Bookish Rant or Raves: These books that pushed you out of your comfort zone

Filed in Bookish Rant or Raves , The HEA Lover Posted on August 2, 2012 @ 3:00 pm 23 comments

I admit, I rarely read books that would push me out of my comfort zone.  Well to be honest I even use guinea-pigs (Sweet Susi and Christine *g*) to read the books I’m too chicken to try first.  Then they tell me if I can safely read them. I think Susi even considered using a ‘Safe-For-Caro’ tag on Goodreads. Heh!

I’ve seen a LOT of reviews about books that left the readers broken and very disturbed.  The Siren by Tiffany Reisz for example  seems to leave most  readers in a state of shock and unease for weeks.  Megan Hart‘s books often have that effect on me, they haunt me for weeks and I still want more.

This week I discovered (thank to Mandy @ Smexy Books) a new series (serialized story) that pretty much rocked my world and really pushed my limits. Dark Soul  by Aleksandr Voinov is like nothing I’ve ever read. This is a compilation of short stories in 5 volumes all following Silvio Spadaro. Here’s the series synopsis:

 A killer’s moral compass rarely points true, and among made men, being gay is a capital crime. But Silvio Spadaro, deadly prodigy and heir to a Family fortune, is determined to find his own way—at the feet of the man he loves or by the barrel of a gun—no matter the dangers or costs.

These books are SO addictive and left me all ‘WOW’. I don’t know how the author does it but he actually made me love things I thought I would never tolerate in my books.  Mafia business, Rape (forced seduction? LOL)  with objects (no I’m not telling you which!) , Transvestite  group sex, pedophilia, incest…the list is long. All of these themes would have made me run far FAR away normally. But here…I don’t know why, it works.  The author did something magical and made me actually enjoy (even love) this violent story. It’s hot and addictive and I can’t stop thinking about them. It’s disturbing me  to no end and still I want MORE and more and more.  Honestly this series is one of my favorite read of 2012.  I’m glad I didn’t know what to expect because I might have not given the books a try and I would have missed an AWESOME story.


So here’s my question, are there themes/topics you swore you’d never read about and ended up loving?  

Do you read books outside of your comfort zone? 

Which book has left you disturbed/shocked/traumatized? 

Any recommendation?

About Caro The HEA Lover

Caroline is a HEA loving, yarn addicted French who's desperately hoping to get a HEA of her own. If she's not reading then she can be found knitting while listening to Audiobooks or watching Tv shows. Her secret addiction is reading websites that make fun at other people's expense (DYAC, Failbook)! Caroline also blogs at the Secret HEA Society with Susi.

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  • Sullivan McPig August 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I force myself to read books outside of my comfort zone once in a while, but most of the times I discover there was a pretty good reason why those books where outside my comfort zone. I can’t really think of a book that I ended up loving I must confess.

    • pattepoilue August 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Maybe you’ve pushed your limits already as far as you could. I know that in my case I still have room to explore. Until last year I kept narrowing my scope of genres and themes until it started getting pretty much always the same.I still struggle emotionally every time I read a Megan Hart for example LOL.
      But now in hindsight I’m glad I did finally give in and read all these books that made me uncomfortable.
      But for example I’m certain I couldn’t bare to read The Siren =P Maybe in a few years 😉

  • aurian August 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I really don’t like reading erotica, and I will not try again for a long time. Another comfort zone breach was the first book by Yasmine Galenorn in her Indigo Court serie. It really is too dark for me, it disturbed me highly, and I will never read the rest of those books. I still do love her Otherworld books though, and will continue reading those. But I do skip the lesbian lovescenes.

    • pattepoilue August 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      Eeeep yes Dark fantasy/UF is still hard for me too. I still can’t finish reading the Zodiac series by Vicki Pettersson. Way too dark for me. (even if I DID get the spoilers about the last book from Susi lol)

      • aurian August 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm

        I agree, could not finish that series either. Not sure anymore if it was too dark, or just too strange and I could not like it enough.

        • pattepoilue August 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm

          What annoyed me the most was that I LOVED the first book. And I got really involved in the story. Then it got too horrible. I don’t think I could even try other books by this author now. =P Glad to know I’m not the only one who felt that way

          • Susan August 2, 2012 at 8:02 pm

            I finished the Zodiak series, but it was a slog rather than a joy. I really enjoyed the first couple of books but then it went off the rails for me. I didn’t mind the dark aspect so much as the aimlessness of it. The last book was a tiny bit of a redemption in that it wrapped things up in a believable way both in terms of plot and character development, but I wouldn’t recommend the series to someone who hadn’t started it yet.

  • blodeuedd August 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I guess it depends on how you mean the one question. There was one book that when I think about it I still feel it, I hated it and wanted to burn it. It was not a book that pushed me, it was just bad and wrong. So I guess that book does not really work here.

    Other than that, nah, sure I try new things, sure they can amuse me, but I am never overly shocked

    • pattepoilue August 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      I did mean the question either way, either in good or bad. You are way more adventurous than I am. I can’t get the necessary distance to read certain genres/themes. I get overly emotionally involved and end up having physical anxiety pains. Hence why I’m dealing carefully with novelty 😉
      Well I do plan on changing that, one step at a time.

      PS: Worst part of reading ebooks is that you can’t throw the book against the wall or even burn it! lol It’s less satisfying to just delete. =P

      • draconismoi August 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm

        YES! That’s why I prefer paper. That satisfying THUMP when it hits the wall.

        • pattepoilue August 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm

          Once I can’t remember which book it was but I remember I even considered buying the print copy just so I could burn it LOL iI wouldn’t have done it but the thought passed through my mind 😉

  • draconismoi August 2, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I don’t have any specific areas that are outside my comfort zone….it’s more an issue where I’ll be readings something and become so creeped out by what is happening that I have to stop reading.

    That happened with a UF book I was reading recently. Something about blood magic and how you could bind people to do/not do certain things with their blood. Slavery, sadism, torture, and rape….without a single redeeming character to root for? Yeah, I’ll pass.

    • pattepoilue August 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      Eeep that does sound dark. It reminds me of Rachel Vincent’s Blood series. Well its dark but there’s still hope in each book.
      THIS is why I often peek at the ending or ask friends to read it and tell me if it’s Caroline-proof LOL

  • Susan August 2, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Oh, I love Hart, and I have the Voinov series in my queue (why don’t I ever have enough time to read all the books I want to???).

    I have pretty varied tastes, so it’s hard to go outside my comfort zone (at least in books, that is). I’m open to most genres. And I appreciate dark themes. The things that get to me are certain violent acts, degradation, cruelty to children/animals, stuff like that–and I’m not going to intentionally seek them out in order to push myself or expand my boundaries. That said, I’m more liable to stumble across something that’s a trigger for me in a mystery than I am in a romance/erotica book. There’s a scene from a well-known mystery series that has literally traumatized me for years. OTH, a lot of stuff in erotica strikes me as silly rather than offensive. Violence definitely trumps sex on the ick-o-meter.

    • pattepoilue August 3, 2012 at 1:43 am

      Ohhh I hope you’ll find time to read the Voinov books! So awesome *g*
      I agree that most erotica won’t shock me but I’ve heard so much about The Siren and its themes I know THIS would disturb me to no end. At some point it crosses the line.
      I’ve have my friend read the Crimson series by Trisha Baker and OMG I can’t read something so twisted and dark and violent. The “hero” keeps abusive her, he tortures her body and mind, kills everyone she likes….and more. It even has incest. Only listening to my friend telling me about them I was terrified. =P

  • Ren August 3, 2012 at 12:28 am

    For me same gender relationship (m/m and f/f) really out of my comfort zone. I love reading erotica, but when its come to m/m and f/f I always chicken out. I once try to read Rough Canvas by Joey W Hill and can’t finish it 🙁

    • pattepoilue August 3, 2012 at 1:47 am

      I can’t throw you a rock because I still chicken out every time I see f/f in a book description LOL But I do love M/M because a wonderful blogger recommended me ‘soft’ m/m so I could get used to it. It was exactly what I needed.
      What about M/M/F ? I’m wondering because I’ve read Lauren Dane’s Laid Bare and at that time I didn’t read M/M books. And all book long I kept hoping there would be some m/m/f and not just m/f/m. *g*

      • Ren August 3, 2012 at 3:08 am

        Love Laid Bare! And I think I don’t mind reading m/m/f (beside m/m in Laid Bare is pretty mild). The key is there’s a woman involved. Other that that, I can’t continue. For f/f, well I once ask my friends and they prefer reading m/m than f/f 🙂

        • pattepoilue August 3, 2012 at 3:26 am

          I know it’s weird huh? M/M is perfectly fine for me but I just can’t make myself like F/F. Weird. Ahhhh so glad you loved Laid Bare. Her new novella Laid Open will have more M/M action in it I think. I caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan’t waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaait. Laid Bare really blew me away. *g*

      • draconismoi August 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

        I never really pay attention to the genders of the romantic leads. When written properly, romantic relationships and sex work out pretty much the same no matter the genders of the partners.

  • pattepoilue August 3, 2012 at 1:53 am


    I finished the Zodiak series, but it was a slog rather than a joy. I really enjoyed the first couple of books but then it went off the rails for me. I didn’t mind the dark aspect so much as the aimlessness of it. The last book was a tiny bit of a redemption in that it wrapped things up in a believable way both in terms of plot and character development, but I wouldn’t recommend the series to someone who hadn’t started it yet.

    Bleeeeergh. I see we’re quite a few having lost faith in these books. I know how they end (lol yes spoilers) but I just can’t get myself to read the last few books. It’s sad coz I thought book 1 was very original.

  • Tamsyn August 4, 2012 at 8:28 am

    I don’t really read books out of my comfort zone. For me, reading is a pleasure, a stress reliever, a lost in another world away from normal space time. To end up been stressed and uncomfortable by a book just isn’t my cup of tea and takes the joy out of my reading. Which is one reason why I never read books without a HEA.

    • pattepoilue August 4, 2012 at 8:34 am

      I understand completely. I wouldn’t read a book without some kind of happy ending. But my problem is that I’m scared that if I don’t try to read out of my comfort zone I will miss out on awesome books. So I’m ‘peppering’ my mushy books with some darker ones 😉

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