5 Ways to Break Out of Your Reading Comfort Zone

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Category: Reading

I’ve grown all too familiar with the disappointed look on my dad’s face when I tell him I still haven’t read the contemporary fiction novel he lent me some time ago. Now here’s the issue: most of the books I read are classics. Not that I don’t enjoy modern books, I just have more experience with classic fiction. I covered next to no contemporary fiction at university and feel like I barely scratched the surface of classic books I wanted to read.

But there comes a time for every reader when engaging with the same type of book can get a bit stale. Experiencing new genres can be a great way to renew your enthusiasm for reading and will satisfy any parental recommendations that come your way. So below are five tips to help you break the mould and start reading something new!

Read something you think you hate

Remember that food you used to despise to your very core when you were a youngster before revisiting it later in life and realising you actually really liked it? The same thing often happens with books: as we develop our reading our tastes can change, meaning books we would never have read previously may now be really interesting to us. So why not give your least favourite genre a try? Either way you will be a winner: if you end up despising every page you will be vindicated in your impeccable taste and instinct; and if you really enjoy it you will have an entirely new genre to explore as well as being able to congratulate yourself on your non-discriminatory mind.  

Ask your friend to recommend a book

It’s easy to get a bit narrow-minded in the types of books you read

Reading is a very insular and personal experience and the books we engage with say a lot about who we are as individuals. As a result, it’s easy to get a bit narrow-minded in the types of books you read. Asking a friend or family member to recommend a book can be a great way to discover a new author, genre or style of writing which you may not have chosen yourself. Be aware that if you are borrowing the book from the person recommending it you may have to suppress your tendency to fold corners down to keep your place as some people find that more than a little bit annoying…

Pick a book at random

I admit, I would find this one very difficult indeed. As somebody who likes time to consider every option (extensive restaurant menus are not my friends), the idea of just picking up a random book without finding out more about it is very alien. However, going into something with no expectations is often a very healthy approach. Think about when you are trying to find a film to see at the cinema: you’ll watch a trailer, check its imdb and Rotten Tomatoes scores and then read some reviews before deciding if it’s worth your time and money. But have you ever had that nagging feeling that it might have been nicer to have gone into the film with no prior knowledge or expectations? Why not take a chance on a completely random book?

Read some travel writing

Authors can inspire readers to travel to new and exciting locations across the world

Often overlooked, travel writing provides windows into different cultures across the world. Evoking vivid and compelling portraits of the places they've visited, authors can inspire readers to travel to new and exciting locations across the world. There are a number of great writers known primarily for fiction who have equally good examples of travel writing, including Evelyn Waugh, Robert Louis Stevenson and Laurie Lee. So if you’re feeling starved of inspiration for your next holiday, why not check out some travel writing?

Read closer to home

Ever found yourself wondering more about the area you are from and what interesting people have come before you? Engaging with books written about your local area or written by authors from there will make you feel more engaged and connected to the area. It’s easy to take for granted a place you have spent so much time in, but everybody can benefit from learning more about the history of their hometown. You can also avoid the embarrassment of not being able to direct tourists to the well-known landmark you’ve overlooked your entire life. 

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