Get out of the box!
"Oh! You like to read, too? What kinds of books do you like to read?"
"I can switch the music for this trip. What kind of music do you listen to?"
"Let's go to a movie!What kinds of movies do you like?"
We ask each other these questions all of the time, but should we? They are probably one of the worse questions we could be asking each other. The very question pushes us further into the boxes we tend to pack ourselves away in. We label our tastes, slowly, and often without even realizing it, closing ourselves off more and more.
We pick a title and almost define ourselves by them. Soon we tend to focus on that one genre. We say "I like to read romance." and that becomes almost all we read, over looking the numerous other options simply because they aren't romance. We browse the Romance sections and forget the others, leaving perfectly happy and feeling like we've seen all there was to offer us because we shopped that one section.
But even worse, we do the opposite, too. We write off entire genres with a wave of the hand. We say, "I don't like fantasy." and we use this as justification to ignore an entire genre, convinced there's no point in even exploring because you don't like it anyway.
We walk into the experiences knowing we'll most likely like it because it's the genre we like or that we won't like it because it's the genre we dislike, and in doing so, we miss so much. We lose out on those exceptions to the rule. We never experience those stories that, if we give them a chance, may very well be our new favorite all because someone tossed it into a box with an arbitrary genre title on it and forgot about it.
But what if we didn't? What if we went into every genre like it was as insignificant as hair color? If instead of saying "I read romance!" we said, "My favorite genre is romance"? What if instead of saying "I don't like fantasy," we said, "I think fantasy is one of my least favorite genres but I did really like Harry Potter." ? What if we always kept in mind that stories, like people, are not just one thing. Stories are often a number of things, just in it's own package. What if we made it a point to give each genre a chance? A real chance? What if we made it a point to read a number of books in as many categories as we can a year, allowing ourselves to explore all genres with an open mind?
Because no genre is cut and dry. There are always exceptions to the rule. There will always be that hidden treasure in the stack of your least favorite genres, the gem that will grab onto your heart and hold on with both hands, the ones that you'll love even though you "don't like" that genre, just as there will be additions to your favorite genre that you don't love. Why limit ourselves? Why pack ourselves away into a box someone else labeled and live there? Why be the reason we miss out on so many experiences?
Personally, I read, watch and listen to a little bit of everything but my favorite genres are urban fantasy and pop music. I don't love sci-fi but I adore Star Wars so there's still hope and I tend to not love so-stupid-it's-funny but one of my favorite movies is Empire Records and Dodgeball. My movie genre of choice leans toward romantic comedy, which you can see in my movie collection, however if you ever looked at my movie, music or book collections, you'd think they belonged to someone with split personality or something and, you know what? I'm okay with that, because all stories have value, even fictional stories and I want to experience as many as I can while i have the chance. Don't you?