Most of us stick to what we know and love, but to grow as a person, we have to step outside of our comfort zone. We have to explore the regions of discomfort to understand ourselves and the world a little more. Reading outside of your comfort is an easy and safe way to explore the unknown. Reading about experiences outside of your own allows you to grow and sympathise more with others around you. You’ll get to experience a different perspective on life, and maybe even explore a whole different world.
I’ve got four tips to step out of your comfort zone. It’s always a little bit scary, so mixing in some of the comforts from home and the adventure of the unknown is recommended. You don’t need to start with a thousand pages long classic written over fifty years ago just because ‘it’s on the Best of-list’. Make small steps, do your research, and ask for help if you don’t know where to begin. This isn’t a journey you have to make alone. Not even with a solitary activity like reading.
In the reading blogosphere and reader groups, you’ll often find reading challenges being hosted on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Some of these are hosted as bingos, like the r/fantasy reading challenge I’m doing, or themed prompts.
Since you’re probably not the one making these challenges, you’ll often see prompts that the edges of your comfort zone. In the r/fantasy bingo, there’s a First Contact square. I don’t read a lot of science fiction and you don’t see the first contact theme that often in fantasy. That’s not to say it isn’t there, but you’ve to put some effort into finding it. This means you’ll find new authors, new books, and heck, maybe you’ll give a whole other genre a go. Why not? It’s just this one book and you don’t have to like it.
Recommendations from friends
Asking your friends for a recommendation will probably give you a varied list of books. Even if you like the same kind of books, they’ll often read different books than you too. It’s also another chance to bond with them and share an experience. Maybe you don’t like their recommendation, talk about it and explore why you didn’t and they did. They’ll appreciate the effort you took to read the book anyhow.
Book bloggers, bookstagram, and booktube
Social media is filled with book lovers. We’re everywhere. And since we love books, love talking about them, asking us about books is our favourite thing. Book tags are pretty common these days and also explore different sides of a bigger theme. Reading reviews and checking the comments will often give you more recommendations, so don’t forget to check those.
Ask a bookseller or librarian
Go to the bookstore or library and ask a bookseller or librarian for any titles that might sidestep from your usual reads. They know books, it’s their job, and they’ll probably surprise you with recommendations. They’ll also know pretty well which books you might like if you want to try a new genre but like a particular writing style. Don’t be shy, I’m sure they’ll be delighted to help find your next favourite author.
Where do you find new books that are outside of your comfort zone? Drop the title of the book that surprised you the most this year. For me, I’d say is Rosewater by Tade Thompson. Last year’s was Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.