I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately: how do you balance reading books that you genuinely want to read and know you’ll enjoy, with also trying to read out of your comfort zone a bit more? I cannot figure out how to do both and be happy about it.
For example, I joined Romanceopoly with the intention of reading some fun books. When I made my tentative TBR post / list of ideas, I came across quite a few squares with prompts that don’t interest me usually. I don’t read paranormal romance and have historically not loved it but there are so many squares within that genre. Fated mates? Ugh. Oldest paranormal romance on my TBR? Double ugh.
I rolled my dice for February’s picks and groaned at both of them – I got the paranormal romance one (oldest on my TBR or recommendation from a friend) and the other roll was for a historical romance not set in London. I could very easily read a historical fiction book NOT set in London, but the romance element isn’t my cup of tea. BUT how do I know that? I’ve never read a Tessa Dare or Lisa Kleypas before. Maybe I’ll love it, but I’m stubborn. I’m finding myself unwilling to give up precious reading time to something I’m not sure about and it doesn’t feel great.
I read about 10 books a month, give or take. That really doesn’t feel like a lot when you have hundreds of possible books – within genres and topics you LOVE – to read each month. So how can I find the time to carve out a book or two that are out of my comfort zone? I’m hoping I end up falling in love and have no issue with reading them but my brain is like “NO don’t waste your time – you have enough to read!”
It’s the same argument that a lot of us use when we talk about WANTING to reread old favorites but not being able to give up reading time for ~new books~ by rereading old ones instead. I’ve found ways to make that work (yes mostly audiobooks and only rereading when catching up on a series) so maybe there are some ways to make it work for spending time reading books outside of my comfort zone too.
Things I’m hoping to do to easily get out of my comfort zone:
1. Read a novella that fits the prompt instead of a full-length novel
For prompts that are really not my cup of tea specifically, this may work well. Instead of reading a full-length novel for a prompt I’m not sure about, I can read a shorter novella instead and check off the box. With any luck it’ll only take me a day or less to read the book – maybe even on my work computer during a lunch break or two – so why not? I’m sure they’ll be some free ones online too if I dive into self-published books.
2. Go with the popular choices that friends love or you’ve heard a lot about, because they’re probably popular for a reason
There are a few book covers in the middle of this post for a reason. When I got these two prompts, I had a lot of trusted bloggers and friends give me great suggestions. I’d heard of all these books and authors before too! Their books are clearly popular for a reason, so why not start with the “best” options out there? If I’m going to read my first real historical romance, why shouldn’t it be Tessa Dare? If I’m going to read a fated mates paranormal romance, why wouldn’t it be the Black Dagger Brotherhood series I’ve heard so much about since I started blogging? Again, these books are popular and discussed heavily as favorites for a reason, so why not start with the top and see what I think?
3. Try an audiobook while multi-tasking
I usually have an audiobook in progress and try to get to a couple per month. I wouldn’t be able to fully focus on listening to an audiobook while working every day, but there are some days where I definitely could. I have to file paperwork and I bet I could get away with some headphones and an audiobook! If I’m not 100% sure I want to read the book, I don’t have a problem putting one on in the background on my computer and casually listening to check the box off.
4. Stretch the limits of the category/prompt if all else fails
I was thinking that if ALL else fails for the prompts, I can stretch the limits. For example, one of the prompts asks you to read a book specifically from the hosts’ book girlfriend list, and I personally don’t love that idea? There aren’t a lot of books on their list so I would rather not be limited in that way (especially based on the genres already being out of my comfort zone). I thought I would change that prompt to read a book on someone else’s book girlfriend list, or read a book with “girl” in the title, or something like that. I’m not going to live and die by the exact wording for this challenge – it’s meant to be fun.