Reading Outside Your Comfort Zone

Even if you’re just a serial reader and have no desire to write, taking a step out of your normal genre can be incredibly liberating for your mind. There’s nothing wrong with having a favorite genre, but if you never branch out, you’re limiting your own experiences.

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Reading only one type of book is like living a thousand similar lives. Now, don’t take this as me saying that all books within one genre are the same, but you have to realize how different a book like The Night Circus is from Gone Girl versus Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Obviously I could go on.

But why does it matter? If you’re perfectly happy living your thousand lives within the same genre, why should you bother branching out?

I have a few reasons:

You find new lives to love.
How can you dislike something you know nothing about? I used to exclusively read fantasy and never set foot in any other shoes. Since college I’ve been willing to try new things, and let me tell you, psychological thrillers are pretty amazing. I would never have fallen in love with writers like Ted Dekker or Gillian Flynn if I hadn’t given their genre a chance.

You become more adaptable.
This goes for writing and for living. Your experience grows tenfold when you try something new, even if you discover that you hate it (I just don’t think I’m ever going to get into the John Green type YA Romance). You learn aspects of that genre you might want to incorporate into your own writing or life. Even if you’re not into the writing scene, you can learn valuable lessons from characters of fantasy novels just as much as you can from romance or sci-fi.

You appreciate your favorite genre that much more.
Coming home to good old low fantasy fiction (For instance, books like The Night Circus and the Harry Potter series. Obviously fantastical, but not taking place in another world.) is like coming home after a long vacation. The vacation was amazing and you may have taken tons of Instagram worthy pictures, but at the end of the week when you’re out of clean clothes and your bed is calling your name, you’re just ready to go back to what you know. You know? When I find a new series that fits my preferences perfectly, like the Divergent series, you get that warm feeling in your gut of comfort and excitement.

Even though I have my go-to meal at Olive Garden (lunch portion chicken scampi), sometimes I just want soup, salad, and breadsticks. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s healthy, even. I encourage you to try it.

What’s your favorite genre, and what genre do you want to read more of?

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