Today’s post is presented by our honored guest poster B. If you read Paperback Adventures: The Time I went to the Amazon Store, then you would easily recognize B as the friend I visited the Amazon Store with.
10 Genre-Defying Titles: A List
Walk into a bookstore and you’ll likely see the following: the omnibuses of Mercedes Lackey shelved in Fantasy and Science Fiction, James Baldwin’s Another Country shelved in Fiction and Literature, Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before shelved in Teen Fiction, and Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton shelved in Biography. These titles, and their many shelf-mates, fit, mostly, the genre to which they’ve been assigned and/or marketed to. However, there are a number of books which transcend the genre they’re generally associated with. The ten books listed below cross and re-create genres, thrilling the mind. With the exception of the first title, the books below are generally associated with an adult (as opposed to young adult or child) audience, so please keep in mind.
* indicates a title I have read. The remaining titles are in my TBR pile.
1) The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne. Genres: Fable, Fantasy. Transcends children’s literature. Seriously, read this title as an adult and tell me you don’t relate to some of Eeyore’s sardonic comments or haven’t known someone who was a little like Piglet. *
2) Kindred by Octavia Butler. Genres: Time-travel, Science-fiction, African-American literature, Historical-fiction, Contemporary. Dana, a black woman in 1970s America, finds herself repeatedly time-traveling to Civil War-era America where she is enslaved and forced to keep alive a white slave owner’s white son, her ancestor. Butler is a prolific and powerful author and there is something in Kindred for everyone. I can’t wait to read it.
3) The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi by Elif Shafak. Genres: Historical-fiction, Spiritual-fiction, Contemporary. In her novel of Rumi, Shafak, an esteemed Turkish writer, entwines the story of the thirteenth-century Sufi poet and his dear friend, the whirling dervish Shams of Tabriz, with that of contemporary century- based Ella Rubenstein creating a wonderful dual tale. More people should be aware of and reading Shafak and The Forty Rules is an electrifying place to start. *
4) The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Genres: Historical-fiction, Fantastical, Mythological. I first encountered Divakaruni’s writing as an undergrad. in my Advanced Expository Class, in which we read her short story “Clothes.” “Clothes” easily became one of my favorite short stories, and I am excited to dig into Divakaruni’s full-length novel, a re-telling of the Mahabharata from a female character’s point-of-view.
5) The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. Genres: Historical-fiction, Fantastical, Surreal. Do you like Napoleonic era history but wish it was more romantic and less realistic? Do you like LGBT+ fiction by a #ownvoices author? Then The Passion, the story of French chief Henri and Venetian heroine Villanelle (bisexual), should be headed to your bookshelf and that of your friends. *
6) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Genres: Science-fiction, Futuristic, Coming-of-Age. Ishiguro’s thought-provoking novel about a trio of friends who first meet at an English boarding school and discover what kind of future has been planned for them is one of the most poignant novels I’ve ever read. I’ll always remember where and when I read this quiet and heart-breaking sci-fi redux tale, and you will too.*
7) The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. Genres: Fantasy, Post-apocalyptic, Futuristic. Jemisin’s Hugo award-winning novel is the first book in her Broken Earth trilogy, featuring Essun, an orogene (someone who uses magic connected to geology) and mother, racing after her child who’s been kidnapped by her husband. The third book, The Stone Sky, was just released this month, and I can’t wait to get it so I can binge-read this fantasy-redefining trilogy.
8) The Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling. Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance. Flewelling’s seven book fantasy series, featuring Seregil, a quasi-elf-like man—his people are extremely long-lived— and Alec, partially human, partially long-lived, demonstrates what the fantasy genre can be capable of. Not only are Flewelling’s protagonists not super-magical in a magical world, but Alec and Seregil are bisexual men in a relationship (for the majority of the series) and accept and like who they are (as do their friends and family). Although I’ve only read books 4 &5, the duology in the middle of the series, I look forward to spending more time with this Robin Hood-esque duo. *
9) Kim & Kim Volume 1: The Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life by Magdalene Visaggio and Matt Pizzolo. Genres: Science-Fiction, Space-Opera, Punk, Coming-of-age. Kim & Kim is one of the most fun and original graphic novels I’ve ever read. Enter the world of Kim, bisexual, and Kim, a trans woman who identifies as queer, best friends and bounty hunters across the galaxy and you won’t want to leave. Kim & Kim showcases that graphic novels and comics don’t have to focus on superheroes to be successful or poignant. Who’s ready to dive into Volume 2 and read more of these awesome women? *
10) Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. Essays, Memoir, Women’s Studies, LGBT+ studies, Social Science. Bad Feminist is an essay collection by Roxane Gay featuring essays on pop culture, race, sexuality, the body, and how it all intersects. Read it. *