Once upon a time I mostly read books from one literary genre: fantasy. As the years have gone by I have found that I read a much wider range of things. In fact, I voted for several genres in last weeks poll. I don’t have a master plan here. I read whatever I come across that looks interesting, or is recommended to me. In fact I even went so far recently as to tell my wife to stick a book in my hand, and that is what I would read next. She did, and I read it. It was a good book, and it was something that I probably wasn’t going to read otherwise.
This is the main point of this post: reading things you wouldn’t normally read. It is easy enough for me to say you should try reading outside your comfort zone, but that doesn’t really help you do it now, does it? Oh, and if you only ever read, say, novels about 18th century conflicted Persian poets, than that is fine. You can keep reading those. But for the rest of us it is time for…Genre Bingo!
The goal here is to read a book from each of the genres in a line across, down, or diagonally on the genre bingo card. Once you complete that line, you win! The Free Space space isn’t actually free. You still have to read a book, but you can read any sort of thing you want and count it for that space. There is no set order, and there is no time limit. You can read 20 mysteries before you get around to reading a book of short stories if you want. It can even be a book of mystery short stories. However, each book can only be counted for one space.
I know what you are thinking at this point. You are thinking “this is just the greatest and coolest, but how on earth am I going to find books from genres I am not familiar with?” Good question. I’m glad you asked. (Also, Genre Bingo is totally not my idea. Lots of people have done it before.) You can always ask your Friendly Neighborhood Library Practitioner for genre help and advice, of course. That is always a great option. You can also use this handy list of links to genre books that I am providing.
Fiction Essentially, any book that doesn’t fit into a specific genre. Most best sellers will fit this category.
Science Fiction Spaceships and aliens.
Fantasy Wizards and unicorns.
Romance Love is in the air. Also known as “happy ending” stories.
Horror To quote my niece coming out of the Haunted Mansion at Disney, “scary monsters, Mommy”. Also, zombies.
Western Howdy there, pardner.
Christian Fiction Also known as “gentle reads”.
Short Story Books of short stories are often anthologies with numerous authors, but can also be compilations of a single author’s work.
North Carolina Books set in North Carolina, or written by North Carolina authors.
Nonfiction Books with real facts in them.
Biography A book detailing a person’s life. An autobiography is one written by the actual person.
Young Adult Books for teenagers. Although us library types will tell you that there is some good reading for adults in YA.
The Alex Awards which are for adult novels that have appeal to teens
Historical Fiction Books set in the past.
Classics All those books that we should have read but haven’t gotten around to.
A challenge to read 100 classics of which I have read like 25
Urban Fiction Usually features African American characters. My wife had a side gig reviewing submitted manuscripts in this genre a few years ago.
Realistic Fiction Books where the characters, plot, and settings are are true to real life.
Humor Books that make you laugh. Hopefully. Remember, British humor is different than ours.
Adventure The Indiana Jones and Errol Flynn part of the blog. Can be fiction or nonfiction.
Poetry It doesn’t even have to rhyme.
Thriller Hero vs the bad guys in a modern setting, such as spy novels.
Graphic Novels Fully illustrated books. See my post here for a more thorough explanation.
Award Winners Any book that has won a literary award.
Crime This would include detective stories and police procedurals.
So, what happens when you get genre bingo? First the fireworks go off.
Then you get a prize. There is an exciting list of prizes to choose from.
- Reading is its own reward.
- The admiration of your peers.
- Something to gripe about (if you didn’t like some of the books you read).
- A cookie.
- Another cookie.
- A free cheat day (dieters only).
- Bragging rights.
- A personalized prize from me. (Seriously. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of your winning genre bingo card and I will do my best to send you a real life prize.)
Am I going to play genre bingo myself? Sort of. I think I am going to continue my reading habits as normal and keep track of what bingo spaces I hit on. In a year, if I remember, I will revisit this and see how many I got.
As a finale I present to you an alternate bingo card. Instead of genres we have random types of books to read. Same rules and prizes as above. Feel free to share your thoughts and bingo progress in the comments. and Happy Reading!