Trying New Things | Finding a new comfort zone in romance novels and manga

Trying new things

Hello, my lovely lemons! 🍋 I hope you’re doing well today! I’ve been trying new things recently. I’ve always been fairly set in my reading ways. For quite a few years now my genres have been Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Queer YA Contemporary. I had little to no interest in anything else, bar the occasional graphic novel, and the two whole mysteries I’ve read in the past four years. Then, this month, I just snapped. I needed something different. I bought the first cheap romance novel I saw in the supermarket. I downloaded so much manga. I rekindled my obsession with visual romance novel games.

And you know what? I’ve never been happier. I’ve never been reading so much. I’ve never had so much fun.

Visual Romance Novels

Okay, these don’t exactly count as a “new comfort zone” since I’ve been obsessed with at least one for years, but they recently took me by storm in a big way. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re essentially dating simulator games, but the “novel” part comes from how you’re inserted into a whole story, following a larger plot (alongside dating whoever you like, of course). My favourite that I’ve been following for years is:

The Arcana from Nix Hydra

The Arcana characters

I was drawn to this initially because of how queer-friendly it is. The game lets you choose your pronouns (including a they/them option) and you can date people of various genders. Then I fell hopelessly in love with the characters and played along through most of the game’s development. All the main character routes are completed now, and you can play totally for free, so if you’re interested please check it out! I seriously love this game and its storytelling.

Fictif from Nix Hydra

Last Legacy characters

I love The Arcana so much, it was obvious I was going to give the studio’s newest game a go. Fictif is again dedicated to visual romance novels, but it has a whole catalogue of different stories you can play! Last Legacy is my favourite – you star as a cosplayer who accidentally gets pulled into the world of your favourite video game. It’s a fun RPG-style world and every single character is my favourite character. This game makes me laugh out loud more than anything has in a long while.

Actual Romance Novels

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry book cover

Sometimes you spend ages researching a book before you decide to buy it, and sometimes you’re buying groceries in the supermarket and grab a paperback on your way to the checkout. This was most certainly the latter. Impulse buying at its finest. I haven’t read an adult romance book since I was probably 13, and if you’d asked me earlier that day I would’ve said I didn’t particularly want to read one again. Yet I saw this bright, poppy cover in the supermarket, flicked to a random page which happened to make me laugh out loud, then got home and started reading it immediately. It was wonderful.

All The Manga

I… kind of went absolutely batshit crazy for manga. I went from never having read a single one, to reading 21 volumes in under a month. That number will probably have risen by the time I finish this post. Here are my favourites I’ve found so far:

I Hear the Sunspot by Yuki Fumino

I Hear the Sunspot by Yuki Fumino

This was the very first manga I read! It’s a beautiful and emotional story, and it also features Deaf and Hard of Hearing representation. If you’re a fan of slow-burn romance, this one is very, very slow-burn and should definitely be on your radar.

A Gentle Noble’s Vacation Recommendation by Misaki, Momochi, & Sando

A Gentle Noble's Vacation Recommendation by Misaki, Momochi, & Sando

This is my new favourite thing ever. I love it so much! Laidback noble Lizel one day finds himself in a parallel world, that’s very similar to his but isn’t. Instead of panicking, he decides to enjoy his time there as if it were a vacation. He hires seasoned adventurer Gil to act as his tour guide and sets out on a new path as an adventurer. A loveable cast of characters taking on classic videogame-esque quests like eliminating monsters and exploring labyrinths. The art is beautiful, the story both exciting and relaxing, and every character is as loveable as can be. This manga is pretty underhyped, and the light novels it’s based on haven’t even been translated to English, so I’m really hoping it picks up more fans soon! I’m already hopelessly obsessed and I’m not sure I can handle learning Japanese just to read the light novels. Please let them get a translation!

My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi

My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi

A whole school of kids with superpowers training to be heroes? Sign me up! This manga is so much fun. It’s also pretty action-packed and has some very tense and exciting hero/villain confrontations. It has a huge cast of characters and each one is so unique and loveable. The character designs alone are incredible!

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level by Kisetsu Morita, Yusuke Shiba, & Benio

I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years manga cover

Azusa worked herself to death at a young age, so when she’s given the chance to be reincarnated as an immortal witch, she decides she’s going to take things easy. After 300 years of killing slimes, word gets out that she’s reached max level, and suddenly she must do everything she can to avoid adventure and get back to her laidback life. This series is so much fun. It’s lighthearted, has a cute fantasy setting, and is filled with just as many hilarious antics as you can imagine.

I have been having a lot of fun getting out of my comfort zone lately. I think stepping back from the bookish community has allowed me to really explore my own tastes without getting caught up in other people’s opinions and recommendations. I love this community dearly, but I am very easily influenced, and some time away has been good for me. I’m also really excited about the new direction my reading is taking in terms of my blog – I’m feeling pretty inspired by having new things to talk about. As much as I love it, I have to admit I was running out of fresh takes on queer YA novels. So, here’s to seeing what the future holds!

Love and lemons, Abi

5 thoughts on “Trying New Things | Finding a new comfort zone in romance novels and manga

  1. I definitely think you can get so caught up in recommendations when you are in the book community a lot, you can always find 10 books like the one you are reading that you forget to look outside your comfort zone in a way. I have definitely been feeling like more romance books lately, like you say they are fun and often quick reads. I still need to check out manga though, definitely love the sound of A Gentle Noble’s Vacation Recommendation though !! I hope you are well and happy reading !! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes exactly! When you follow a lot of people who read the same genres you’re seeing the same books so much you forget there are others. Yes, romance is really nice for when you just want a light, fun read. Thank you! I hope you’re doing good as well 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never heard about visual romance novels before but it sounds so much fun, I’m going to give it a try! I’ve seen so many amazing things about I Hear the Sunspot, I’ve been saving it for when I’m in the mood for something more quiet and slow burn 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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