Reading Comfort Zones

(Jennifer D.) #1

I feel like most readers have their personal reading comfort zones. As we develop as readers, we find genres we love, or authors we can't live without. We just seem to gravitate towards certain types of books.

I am curious about this idea, and I am wondering if you guys want to talk about it a bit? (I hope you do!)

Do you have your own comfort zone as a reader?

Do you push yourself to read outside your comfort zone?

If you push yourself, have you found success?

What's the best book you've read through challenging yourself, that you may not otherwise have encountered except for going outside your usual type of reads, or participating in a reading challenge that had you seeking out books you wouldn't normally consider.

I hope this is a subject you have thought about too. I can't wait to hear what people have to say on the subject!!

(RiverTree Reads) #2

Yes, we definitely have our own comfort zones. If we read a book or two by an author and it really resonates with us, we then want to consume everything they write. But we should always be open to broaden our horizons by books recommended to us or books on the best-seller list. And yes, we have found much success by being pushed into reading books we may not have chosen on our own. Receiving free books from a publisher for the sole purpose of reviewing them is a great way to stretch yourself to read new authors you may have glossed over.

(Jennifer D.) #3

Ah -- that's an interesting consideration, @RiverTree_Reads!! Do you often receive books by surprise, books you haven't requested from publishers? Or, when you are considering ARCs, are you intrigued by the descriptions so make requests, even though a book might not be in your usual wheelhouse?

(Jennifer D.) #4

I shall answer my own questions here... meant to do that earlier, but had to get some work done first! :blush:

I totally have my comfort zones as a reader. Literary fiction, historical fiction, classic literature and some nonfiction (medicine/health, science, memoirs, 'issues' books current or historical). I also really enjoy some mystery novels. I tend to shy away from horror and romance novels.

I do try to stretch outside of my comfort zone - usually into the science fiction realms. In theory, this genre should be perfect for me. In practice, it's been very hit or miss. But I keep trying. And I have found success when I push myself. I don't tend to read a lot of YA, but sometimes I try books out to see if they would appeal to nieces or nephews. The Fault in Our Stars totally surprised me with how much I liked it!! I also LOVED The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. This book was on my radar because of a friend. Then it was longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in 2016. I cannot overstate my love for this book and I am so glad I read it.

Overall, thought, I do feel it's important that I read more broadly. I also have different reading projects on the go at any given time. This year, I am trying to read more works in translation, and also read more internationally.

(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #5

Oh yes, I have comfort zones and authors too! Literary fiction, historical fiction and mystery like you @Jennifer_D. I love a great generational saga, big fat chunky books crossing generations. I have gone outside my usual reading most recently with more nonfiction and I've tried, I really have, to read sci-fi and just a few speculative, dystopian novels but I really can't. I just can't get into those reads. I'm disappointed every time. I really can't and won't do the vampires and zombies and shy away from romance too.

One book that was outside of something I would have normally picked up, but we read for an online book club, was 1Q84. It wasn't bad, and I'm glad to have tried something completely different from my usual reading.

I do like to expand my reading though and do try to read something I wouldn't normally gravitate towards, sometimes it works out, sometimes not. :slight_smile:

(Jennifer D.) #6

@Penny_Kollar: I have 1Q84 on my shelf. Unread. :joy: And, oh, do I love getting swept up in generational sagas. The chunkier, the better!!

For everyone:

So what sorts of things help you go outside your normal reading? Challenges? Book clubs? Reading reviews online? How do books land on your TBR lists if they aren't in your usual wheelhouse of reading?

(BookBroad) #7

I definitely have my comfort zones when I'm choosing books. I gravitate to certain authors and sometimes find it very difficult to read something else. It has been hit or miss for me when I move out of my zone, but I really enjoyed The Echo by James Smythe, Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett and A MAdness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis.

(Janine Tabor) #8

I suppose I have a pretty broad comfort zone. I always gravitate back to Fantasy but will read many genres. There are certain elements within genres I don't enjoy, like psychopaths in Horror, insipid Romance, erotica, military, crime procedural, but I can find something I like under most categories.

(Jennifer D.) #9

I love this perspective, @Janine_Tabor!! I tend to feel the same way, though it can sometimes be tricky navigating through the genres to find the ones that work. Having recommendations is always so helpful, especially if they come from trusted readers or reading resources!!

How do you find book that are outside of your usual types of reads?

(Jennifer D.) #10

It is a great feeling when you find reads outside of your comfort zone that work!! (I totally had a 'hallelujah' moment the first time I read China Miéville, for example!)

How do you decide which books or authors to try, if they aren't within your usual comfort zone, @BookBroad?

(BookBroad) #11

Sometimes I see a title that catches my eye but mostly, if I feel like I need to climb out of my rut, I just close my eyes and grab something off the shelf :slight_smile:

(Jennifer D.) #12

Nice!! It's great you have such variety on your shelves! :slight_smile:

(Janine Tabor) #13

Good question Jennifer. I lurk around book sites and read book descriptions randomly and sometimes something will just sound like an interesting possibility. It's the ones I won't like that stand out easily. Usually if a book gets really popular it will come up in various places, like the what are you reading thread here and people will talk about it. Then it's a matter of whether what they have to say makes me think I might like it.

(Jennifer D.) #14

We have so many resources available to us now, to help us decide which books we might love. I get curious about what works for others, and how other people come to their reading choices! :blush:

(Janine Tabor) #15

True! I guess randomness is my short answer.

(Kim@Time2Read) #16

Do you have your own comfort zone as a reader?
I think I prefer 'enjoyment zone' since I'm comfortable reading a lot of different books but there are definitely genre I gravitate towards. This include historical fiction, history, and women's fiction/family dramas.

Do you push yourself to read outside your comfort zone?
I don't particularly push, though I read other genre, often because of a book club selection or recommendations from friends and book bloggers. I also enter giveaways for many genres which helps keep a variety of reading choices.

If you push yourself, have you found success?
Sometimes. I have rediscovered psychological suspense and thrillers and am finding I really do enjoy a well written story in those genres. Not so much with memoirs and classics.

(Jennifer D.) #17

that's a lovely way of seeing it, @Kim! :blush:

(Kent Weitkamp) #18

So many comfort zones for reading: sitting in my lounger in the family room, laying in bed, sitting in my car waiting for my son to finish his class at college, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's, extra minutes while I wait for my wife to finish shopping, reading while on the stepper machine at the gym - ebooks enable an entirely new world of reading opportunities.

(Jennifer D.) #19

So many great moments in each day to squeeze in extra reading!!

Do you have favourite authors or genres that you gravitate towards more than others, @Kent_Weitkamp?

(Lara M) #20

Historical fiction is my reading sweet spot. My comfort zone also includes mystery, literary fiction and fiction more generally. In the last year l've made an effort to read more non-fiction, especially biography and memoir and have found it rewarding. But l'm still most drawn to my go to genres.