Reading within a Comfort Zone

Maybe I’m a little guilty of choosing my next reads based on authors. A reading comfort zone – that’s what I have; I choose books by authors that I’ve read before because it’s likely that I’ll like whatever else they write, too. Sounds reasonable, right?

But what about other authors? What about all the books that I’ve moved back on my to-read pile because a new book came out by an author that I like? Is it safe to assume that we’ve all been guilty of this at one point in time or another?

Let’s talk comfort zones: that safe, warm little area of utter bliss that we create for ourselves to protect us rooted in the familiar and well-loved. Honestly, choosing books within my comfort zone is the majority of how I read. To pick up because you recognize the name and say “Oh! I love this author! I bet this is going to be good,” and buy it… Doesn’t seem like it’s hurting anyone. It’s a good thing. A safe thing.

Again, I’ll return to my previously posed question: But what about other authors? I find a book that I love and then decide to devour every other book by the same writer that I can get my hands on. Maybe that’s why I prefer series over stand-alone novels. Is it really such a bad thing to fall in love with a person’s writing style and their type of stories? You’ve got me there. I admit that I really do think of it as a good thing to find authors you love and just read through the list of what they’ve written. There is nothing wrong with having a favorite author or choosing books because they’re written by someone you’ve read previously. What becomes an issue is when a reader decides to limit themselves by never choosing books that aren’t by authors they’ve read. I can’t imagine someone doing that, so maybe that’s an exaggeration… But the idea stands! Explore. Don’t stick to the authors that you’re familiar with.

To expand that idea a bit, don’t stick to concept books. I went through a period of reading purely dystopia-based novels. Then I spent a couple months only reading fairy tale retellings. Sure, the phases only last for a while, but I found myself really just not wanting to read anything else. It takes a while to get out of grooves of one type of book. That’s why diversity in reading lists is key to keeping a reader on their toes for whatever is next!

So we covered authors and concepts. Heck, what about other genres?! It wasn’t until I joined a book club recently that I even considered reading books with an LGBT theme. No, not because I’m prejudice; it’s just that I’d never really thought about it because I’d never read anything like it before. When I finally did pick up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseI was stunned by how much I found myself, as a reader, craving to read more about a romance challenged by troubles that aren’t issues in heterosexual relationships. It was new, but it still had the familiarity of romance that I loved but just written in a vastly different context. Had I ever read anything by Benjamin Alire Sáenz before? Nope. Had I ever reading any novels with an LGBT theme before? Nope. Did the experience of stepping out of my comfort zone by picking up a book that I wouldn’t usually alter how I view my future preferences? Definitely.

I only read shoujo manga. Yep! I’m too exclusive with my manga TBR to allow other genres on it. Well, that was true until this morning. Even though I watch anime shows of different genres, I hadn’t considered reading a dark manga until just a few hours ago. Right now, Black Butler is the first non-shoujo manga to make it onto my reading list. (Thank you, goodreads suggestions!) Why? I think it’s time for a change. I’m too comfortable reading the light-hearted romance in manga that I gravitate towards. I’m hoping that Black Butler will open my eyes to varying my manga list more in the future, too. It’s time for me to get out of my comfort zone, even with my nightly manga reads!

Here is where I ask for suggestions. If any of you have novels/manga that you absolutely recommend, please comment and I’ll go through and add some to my reading list!

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