immersed myself in Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot.  It's about a girl in college who is writing her senior thesis on the marriage plot that Jane Austen and George Eliot explored in their work.  What I like most about it so far (and I'm not that far, only about 75 pages, is that it seems like a book written for people who love books.  It's about how books can have such an impact on your life.  And I really like reading about things like that.

What I like about literary fiction is that it's a bit lighter fare, not like diving into a plate of tiramisu, but it's more substantial than cotton candy.  Basically, a chocolate bar for your brain.  I like that I've been expanding my horizons and have chosen to include something that let's my mind take a break, but still feels like I am reading something worthwhile.  Not that I am setting in judgment on any genres right here.  I'm setting in judgment on my own reading tastes, habits, and appetites.  Personally, I like to feel like I am reading something good.  Hence, literary fiction is best for me.

How do you expand your reading horizons?  What genre do you reach for when your usual set isn't doing it for you?


  1. I agree, and I usually pick up something classified like "Literary Fiction." Or, as I like to call it, "Book Club picks." Most of the book club picks I've ever read would stand up as literary fiction. I think actually Oprah got the ball rolling with her original book club. Most of her selections were definitely Literary Fiction.

  2. If I have no other genre that's interesting me I have a tendency of reaching for either a memoir or biography or a self-help.

  3. I've been reading more foreign fiction to expand my reading horizons; books written by Japanese or Danish authors just come with a different point of view, which is refreshing. Plus its fun exploring new countries and cities w/out having to buy an expensive airline ticket.

  4. I'll admit that I don't think much of literary fiction but the way you described The Marriage Plot sounds really interesting-just added it to my to-read list!

  5. I have wanted to read outside of the box for a while now but just haven't done so for whatever reason. I am planning to read more classics after I catch up on a couple of series books. My husband is begging me to read Dune after I begged him to read Under the Never Sky. I was thinking more along the lines of Dickens, Shakespeare, Homer, etc. but hey Dune is a classic also! :) I'll probably try a few literary fiction books soon too. Hope you continue to enjoy The Marriage Plot!


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