I have a rather huge question, today, that (as all good questions tend to do) has no “correct” answer. Which is why I’m just going to throw it at your faces and DEMAND you tell me your opinions. Because I’m a delightful human like that.
SHOULD WE READ OUTSIDE OF OUR COMFORT ZONES? HMM? SHOULD WE?!
It’s a complicated question, I concur. So we should discuss it.
Reading is, supposedly, a hobby. And hobbies suck if they’re not pleasurable. Scrubbing frypans is not a “hobby” of mine, yet…I’m always doing it. What even is bacon’s problem? It just leaves a catastrophe behind. So, if we read for downtime or escapism or pleasure or knowledge, then shouldn’t it be fun?
By the way, small disclaimer here, I’m NOT talking about required reading for school or university or whatnot. I’m talking about books you pick up to read on your onesome.
Reading books we don’t like IS NOT FUN.
It can be impossible to have fun reading a book in a genre you just. do. not. like.
For instance: I struggle to get on well with classics. I just…nope. There are a few I like (basically Alice in Wonderland and Treasure Island because it is the reason Treasure Planet exists and Treasure Planet is a reminder of humanity’s excellence in film creations…but I digress) but if you asked me to read something by Jane Austen or George Orwell, I would die. My brain melts. IT DOES NOT WORK FOR ME. I’ve tried Orwell, but not Austen.
I haven’t had any luck with steampunk either. And YA horror never scares me. It’s usually quite ludicrous. When I see specimens of their kinds on the shelves, I avoid without trying.
But if you don’t try a genre, how do you know you won’t like it?!
Once upon a time, I used to be a strict Historical Fiction reader. This is because I grew up on it! It’s what was cosy and safe and entertaining. So what if I’d stuck on historical fiction? What if I’d never discovered URBAN FANTASY (which is probably my favourite genre in the world)?!! What if I’d never discovered dystopian?! Or…or…dragons? Or FAIRY TALE RETELLINGS? I’m having a heart palpitation here.
Just think, if Little Cait hadn’t crept outside her comfort zone, she wouldn’t spend 79% of her blogging time raving about Maggie Stiefvater. Which you should read, like, all her books. Now. THAT THOUGHT IS TERRIFYING AND HORRENDOUS.
Still…reading outside our comfort zones is fraught with risk.
We might find gold. We might also waste precious hours. And what happens when your well-intending friends try to convince you in a genre you just don’t like? What if you’ve been burned by a genre, decided you hate it, and then miss out on other brilliant books because of this??
Unfortunately, life is short, there are too many books, and we only have two eyeballs.
Is it worth attempting to read all the books just to see if you find an unexpected gem? Or should you read what you KNOW and LIKE and therefore give glowing reviews, enjoy yourself immensely during your limited reading-time, and fall in love with marvellous worlds you adore?
Is it okay to be a “niche reader”? We can’t be expected to like everything, right? I, personally, am widely-read (well, in YA). I have preferences, but I’m not solely glued to one genre. But not everyone is like this! And that’s okay. I’m just extraordinarily nosey.
I don’t think there’s a “right” or “wrong” answer to any of these questions. I DO NOT. Personally? I get tired of trying New Adult books in hopes one has a plot. (So far, having a plot in NA isn’t popular.) I do not want to try more. Instead, I could read more Cassandra Clare and enjoy Shadowhunters and Downworlders, which rock my world, instead! See?! IT’S HARD TO KNOW WHAT TO DO.
All I know for certain is that I hate and loathe reading books that don’t mesh with me. I don’t like leaving sucky reviews. I don’t like wasting time.
Shouldn’t I pick up books I know I’ll enjoy? Shouldn’t I listen to my “tastes” and discover my reading niche? Should I eat bacon despite the mess it leaves in the frying pan?
Okay…wait. That last question doesn’t fit? Eh. OH WELL. It’s a good question anyway. The answer to eating bacon is always: yes.