Five Benefits to Reading Outside Your Comfort Zone

Discussion Post

Reading the books we know we love and enjoy is always a tempting prospect.  Why not cuddle up under the covers with another YA or with the latest release from our favorite author?  Anticipating the requisite happy ending or the sweet romance or the amazing world building we associate with certain books is a comfortable feeling, especially after a long day.  Still, there are plenty of benefits to trying out books we might not otherwise read.

Always Have Something to Talk About

Finding common ground to talk about in a social situation can be nerve-wracking.  The more you have read, however, the more opportunities you have to connect with someone over a shared interest,  Or you may simply have a great icebreaker in the form of some weird little-known fact.  Reading widely, and reading both fiction and nonfiction, can help you enter any conversation.

Present Yourself as Knowledgeable

The wider your reading habits, the more knowledge you have at your disposal when trying to make a point or persuade another person. You may have strong views about a subject, but unless you are familiar with the field or have some facts to back yourself up, it’s difficult to engage with another person and have them seriously consider your argument.

Find New Books to Enjoy

Limiting yourself to one genre or age range may accidentally prevent you from discovering other books you might love.  It’s great if YA fantasy is your thing.  But why not pick up a MG fantasy one day or an adult mystery?  You might be surprised at what you find.

Find New Perspectives

Contemporary YA or Toni Morrison may not be your thing.  But when you rule out a certain genre or author automatically, you rule our their perspectives.  Reading contemporary YA might introduce you to some issues that other genres are less likely to cover, such as the effects of divorce, the effects of drugs, gang violence, gender issues, etc.  Unless you deliberately go outside your comfort zone to find other perspectives, you may inadvertently finding yourself gravitating towards the books that  most closely mirror your own beliefs and experiences.

Improve Your Writing

Reading widely both introduces you to a variety of writing styles and strategies, and gives you more material to draw upon in your own work.  Reading nonfiction may be particularly useful for you if you need to support your argument with facts or situate your work in a larger context to demonstrate its importance. Reading nonfiction will also give you plenty of material to allude to, to demonstrate to your readers that you have done your research and have authority.

Krysta 64

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17 thoughts on “Five Benefits to Reading Outside Your Comfort Zone

  1. alilovesbooks says:

    Great post. I have to admit that while I read most genres I can’t really get into non fiction. On the rare occasion I get a non fiction book I tend to abandon around quarter of the way through. I probably should make more of an effort as those I have read have been the inspiration for some interesting discussions.

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  2. Sarah says:

    Great post! I’m personally not one of those people who can stick to reading a single genre, I just get bored! I tend to read a few books in one genre, then move onto another, and sort of end up cycling through them all depending on my mood. The two genres I haven’t read very much of though is YA contemporary and crime, I just haven’t found the right books in those genres yet 🙂

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    • Krysta says:

      I don’t read much contemporary YA myself. I guess I just don’t relate to some of the common themes, like going to prom and such. But if I can find a contemporary YA that’s not all about climbing the social ladder at school I can get behind it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. saraletourneau says:

    Yes yes yes! 😀 I read mostly fantasy (YA and adult), but I like to check out other genres if the jacket copy or bloggers’ reviews grab my interest. I read Life of Pi by Yann Martel (literary fiction) back in October and adored it. And for next year, I’m planning to mix up my fantasy reads with more historical fiction, science fiction, and contemporaries.

    Sometimes you can find “outside your comfort zone” reads within your preferred genres, too. When I started reading Emily Skrutskie’s The Abyss Surrounds Us, I knew it was a YA sci-fi. But I didn’t know it also had an LGBTQ angle, and while I’m not opposed to reading books with LGBTQ protagonists, I’ve only read a couple. It ended up being a fun story (how can sea monsters not make a sci-fi fun??) and one of several reads I enjoyed this year that promotes diversity. So in a way, it reminded me that all characters are human in their own and deserve representation in stories.

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    • Krysta says:

      Ooh! Thanks for all the great recommendations! I think people often don’t read books with LGBTQ protagonists is because most books don’t give that sort of information on the cover. You’d have to go online and search for lists of such books if you really wanted to find one, since they’re also not very common right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachael Corbin says:

    Totally agree. I often read outside of one genre just so I can broaden my horizons and become better at writing through exposure to different literary voices. It’s pretty rewarding. I was hesitant to make the jump from fiction to non-fiction, but I’m glad I did.

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  5. Donna says:

    Awesome post! I love stepping out of my comfort zone. Thanks to it I discovered stories that moved me, made me travel and try new things. Expanding your horizons with books is a great way to get a better understanding of others, of the world, and why not of yourself 🙂

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  6. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    ooh excellent posts and all good points!!! I agree that it’s good to broaden your horizons and find new things. Plus I think that it’s good to grow as a person and become more knowledgeable about a wider range of topics

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  7. Kristyn @ Reading To Unwind says:

    Great post! I love this topic and completely agree on your points. I love the idea of it allowing you to be more knowledgeable. I find it hard to have a conversation about a topic when you don’t know everything about it and reading only makes you more knowledgeable.

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