I have been a voracious reader since childhood, but somehow the world of reading challenges had passed me by until very recently. February 9, 2013 to be exact. I began YALSA’s Hub Reading Challenge six days after the start date, but that was
not a deterrent. At the onset of this adventure, my goals were:
- complete the challenge
- read at least one book from each award category
- read outside my comfort zone
Each of these goals was important and expanded my reading horizons. However, reading outside my comfort zone proved to be both the most difficult and most rewarding aspect of the challenge.
At the onset, I assumed that reading a book from each category would qualify as “outside my comfort zone.” Reading outside my comfort zone meant more than reading across genres … it meant not reading! Enter the oft-overlooked audiobook. Format, not genre or topic, was my personal comfort zone. I listened to four audiobooks for the challenge, and one of those books changed the way I approach reading.
I was told, “listening to a non-fiction audiobook is like listening to NPR.” I like listening to NPR; let’s give this a try. I quickly went through two nonfiction titles on the list, reading along while listening to the CD. Success! I then returned to reading print books without fanfare, and then I hit the wall. I tried to finish a book on the list that others had raved about, and it just wasn’t working for me. The deadline was approaching and I had one more book to read. I searched the catalog for a book I wanted to read that was on the list. Nothing. Okay, I am determined to finish this reading challenge. What should I do? I looked for books that were on the list and available. Monstrous Beauty!
I had actively been avoiding this book. The description did not appeal to me, and I simply wasn’t interested, but I did want to complete the reading challenge. I discovered that the audio version was the only available at the time. You see, up to this point, even when I listened to audiobooks, I read along with the print version. Time was short; I couldn’t wait for the title to arrive in print format. So, I listened. I listened and I was hooked.
The book I had actively been avoiding (I don’t do mermaids) was one of the most engaging books I read during the challenge. If not for the challenge, I may not have rediscovered the magic of having a story read to me. If not for the challenge I would not have discovered the joy of “reading” Monstrous Beauty. For the record, it is so much more than a mermaid tale. It is a murder mystery, a family history, and a love story. It is a wonderfully written journey of a young woman’s self discovery and so much more.
— Regina Renee Ward