Just flew in from Reno, and boy are — ::slaps self::
Sorry. Punchy from the jetlag, hangover, sleeping on airplanes, and oxygen deprivation. Just got back from Worldcon, which was in the quite lovely town of Reno, Nevada. Unfortunately it was in an unlovely series of spread-out, smoke-filled, noisy-with-many-blinky-lights casino hotels, which I might’ve enjoyed more if I was a gambler or a smoker. I’m neither, so I spent much of the weekend trying to fend off sensory overload, watering eyes, and potential emphysema. (On a completely different level, I can’t help but admire the social engineering of casinos like that. They’re elaborately designed to get you lost — but steer you inevitably towards the slots floor — and to keep you from noticing the passage of time outside. The bathrooms and restaurants are next to impossible to find, but the ATMs are right there in your face. The bars are too loud to talk in — but that’s fine, because every seat has built-in electronic gambling to keep you occupied. Fascinating.)
Anyway, the con itself was nice, as was the delightfully smoke-free convention center. Didn’t win a Hugo, alas — but I’m OK with that, as I hadn’t really expected to win given the slate I was up against. Congrats to Connie Willis and the other winners!
Anyway, since I was scheduled for five panels, the writers’ workshop, a reading, and all the Hugo stuff, I didn’t get nearly as much time to socialize as I would’ve liked. Most of my conversations were conducted while walking from one end to the (very far away) other end of the convention center, often with me fumbling with my smartphone in one hand and balancing a much-needed cup of coffee in the other. But I had one very brief, and very interesting, conversation that I think I’d like to continue here.
What was the last book you read that fell outside the range of your usual stuff? How often do you read such material? Do you consciously, intentionally seek it out, or happen onto it and read only reluctantly?
I ask because someone challenged me with that one at the con, after I’d challenged her to read something she said she hated but had never actually tried — a romance novel, specifically. We were discussing the benefits of trying new things, in part because in the previous panel I’d mentioned being bombarded at Worldcon with people saying that they “didn’t usually like fantasy” (and in fact only read my book because it was in the Hugo packet) but they liked my book. I wondered whether the experience had helped make any of the non-fantasy readers less rigid in their resistance to fantasy, or more able to see the value in something they’d previously scorned. I’d also made the statement that I thought it was crucially necessary for SFF fans to try reading outside their own identities — race, gender, etc. –in order to eliminate some of the genre’s most aggravating and nonsensical cliches.
My conversation partner then asked what I’d done lately to step outside of my own comfort zone, and I did have to stop and think about it it. Because, well, I haven’t, not in the last six months or so. That’s partly because I barely have time to read at all these days, let alone read outside of my preferred areas of fantasy, science fiction, economics, food activism, history, and other stuff I read for worldbuilding chewiness (e.g., The World Without Us). But my lack of time is no excuse; I’ve found time for other good books recently. So I’m overdue for a dose of reading diversity.
Maybe I’ll pick up a mystery; it’s been awhile since I read one. Possibly an American comic book? Something classic, perhaps; haven’t read anything more than 20 years old in awhile. Dunno.
But what about you? How long’s it been since you mixed it up a little in your reading list?