Reading outside your comfort zone

I like to read books with a Wisconsin connection, or that feature dogs or are humorous, intriguing, or historical. I also like to read literary “book club” type books that sometimes take me outside of my usual reading habits. Right now I am reading a book that falls outside of what I would normally pick--On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee. The story is set in a future America where Chinese have left their polluted cities and made labor settlements in American urban cities such as Baltimore now known as B-Mor. They are the working class while the wealthy people known as the “charters” live in their own gated communities, and the rest of the people live in areas known as the “counties” which are not under any governmental control. The main character is a young woman called Fan who leaves her settlement in B-Mor to search for her missing boyfriend Reg. Fan wonders if she will also be able to find her older brother who was one of the very few people from her settlement who did well on a test that qualified him for further education to move up to the charters. The book is narrated by the collective voice of an unnamed “We” and follows Fan from B-Mor through the counties to a charter community. Reading outside my comfort zone gets me thinking about larger themes. In the case of On Such a Full Sea the themes are class, family, morality, survival, and the breakdown of society. I have my favorite types of books that I like to read, but sometimes I like to mix it up and read something that makes me think. It can be a rewarding experience.

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