There are so many lists of recommended books to read, publications stating which books add up to us being well-read, celebrities sharing their recommended lists, and politicians pointing us toward books to feed our minds. But I don’t want to offer you a list of book titles, suggesting specific books to you. That seems too influenced by the list-maker, too specific. I want to challenge us all to read deliberately.
A New Take on Recommended Books to Read
A genre you’ve never read before
It’s fun to discover new things and doing so helps you relate to whole new groups of people. Expand your mind and interests by exploring genres you’ve never read. There may be genres out there you didn’t even know existed!
A genre you think you wouldn’t like
Most of us have genres we think aren’t for us, but there are also many times that one book from that genre finally makes us try it out or someone we know really loves the genre and we finally try it and find it was different than we thought.
It probably isn’t wise to just grab any book off of the literal or metaphorical shelf from a genre you don’t think you’d like. If you are someone who likes to read everything, you probably don’t feel like you need this section.
Research the genre to find a book from it that sounds appealing to you. Ask people you know and trust their opinions, if they have read something from the genre. Or Google something like good books to read in ____ genre or books in ____ genre that anyone will like.
A book written by someone from another culture, background, race, etc.
Avid readers probably do some version of this fairly often, but not deliberately. You may read classics who were written by people in another culture or background from you and maybe even a different race.
But some cultures and backgrounds are much more represented than others. There are many you won’t usually run into by accident and aren’t in most recommended reading lists. Think about places and types of people you have never read about or only read when you were in school. Seek out some interesting books to read written by a diverse selection of authors. Here’s a list I just found of Native American authors.
A book/article/blog post written by someone with different viewpoints from yours
Try to understand or at least have an awareness of where someone else is coming from by reading what they have to say. You may have a wide variety of emotions about this, and you may need to pick and choose which areas you feel comfortable doing it about. Some things may just be too emotional.
Save yourself some frustration by trying to find the most respected book in this category. It will likely be less troublesome.
You may also not feel comfortable paying for a book by someone with certain views. This is why I included articles and blog posts in the header.
What you discover may help you make better arguments or speak in a more peaceful and effective manner when interacting with people with those views.
A banned book
Stand up to those who would limit what we can read by reading a book that is currently banned or has been banned in the past. This might be a book schools no longer want on recommended reading lists, books banned in certain countries, or books that people think are too fill-in-the-blank.
Don’t just read it. Consider why it was banned. How do you feel about that?
After you’ve read it, go further. Read the arguments for and against the book, particularly about the books you also find troublesome.
It can be an eye-opening experience to see all the different ways people can feel about and uses people can find from the same book. What bothers people about it? What help have people found from reading it?