Discussion post: Reading outside your comfort zone

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When it comes to reading, I’d say I have quite eclectic tastes. I’m just as happy reading literary fiction as I am epic fantasy. I’ve always got time for a good thriller or crime novel and if I hear about a great new dystopian or post-apocalyptic book, I’ll buy it straight away.

That said, there are a number of genres that in general, I don’t tend to read. This includes poetry, non-fiction, autobiographies and books that are too focused around war or long-drawn out battles. I’m also not a huge fan of young adult contemporaries.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule. I recently read and really enjoyed When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir by neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi. I do enjoy character driven novels set in the time period of WWI or WWII, just not those that are overly focused on the technicalities of battles. I really enjoyed Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which looks at a real life crime and its repercussions. I’m also hoping to explore poetry more in the future and have heard that Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey is a good collection to start off with.

Sometimes when browsing through other book blogs, I see reviews of books or lists of new releases that sound great or that have amazing beautiful covers – even though they aren’t in a genre I usually read. I also hear a lot of hype about particular books in the blogosphere, particularly YA contemporaries, that makes me wish that I’d read something and could join in the conversation. This can sometimes tempt me in, but a part of me is still always wary of investing in something if I know there’s a high chance it won’t be for me.

In the long run, I do think it’s best to understand your own likes and dislikes, and to accept that they might well be different from other peoples. There’s nothing wrong with trying to read outside of your genre every once in a while, especially if it’s something that’s been recommended to you, but I personally think I’d rather focus my time on genres that I know I’m more likely to enjoy based on past experiences.

What are your views on this? Are you an adventurous reader? Do you feel sometimes feel pressured to read books that aren’t generally your go-to genre or do you know what you like and stick to it?

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12 thoughts on “Discussion post: Reading outside your comfort zone

  1. I tend to read from a lot of different genres in general, but I do hesitate to read books I hear are graphic or really sad/unsettling. There’s so much negativity in the world already that I always gravitate towards books that are at least a bit more positive. Great post! 🙂

  2. I seldom read genres that are ‘out of my comfort zone’, though I do realize that it is probably good to do this once in a while. There is the odd exception of course. Now that I’m retired I tend to be more self indulgent and want to get the utmost in pleasure from my reading. I realize that I will probably not get to read all the books I want to read in my lifetime, so reading ones that are not on my list seem a waste of good reading time.

    • Yes definitely! I’ve accepted that I’m never going to be able to read every book in the world so I may as well focus on the one’s I definitely want to read! Although there are defniitely some books I’ve read through book groups etc that I’ve really enjoyed and I would never have picked up otherwise, so I suppose some compromise is always good!

  3. It’s definitely hard to get out of your comfort zone sometimes! I was really into teen and romance and basically swore off Game of Thrones when all my friends started reading it because I didnt think I’d like it. So it was a huge leap for me when I started reading Outlander and even the second book afterwards. Now, going back to teen is hard xD Really great discussion post!

    • I definitely tend to make judgments about books before I’ve read them based on genre and subject! I also think I go through phases with what I’m enjoying reading the most – so I’m sure you’ll get back into teen soon! Game of Thrones was one I never thought I’d enjoy, but I ran out of books on holiday once and picked up the first GOT that my boyfriend had brought with him – and I actually loved it! And I’ve just started Outlander – did you enjoy it?

  4. I think I have fairly varied tastes although I do fall back on my favourite genre – historical fiction – when I want a ‘safe’ read, i.e. one I’m pretty likely to enjoy. I read literary fiction, sci-fiction (mainly dystopian), crime, thriller, mystery and a little bit of romance , as long as it’s not sloppy or erotica (plenty of options between those two!). But I don’t read horror – there’s pushing your comfort zone and then there’s just your downright discomfort zone, and that’s mine…

  5. I have gone through many obsessive cycles in my reading “career.” I have in turn been a sci-fi, fantasy, spy thriller, historical fiction, classic, horror, mystery, true crime, suspense, and straight history and biography reader. I will read anything that catches my fancy. I don’t read erotica or books that offend my sense of propriety by overt sex, graphic descriptions of violence, or blasphemy. That is definitely out of my comfort zone. Just give me characters I care about and a goal to achieve with obstacles to overcome. If you carry me away on an interesting journey, I will live in your world for awhile (and probably return).

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