What’s Your Genre Palate Cleanser?

How do you keep books with similar plots or settings from blending together?

When I worked full-time at a books blog, I had an endless TBR pile that I had no choice but to work my way through, often reading at least two books a week.

In many cases, timing would dictate that I would have to read two books in the same genre right on top of each other, so I came up with a way to space them out – which, ironically (and happily!), involved budgeting in even more reading time.

Now that I read more for pleasure than for work, I find myself spending more time in certain genres; lately, it’s been science fiction, narrative nonfiction, and chick lit.

For example, to avoid utter exhaustion in a specific genre, I’ve kept up this same pattern of a genre palate cleanser – that is, reading an entirely different book in between two of the same genre.

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To keep from mixing up the political intrigues of a non-gendered, space-faring empire and the mysterious plans of alien stewards hovering over Earth, I’ll turn to nonfiction – a memoir rooted in real memories and anecdotes.

A trippy, postmodern horror story meditating on documentary, truth, and a bloodthirsty house gets followed by a Regency romance filled with its own twists and turns of forbidden love and dreadful misunderstandings.

But before I can pick up another romance, or a chick lit novel with similar romantic stakes, I’ve got to educate myself on media theory or data or the Internet.

Young adult is something of an exception, since the kinds of YA books I read could encompass any of the aforementioned genres, just starring teens. In that case, I don’t turn to another book, but instead bookend those with comic books and graphic novels for a marked difference in style.

Another option is to vary up the structure of a book. If I’m in the middle of a sprawling epic, I might treat myself to little literary amuse-bouches by turning to a short story collection, play anthology, or nonfiction book where each self-contained chapter tackles a new topic.

Taking time between two books of a similar bent allows me that extra bit of closure beyond what comes from reaching the final page. I’m able to cement the touching details, the funny lines, the plot twists, so that I can mentally “shelve” the book before moving on to another that might contain certain of the same elements (for better or for worse) but which will regardless be its own particular reading experience.

Photo Credit: LostINtrancE/Shutterstock.com

How do you cleanse your palate when you’ve been reading one genre for a while? Let’s chat in the comments.

About Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

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