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Author Topic: Reading outside your comfort zone  (Read 6283 times)

Offline redhead

Reading outside your comfort zone
« on: April 11, 2011, 11:06:29 PM »
I know what I like.  I'm set in my ways, and stubborn, and if you skipped the  know what I like. and I know I don't like everything.

When I do read something outside my comfort zone, it often seems to end badly.  I gave up on a book earlier today, that started out with potential, and quickly turned into "not my thing".   

Am I just a narrow minded snob?  Do other readers hit speedbumps when reading outside their comfort zones?  How often do you read outside your comfort zone? does it end well? badly? what kind of experiences have you had trying to broaden your reading horizons?

Offline Shamrock

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2011, 05:48:07 AM »
I am exactly the same, there are very few times that I will read something outside my comfort zone. The few attempts I have made have left a lot of unread books clogging up my bookshelf. Unfortunately my boyfriend insists I try something new every time he gifts me a book, so I got a kindle and now he can't buy me something that I'm never going to read :)
Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind

Offline Bahl

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2011, 07:23:37 AM »
Well it all depends on what you are interested in.

I'm a  sucker for a sports autobiography, I'd read them all! Spud from John Van Der Ruit (South African dude) was a pretty fun read as was The Life of Pi. I'll also read any and all PG Wodehouse or a well written murder mystery. And a cookbook or two, although they probably do not count.

The vast majority of my reading is fantasy, but to read something different every now and then gives a new perspective to things I think.
Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.
Terry Pratchett

Offline Winter

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2011, 07:30:16 AM »
If I did not read outside my comfort zone, I would no doubt be stuck reading Forgotten Realms books and avoiding anything written in the first person perspective. I have always envisioned reading as a journey, from where I began, to the small steps I took away from there, to where I might go in the future. I like change and I don't like to settle on any one type of book for too long--I can't even stomach reading a the books in series back to back. That means that I frequently step outside my comfort zone. My experiences have been largely positive... except for YA. I have attempted a few, which range from the highly praised (Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan) to authored by one of my favorite authors (Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Prince of Mist) and the experiences have either been mediocre or just plain bad (the latter falls into this category, unfortunately).

A large part of not having many negative experiences is knowing where not to tread. There aren't many sections I won't step into, but I am not going to browse the Romance section or pick up an Erotica novel (though I've sampled a few over my fiancée's shoulder and cracked up over how bad they are written, which she'll admit to, even if she has a shelf full and can't resist buying more). There are things I haven't tried, many things, and I am sure I will run into negative experiences in the future... and, of course, there will be things I avoid (for instance, unlike RSAShark, I am uninterested in sports and avoid books concerning them like a plague).

There is a downside to expanding your reading horizons though. There are many more books vying for your hard earned money and taking up shelf/table/desk/counter/floor/couch/chair space.
"It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way."

Offline Gothic Panda

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2011, 12:25:39 PM »
I do more now than I did. When I was younger, I'd only read a book if it had Dragonlance printed on the cover. Then I spread out to some of the other D&D worlds--some Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft--loved the Ravenloft ones. After branching out from that I went on to books I felt had really pretty covers--when there's so many books to choose from, I resorted to the most shallow method of choosing. XD That's how I got into Mercedes Lackey books, although those lost interest after a few years because I felt like the quality of plot in her books took a back seat to romantic drama. That's a direction I'm still not interested in branching out in. I just have no taste for those stories. I do branch out in other ways: I read more standard fiction and even some sci fi. I recently finished The Brothers Karamazov, discovered the world of Jane Austin (now an addict), listened to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series unabridged while at work... I still don't like sci fi. I clearly gravitate toward stories set in the past (relative to me, so contemporary fiction from centuries ago counts here) over futuristic settings (still like these least) or contemporary settings.

I generally think it's a good thing to read outside your comfort zone. I've enjoyed reading Abercrombie with the book club, and that's something I probably wouldn't have picked up without being part of that.

Offline HotdogMcGoo

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2011, 01:32:13 PM »
My friend and I actually started a book club to address this exact issue.  I read Science Fiction and Fantasy with the occasional Horror thrown in for good measure.  That's pretty much it.  I don't even look at the shelves of other genres in the store.

So while I haven't enjoyed everything we've read I am glad I'm being exposed to things outside my comfort zone because while it may not hold my attention as strongly, some of them have been quite rewarding (The Kite Runner, Life of Pi).  I wouldn't have read these books in my spare time.  It can be occasionally frustrating to have to push back my own to-read list though to read something I don't want to.   ::)

Offline Bahl

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2011, 01:36:36 PM »
Jeez I hated the Kite Runner hey... Alot.
Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.
Terry Pratchett

Offline Shamrock

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2011, 01:40:35 PM »
I haven't even attempted to read Life of Pi and Kite Runner. I always feel there are so many books on my to-read list that I'm not going to waste my money on something I probably won't enjoy. I think it comes from my undergrad English subjects where I had to read some really awful books, and didn't have a choice.

Personally I tend to stick to crime, fantasy, sci-fi (select authors) and some general fiction I suppose. I read Water for Elephants and absolutely loved it. Other than that I can't think of any other books from other genres that I enjoyed in the past year.
Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind

Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2011, 02:39:52 PM »
I think it's important to keep trying to, even if you keep repeatedly failing to finish anything; if you don't at least try, you could end up missing out on something incredible. That being said, it's not as if the reading police are going to come and lock you up for having only read one genre and the same six or seven authors for the past five years.

I personally like to stretch myself now and again. If I hadn't, I'd never have found Jake Arnott, Richard Price, Roddy Doyle, James Morrow, Iain (M) Banks or Bernard Cornwell.
I am NOT short. I'm further away than I look.

Offline Blodeuedd

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2011, 02:44:02 PM »
I do feel at home in many genres, but mysteries, thrillers, bleh  :-X I never even give them a chance. Sometimes I try to get out of my comfort zone and read one, but then always cos they are like historical mystery, or some sort of subgenre.

I have just noticed what works and what doesn't work for me, can't like everything
----------------
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
http://books-forlife.blogspot.com

Offline Mark Lawrence

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2011, 06:07:00 PM »
Heh - maybe I've been lucky, but recently I've had a higher 'hit rate' reading outside my comfort zone than in it!

The last 3 books I put down and gave up on were fantasy & I love fantasy. I read two 'chick-lit' books this year (high-brow chick-lit, but still chick-lit I think) and enjoyed them, a crime thriller last year, some modern literary fiction and some classics ... all good.

I don't think anyone has a 'duty' to broaden their horizons though - why shouldn't you stick to what you like? Reading is for pleasure, not to satisfy some kind of obligation. I read more widely because I enjoy it & also because it strengthens my own writing.

Offline Blodeuedd

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2011, 08:56:09 PM »
Wow, you read chick-lit? I am impressed :) I do confess to loving chick-lit  :D People always seem surprised when I tell them what I read. What can, I love almost all genres. Cos most just fit me perfectly. May it be historical romance or my one true love, fantasy, epic, bloody and awesome
----------------
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
http://books-forlife.blogspot.com

Offline redhead

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2011, 02:17:59 AM »
thanks to all these replies,  I feel completely normal!  phew! 

seems like I'm right smack in the middle - fairly entrenched in what I like, but I do occasionally read other stuff.   I also have a sneaky suspicion my most recent "outside my comfort zone" book was possibly just a piece of crap, and that's why I didn't care for it.

Offline Bahl

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2011, 07:53:25 AM »
Give me any account of war, be it WW1, WW2, The Boer War, etc etc etc and I'll love it!
Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.
Terry Pratchett

Offline OneChapterMore

Re: Reading outside your comfort zone
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2011, 12:50:38 PM »
My 'comfort zone' is Speculative Fiction.

I try and read outside it quite a bit - this month I've read a literary memoir (Howard's End is on the Landing by Susan Hill) and an African Historical Classic (Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe) and am currently reading a YA story about incest (Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma).

All three of these have been very rewarding and very good. The trick is to stick to recommendations, and not to nice sounding names or covers (unless they are proofs).
Blog: Onechaptermore
@onechaptermore

I ramble with Lor and The Idlewilder at Rambling Through Genre

"I have within me all the dreams of the world"
- Fernando Pessoa

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