How to Break Into a New Genre

Since 2022 has just begun, many of us, including myself, have set ourselves some goals. And if you’re a reader (which if you’re reading this blog post, you probably are) chances are you’ve set some reading goals for yourself. Now, I’ve been reading lots of posts about goals which has helped me spot some common themes. And I noticed that at the beginning of the year many people state their intention to start reading a new genre or two. I mean, even I set myself a reading experiment to try out three new genres! But when you’re so entrenched in your comforting, familiar genres, it can be difficult to dive into a new genre. Where do you start? How do you find books you’ll like? These questions are ones that I’ve had myself in the past as my favorite genres have shifted over time. So I thought I’d share with you the tips I try to utilize whenever I branch out of the genres I already know and love!

Seth Meyers Tips GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers

Step 1: Go With What You Know

Now you can take this step in one of two ways. Either you can go with what you know and just start reading something popular from the genre you’re stepping into. Chances are you’ve heard of The Kiss Quotient even if you don’t read romance. And I definitely have heard a lot about She Who Became the Sun, even though I haven’t read a fantasy book in years. If you really know nothing about the genre, don’t worry, I still have some tips for you, but if you’ve heard of a book in a genre before and it sounds even remotely interesting to you, why not give it a try to break into the genre. Maybe all the hype was true!

The other way you can interpret this step is to pick up books that have familiar tropes or themes to them. Sure you’ve never read a horror novel before, but since you’ve watched some horror movies, you know which tropes you enjoy and which to stay away from. So start there. Or maybe you like an author that writes in various genres! Maybe check out their work in a genre you’re unfamiliar with. You don’t have to completely jump into a new book that you’ll be completely unfamiliar with. If it’s easier to take baby steps, add some familiarity to this new venture of yours!

Love And Hip Hop Hollywood Fizz GIF by VH1

Step 2: Find An Expert

Now the first sort of “expert” I’m going to recommend are lists and awards. Yes, something like the Goodreads Choice Awards is mainly a popularity contest, but hey, those books are popular for a reason. And yes, many Top 100 Books in _________ Genre contain some outdated works, but there usually are some newer and more familiar titles that might resonate with you. Regardless of whether you even pick a title from these lists, it can be helpful to just get a sense of what kind of books to expect by taking a look at the most popular or timeless works in a genre.

But really, you have to find a person to get an opinion from. I know that even as someone who primarily reads romance and graphic novels, I follow a lot of people that read primarily other genres. So I would visit their platform to see which books they’ve loved recently to get a better sense of what books may be for me. I’d suggest you try finding someone whose taste seems to match up with what you’re looking for, because even within one genre there are a lot of different subgenres to choose from. Once you’ve tried a book or two in a genre this will get easier, since you’ll be able to compare what you’ve read and what your enjoyment was with other reviewers and get a sense of who agreed with you for the most similar of reasons. Then you’ll know they might be a good reference for future book recommendations!

Step 3: Try Again

Chances are the first book or two you read in a new genre won’t be new favorites. But don’t give up hope! Keep trying new authors, new tropes, hyped books, underhyped books. Give the genre a chance before you decide if it is or isn’t for you. My first few graphic novels that I picked up didn’t make me love the genre, but as I read more I learned what I liked in terms of the art and the storyline and now it’s one of my top two genres that I read in 2021. My point is, that even if something doesn’t end up becoming a new favorite genre, it will take trial and error and more than two or three books to find your niche in the genre. So keep trying!

try again diane keaton GIF by Poms

What tips do you have for breaking into a new genre? What genre do you feel you’re an “expert” in? What’s a new genre you’d like to try?

29 thoughts on “How to Break Into a New Genre

  1. This is such a good post, Malka! I definitely agree with everything you said, they are all good tips for getting into a genre. The Goodreads choice awards and a lot of those “best books” lists are based on popularity for sure.. but like you said, these books are popular for a reason, and are probably a safer choice to start with than something that received mixed reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Veronika! I’m so glad you think these tips are good ones! And I definitely think that starting off you should try the popular books to get a sense of your feelings on staple books in the genre before moving on to books with more mixed opinions. Because when you start off with a popular book, there’s a much greater change you’ll start your journey with this new genre by reading something you enjoy!

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  2. It’s easy to get stuck on what you know and like, but then you might never discover what else out there you might enjoy! I enjoy non-fiction, but when school is in session my brain can rebel against too much learning. I branched out to reading memoirs so I could read about real people without overworking the poor brain cells.

    I wouldn’t call myself an expert in any one genre (weird reading habits), but I do read lots of literary nonfiction, and, as I mentioned, memoirs. I also love coming-of-age stories and humorous/satirical novels. To branch out from these genres, I’d love to try more poetry that explores similar themes, or maybe sci-fi that discusses coming of age in an apocalyptic or futuristic world.

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    1. Yes, exactly! Most of the time when I branch out of my comfort genres, I’m surprised that I enjoy these genres that I rarely touch, but really it shouldn’t be surprising! There are so many amazing genres, and I really want to work harder to explore more of them to expand my reading tastes a bit!

      My brain rebels against non-fiction during the semester as well, so I totally understand! But I’m glad that you found a new genre to explore, despite your brain’s attempted rebellion!

      I hear that. I think that it’s hard to become an expert in a genre, but I’m sure you still have fantastic recommendations from the genres that you read a lot of, just by virtue of reading a sizeable amount from the genre, regardless of your status as an expert!

      Satirical novels are some of my favorite! I adore when they’re heavy handed and blatant in their commentary because it just amuses me so much to see the clever ways the author uses their satire to make a point. Maybe check out Beauty Queens by Libba Bray if you want a heavily satirical YA novel. I know it’s not your usual genre, but hey, this post is all about branching out!

      As for the genres that you actually WANT to try out, I think poetry is a tough one to get into, because the style and content can vary so much from poet to poet. Two books of modern poetry on similar topics can end up being remarkably different. Unfortunately because of that and because of the fact that I haven’t read much poetry, I don’t have much to recommend. But I hope you find some collections that speak to you!

      In the case of sci-fi however, I know there are plenty of people out there that would be able to recommend you exactly the kinds of stories that you’re looking for. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people, but I’d recommend doing a bit of searching to find the people who have the ability to guide you to the books you’re seeking out!

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  3. this was such helpful post malka! i’m 14 so naturally my reading tastes keep evolving – till last year I used to avoid contemporary like a plague but something changed, and now I realized I’m quite the YA contemporary person!! i’m still a fledgeling into the genre tho, and I’m lucky to have a lot of amazing friends who always keep recommending me their favs!

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    1. I’m so glad you found this post to be helpful! I don’t think a reader’s taste ever stops evolving! I used to love contemporary YA, but now I’m much more focused on adult romance! However, if you want even more recommendations from the past few years when I was reading YA contemporary, I’d suggest picking up Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz and Love From A to Z by S. K. Ali!

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  4. This is such a relatable and helpful post!!! And definitely applies to tropes too! Today when I was updating my tbr, I realised I tend towards Fantasy, Contemporary Romance and thriller. (All under YA of course- I’m 14) I never watch horror movies. I’m a coward I know but I don’t love sleepless nights. So I’m certainly not going to open up to the horror genre any time soon (maybe in the future). But I want to try Humour and Graphic novels.
    I’ll be trying out these tips for sure.
    Loved the post!!! ✨

    PS: I’m open to suggestions for Humour and Graphic novels book coz I don’t have any in mind

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    1. I’m so happy that you found this post both helpful and relatable! I feel like those are two of the best adjectives anyone could ever give one of my posts! And you’re so right! This does apply pretty well to tropes!

      I can’t touch horror either because I’m too much of a scaredy cat. Even thrillers are too much for me! Those are definitely two genres I have no plans of reading in the near future (and quite possibly ever)!

      OMG! I don’t know much about humor books, but I would LOVE to suggest some graphic novels to you! I’ve made entire blog posts and Bookshop.org lists about the ones I love! Based on the genres you like, I’m going to recommend On A Sunbeam, Heartstopper, Bloom, The Deep & Dark Blue, Nimona, and Snapdragon! Those are good ones to start with, but I’m happy to recommend even more at any point if you have a specific kind of graphic novel story you’re looking for!

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    1. Thank you!

      Wow! That’s a brave method of trying out a new genre. I don’t know if that method would work for me. I think I appreciate hearing feedback about books before reading them too much! But I’m glad it’s a method that works for you! And like you said, you can always go back to your comfort genres if it doesn’t work out!

      I don’t believe I’ve ever read an autobiography, except maybe once or twice for elementary school book reports, so I don’t have any recommendations for you, but I hope you find some books you enjoy in this new to you genre!

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    1. Thank you!

      Yes! I trust blogger and even booktuber and bookstagramer recommendations so very much! If there’s a book that I keep seeing a specific book lover rave about and then I come across it in a bookstore, I’m always tempted to buy it to see if I’ll love it as much as that person did!

      And I think that a book needs to have elements I love if it’s in a new to me genre. Because I rely on enjoying those elements at the very least, even if I don’t enjoy the genre it’s set in, as a motivator to get me to actually pick up and finish the book!

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  5. i love this post, malka! definitely very fitting for me as i’ve been trying new genres. i’ve 100% done/am doing all the things you wrote about—i really want to read lesser known books in general because there are so many wonderful books out there that aren’t hyped, but it’s hard to do that with genres i’m new to so i have to stick to the popular ones for now lol! and i never thought i’d love historical fiction, but i’ve found myself really enjoying a lot of hist fic books and can’t wait to check out more!

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    1. Thank you, May!

      Yes, reading your posts about your experiences with trying out new probably helped spark the idea for this post! I’m happy to hear that these tips aren’t just exclusive to me, and that other people use them too! And I totally agree that it can be really difficult to find underhyped books when you’re not fully immersed in a new genre yet. Hopefully with time and more reading, you’ll find those lesser known books and help spread the word about them to others!

      It’s so interesting! I’ve read very few historical fiction since they tend to focus on wars and other traumatic events through history. Although I have enjoyed most of the ones I’ve read, really I’m just waiting for a historical fiction novel that’s just a slice of life story set in the past for me to pick up and adore!

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  6. Great post! Starting to read in a new genre is so difficult because it’s the terrible daunting question of where to start. I’m normally the person who goes with what’s popular with the logic it’s popular for a reason. If I don’t like it that’s where I fall down and often don’t bother trying anything else. I don’t really know if I’m an expert in any genre right now. After a long break from blogging and numerous reading slumps I feel like I’m just a plain old reader catching up on the books I’ve missed while I’ve been gone.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, exactly! I feel like if you start off in a new genre with the wrong book, you can mistakenly think that the entire genre is wrong for you, even if it’s the book that didn’t work, and not the genre!

      And I totally agree. Popular books are popular for a reason, to the point where even when I dislike popular books, I can usually still see the reason why the book is so popular.

      It’s definitely really tough to be an expert in a genre, but the great new is, you don’t have to be an expert in order to enjoy reading! So even if you’re getting introduced to all the hyped books you missed during your slump and blog break, you can still be an expert reader!

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  7. These are great tips! I haven’t given any new genres a try for a long time but I am interested in trying historical fiction again. The problem I usually have is that history isn’t something I’m usually interested in and a lot of historical books are written for time periods I’m not interested in 😅 I’m sure I’ll find something if I keep looking, though.

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    1. Thank you! It’s been a while since I tried a new genre as well, but I look forward to branching out a bit more in 2022, especially since I mainly read just two genres in 2021.

      And I definitely hear that about historical fiction. I know that personally I don’t care to read about anything that centers a war, which most historical fiction books do. But hopefully with more searching you’ll find a few books that interest you that take place in the time periods you want to read about!

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  8. I love these ideas! At the end of last year I started branching out to new genres myself, and these tips pretty much describe what I did to get into them! 😄 The first different book I read was an adult romance, and I picked People We Meet on Vacation because of all the hype I’d seen surrounding it. And it turned out to be a really good pick! I enjoyed it and it made me want to pick up more books like it, so I started going through all the romances I’d heard a lot about online and thought sounded interesting. I haven’t read too many of them yet but I bought a few so I know I have them ready when I feel like reading something different. (And it’s funny you should mention The Kiss Quotient, I’m reading that one right now!)

    I also gave a thriller from my favourite urban fantasy author a go – it was reassuring to have a familiar writing style while trying a new genre. I’m planning to try a few more genres this year, since I feel like I’ve been stuck in a rut for quite a while. I’ll keep your tips in mind when I’m looking for something new! Great post, Malka! ❤️

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    1. I’m so happy to hear that I’m not the only one utilizing these tips! And I ADORE adult romance, so if you’re ever in need of any new recommendations, or some personalized recs, feel free to just ask for them! But People We Meet on Vacation is definitely a great starting point for the genre, and I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it and felt it lived up to the hype! If it made you want to read more in the genre, I’d definitely consider that a win!

      Oooh, which books did you end up buying as a result of seeing them online? I’m curious to hear which ones sparked your interest! And I really hope you love The Kiss Quotient since it’s one of my all-time favorite books!

      Yes! A familiar writing style in a new genre can be just what you need to test out that genre! Which other genres do you want to try out this year? I hope that whatever they are they get you out of your rut!

      Thank you! 💕

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      1. Ooh, thank you! I love getting recommendations, what are some of your favourites? 😊

        I got Beach Read, You Deserve Each Other, The Unhoneymooners, and The Love Hypothesis! And I just I finished The Kiss Quotient a few days ago and really enjoyed it!

        I’m hoping to read more urban fantasy, magical realism, and maybe some mysteries and horrors! 😮

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        1. Of course my mind completely blanked when you asked for recommendations, but off the top of my head, besides for ones you’ve already mentioned I really like the Brown Sisters series by Talia Hibbert, Boyfriend Material, Red, White, and Royal Blue, and 40-Love (or really anything by Olivia Dade that I’ve read). But if you’re looking for any particular tropes or whatever, just let me know and I’ll send you some more recommendations.

          I actually haven’t read Beach Read or You Deserve Each other, but I have read The Unhoneymooners (and actually disliked it) and The Love Hypothesis which I really enjoyed! I’m really looking forward to Ali Hazelwood’s next book, Love on the Brain since it features an engineer and I’m going for my engineering degree!

          Have fun branching out! I hope you enjoy whatever you end up reading in all of those genres! And I’ve enjoyed magical realism at times, so maybe that’s one I should dip my toe back into! Be sure to let me know if you read a magical realism book that you love!

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          1. Haha, that’s always the way! If anyone asks me for my favourite book I suddenly forget everything I’ve ever read. Ooh, I’ve seen Talia Hibbert’s books recommended a lot but never got around to them, and Olivia Dade really intruigues me – 40 Love keeps popping up every time I go on the Kindle store and I think it might be a sign from the universe. I listened to RW&RB on audio a few years back and enjoyed it but I don’t think I was paying enough attention; I’d like to read it again in a different format someday. But I listened to the audiobook of Boyfriend Material just a few months ago and I absolutely loved it – I listened to the whole thing in one day! (I had to take a break from wearing earbuds after that 😅)

            Aside from Beach Read I got all the others really discounted (all less than £2) so if I like them that’s great but I don’t really have much to lose! Ooh, that’ll be a fun read for you then! I’m really looking forward to The Love Hypothesis since everyone I’ve seen read it has enjoyed it.

            Thank you! I’ll let you know if I find anything good 💕

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  9. Ah these are fantastic tips, thank you so much for sharing! It’s been a while since I really ventured outside of my comfort zone, but when I do, I really like checking out some of my favorite bloggers reading these kind of books, to get their recommendations. I’ve been getting a bit more into romance and I’ve been exploring some blogs to get some recommendations for these, too! I’m also hoping to read a bit more differently this year, maybe a bit more fantasy again like I used to so many years ago. I’m always checking and making a note of some of my favorite bloggers and friends’ favorites, so I can try them out when I’m ready to take that step and feel in the mood for them! 🙂

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    1. Thank you! It’s been a while for me as well, but I want to at least try to peek outside my comfort zone this year. In part, this post was meant as a reminder to myself that I have the tools to actually accomplish my goal of reading some genres that I don’t frequent as often.

      Yes! Bloggers have great resources when it comes to the genres they read the most of. There are so many fantastic posts recommending books by trope, by theme, and of course, by personal favorites! I weirdly don’t have a romance recommendation post, but maybe I should given how much of the genre I read!

      I think it’s hard for me in some ways though, because there are many books that I know are a particular blogger’s favorite but that I don’t have interest in. My interests can be niche even within the genres I adore, so it can be hard to find that subset of a new to me genre that I would enjoy when I’m just starting out! But the more I look, the easier it will be for me to find new books to read, so I’d better get searching!

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