Reading is an excellent way to keep your mental health in check. Not only does it help improve your memory and overall brain function, but it also helps reduce stress. In fact, studies show that 30 minutes of reading can reduce stress as much as a yoga session of the same duration. However, reading does tend to become monotonous at times, especially if you stick to the same genre all the time. If you are looking to expand your reading preferences, here are some genres that are worth exploring.
Nostalgia is all the rage these days, from fashion to pop culture and even to literature. According to the New York Times, we are living in a “Golden Age of Historical Fiction.” More and more authors are writing about the past, not simply to look back but also to understand how we got here. To get started with historical fiction, you can read popular books by Stefan Zweig, one of the classic master writers of the genre, or you can grab a copy of Isabel Allende’s “Violeta,” which ranks 6th in the reader-voted Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Historical Fiction of 2022.
If you are looking for more challenging reads, magical realism is a good genre to try. Originally considered as a Latin-American narrative strategy, magical realism depicts a realistic world with an undercurrent of magic. Magical realism is a particularly important genre, mainly because it has been used to critique society. The book “Public Health, Humanities and Magical Realism,” published just this year, also uses this genre as a tool to challenge traditional research methodologies. According to experts, reading magical realism broadens your views in a way that allows you to imagine a better future.
While popular in film, the appeal of horror does not seem to translate to reading. In fact, surveys show that even publishers tend to shy away from the genre. A survey of three major publishing houses reveals that the genre only garnered 21 deals from publishers. However, there is merit to exploring this genre. It has long been asserted that horror allows not only readers but also writers to work through their fear and trauma in a safe and controlled environment. However, one of the most immediate benefits of reading horror is the “post-horror relaxation,” or the relief that you get after a positive conclusion of a horror experience.
One of the most recent genres that you can explore is climate fiction, often shortened as “cli-fi.” What makes this genre particularly important is that it deals with the very pressing matter of climate change and global warming. While these are very real problems, the genre cli-fi uses fiction as a tool to make this issue more palatable to a wider audience. Some excellent novels to read if you want to explore this genre are “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi and Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake.”
Reading various genres of books is a great way to expand your reading horizons. The ones mentioned here, while not necessarily new, are often overlooked in favor of genres that are easier to consume, such as romance. However, by flexing your brain muscles a little, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised by how much you can enjoy these, too.