Reading Outside My Comfort Zone

Posted October 28, 2015 by Holly in Discussions | 19 Comments

I’m a creature of habit. It’s hard for me to break out of my comfort zone. Especially when it comes to reading. I have my favorite authors and I tend to stick with them. When I’m confronted with a new-to-me author, I tend to shy away unless I’ve seen a lot of really great reviews from people in my trust network. giphy Belle

Back in 2012 I decided to branch out and start reading more new-to-me authors and get out of my comfort zone. I ended up trying 32 new authors, which was great, but I thought I could do better. 2013 and 2014 were great years for new authors. I tried 48 in 2013 and 46 in 2014. Considering I average about 200 books a year, that number isn’t great. Breaking it down in months, however, it’s not so bad.

2015 hasn’t been a great reading year, period. Life has been crazy and my reading has suffered. I’ve fallen back into the habit of sticking with my favorite tried and true authors. It’s almost the end of October and I’ve only tried 10 new authors so far this year. I’m really disappointed in myself. It’s much too late to do anything about that number for this year, but I want to get back on track for next year.

Something else I want work on is being more adventurous in my reading. Not just new authors, but genres outside what I currently read. I tend to stick mainly with contemporary romance. I’d like to branch out to read more paranormal romance, fantasy and even sci-fi. The funny thing is, I tend to enjoy fantasy, sci-fi and PNR when I read it. I fall right into the worlds and get swept away by the stories. Yet I shy away from them. I have issues. Clearly. (No comments from the peanut gallery, please)

Going forward, I’m challenging myself to go back to trying more new authors and to being more adventurous in my reading. I’m not going to set a number for myself – I don’t want my reading to become a chore – but I do plan to be more conscious of the books I read.

How about you? Are you pretty good about trying new authors and reading outside your comfort zone? Do you have any reading goals for next year?

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19 responses to “Reading Outside My Comfort Zone

  1. Reading outside my comfort zone and trying new authors were really the only challenges I gave myself THIS year and I have failed spectacularly. I did great the first couple of months of the year but that went away and I went back to reading my tried and true authors and contemporary romances.

    This is probably why we’re friends. We laugh together and we fail together. LOL.

  2. As I type this, I’ve only read 65 books this year (and yes this number includes DNFs because I cheat). My goal every year is 100 books read and yeah. So NOT going to happen this year. But of that number I’ve somehow managed to try 22 new-to-me authors so far. Now some of those were DNFs, but hey – it’s the thought that counts.

    I was surprised to see how many of them were single titles. Generally speaking I find that my new-to-me-author numbers tend to skewer more heavily towards shorter works – like category romance and/or novellas. I’m much more likely to try an author I’m not familiar with if it’s a shorter work.

  3. Kareni

    I’ve read a good number of new to me authors this year, but I don’t have a number. Nor, for that matter, do I have a number of total books read. I don’t tend to set goals; I just read what I enjoy. I’m on a budget, so most of my reading is of library books. My two local libraries are responsive to a good many of my purchase suggestions which makes me grateful.

    • Oh wow, I tried not to set reading goals and read what I enjoy, when I want to read them but it didn’t last long. I’m a planner and a list maker so I set goals and I check titles off my TBR list. I’m a weirdo.

  4. Mph

    Oh hell no! Why would i want to go outside of my comfort zone?!
    Seriously, life happens and there is precious time to read. So reading has taken on a very important responsibility of putting me in my happy place. So i don’t feel the need to push myself – just only when necessary. Some necessity would be to find new authors when your fave no longer writes, or doesn’t write like they used to, or is taking their sweet old time about it….
    Often time, I often prefer trying a different genre ( non-romance) as I gave different expectation of those. Like you Holly, I like PNR but something about saving the world from the dark side often leaves me with a sense of doom and gloom instead of a nice, neat HEA.

    *shrug* I’m old, simple and busy. Happiness is hard to find and i have no time for dissapointment:)

    • Like Jen mentioned in her comment, I read outside my comfort zone to find new and amazing reads. Some of my favorite authors were found because I decided to branch out and try something new.

      But, like you, I want a guaranteed good story – one that leaves me feeling happy and warm inside. So it’s hard to break out of my rut and try new things.

  5. JenM

    I have no reading goals, although I think I might set one next year to read at least one non-fiction book a month. I used to read a lot of non-fiction, but lately I tend to stick with romance of all kinds, PNR and UF. Since I read about 15-20 books a month, it shouldn’t be hard to slip a non-fic in there, right? As for new-to-me authors, I read a fair number of those. If the plot sounds interesting, the sample is good, and the price is cheap, I’ll go for it. Looking over my list for this year, I’ve read 66 new authors out of 205 books (this includes novellas and DNFs), so just about 1/3 of the total.

    I’ve had some real clunkers (all of my DNFs were new authors), but I’ve also made some great discoveries. For example, I just swept through the first two books of a fantastic PNR series, the Celtic Moon series by Jan DeLima. If you are looking for a PNR and you like shifters, I’d highly recommend this series. I never would have found it except that I happened to pick it up in the library one day. The heroines are strong and mature, heroes are honorable and yummy, and the mythology is interesting.

    A couple of other great new authors that I’ve tried recently are:
    – Zoe Ferraris – she writes a mystery series set in Saudi Arabia with an extremely low-key, slow-burn romance. The sense of place and the descriptions of life over there are just fascinating.
    – Joshilyn Jackson – Someone Else’s Love Story – more litfic than romance, but still a very satisfying romance ending
    – Maggie Fenton – her book, The Duke’s Holiday features an OCD duke and a free spirit young miss who runs a brewery and was one of the funniest Regencies that I’ve read in awhile

    • Thanks for the recs! I’m definitely going to pick up the Celtic Moon series. It sounds right up my alley. The others are going on my TBB list.

  6. Jen

    Ha I didn’t get any farther in my reading goals than saying “Hm, maybe I should set some reading goals this year.”

    I too find it’s much easier to read outside my comfort zone when I have more reading time. When it’s limited, I kinda want to read something with a higher likelihood of enjoyment, ya know? And like you Holly, I tend to enjoy other stuff when I read it, but for whatever reason I still hesitate. (And that’s why I do try to read outside my comfort zone sometimes. I’ve read some amazing books I never would have read if I hadn’t forced myself to try something new.) I think money is also part of it. I don’t particularly want to spend $5-9 on a book by an author I’ve never tried or in a sub genre I don’t usually read because I don’t want to waste my money. I’m much more likely to take a chance on a $2 book. The library helps, but mine doesn’t have a great romance selection, and they certainly don’t have indie authors, many categories, etc.

    But I have gotten into a deep, deep romantic suspense rut this year and I can’t seem to get out of it. I’ll read the occasional contemporary by a trusted author, and every once in a while I have dipped into PNR or sci fi, but I mostly just keep falling back on suspense. I think it has something to do with my stress level this year, which is exceptionally high. I find suspense is very cathartic for me when I’m stressed because the situations in the books tend to be so outrageously stressful that it distracts me from my own issues. I was trying to fight it, but I’ve finally just decided to go with the flow for a while. If I wasn’t enjoying anything that would be different, but I am so I’ll just gorge on suspense if that’s what feels right.

    • I can’t read romantic suspense, but I feel that way about contemporary romance. I don’t put myself into stories as some readers do, but I find contemporary romance can take me out of my own life for a bit, which is always nice when I’m stressed or pressed for time.

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