Reading Outside Your Comfort Zone
Solaris is one of Joe’s favorite books. Written in 1961, it’s a science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem that focuses on the study of a mysterious ocean on the planet Solaris. The main character, Kris, is assigned to a station to conduct research. When he arrives, he discovers that the two other scientists living at the station have undergone some significant changes since their time near Solaris–changes he soon endures himself as he encounters Rheya, his ex-wife who committed suicide. No matter how hard the scientists try to get rid of their respective “visitors,” they always show up again, dredging up painful memories and forcing the men to confront aspects of themselves they’d rather let remain dormant.
You may have seen the movie with George Clooney back in the day (I did) but the book is different, definitely more creepy and nuanced. Lem’s writing is subtle–for instance, he never divulges who the visitors are for the other men on the station–the reader is left wondering, just as much as Kris. Also, we’re never quite sure just why the “ocean” is producing these doubles of the dead–though after much hypothesizing and experimentation, the men conclude it was likely due to some aggressive electro-magnetic testing the scientists ran on the ocean.
Though the book was written more than fifty years ago, many of the themes are still relevant, and it doesn’t feel tremendously dated.
Science fiction and fantasy are definitely two genres that are totally outside my reading comfort zone. While I have pretty eclectic tastes and try to maintain a somewhat open mind (despite my strong opinions), my literal brain can’t quite bring itself to embrace the unrealities of science fiction and fantasy. I tend to be able to enjoy sci-fi a little more than fantasy, but every story is different.
I gave this book in particular a chance because it’s one of Joe’s favorite books and I think it’s interesting to visit someone else’s treasured favorites (books, movies, tv shows, albums). I also remembered liking the movie and I was intrigued by the story.
Did I love it? No, I didn’t. Most of the time I found myself skimming past all of the technical descriptions and experiments–I was really only interested in the relationship between Kris and Rheya and the implications of that relationship. But I’m glad that I read outside of my comfort zone and it’s something I’d like to continue to do, to be as well-rounded and open minded a reader as I can be.
Do you read outside your comfort zone? Why or why not?
*Image via Daniel Hanks