How book blogging keeps me inside my reading comfort zone

Hello, all! Today’s discussion is something that has been on my mind lately regarding book blogging and my reading habits, and I wanted to see if any of my other fellow blogger people feel the same way. Here’s the dilemma: I think book blogging has preventing me from venturing too far from my reading comfort zone.

I’ve always had fairly predictable taste in books: young adult, SFF, a smattering of literary, historical, and middle grade fiction. This is what I would classify as my comfort zone in terms of reading. Even before I started book blogging, I didn’t make a huge effort to branch out from these genres and categories. However, I’ve noticed recently that I’ve been making a subconscious effort to stay within my comfort areas.Β 

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So far in 2019, I have read exactly 101 books (smashed that Goodreads goal πŸ™Œ), the vast majority of which – according to my reading stats spreadsheet – are fantasy, science fiction, historical, and contemporary. I have read exactly one mystery, one classic, and two nonfiction books. One of my (admittedly rather vague) reading goals of this year was to branch out of my comfort zone and…I haven’t exactly been hitting that goal.

I have been picking up more adult books than I used to, which for a chronic YA reader feels like an accomplishment. Still, most of those books have been within genres that I’m already comfortable with, so it isn’t actually much of a stretch for me.

I could go into a whole different discussion about why I want to read outside of my comfort zone and why branching out is important, but I’ll leave it at this: two of those books from the aforementioned “non-comfort zone genres” have been two of the six (non-reread) 5 star ratings I’ve given this year, and certainly two of the most unexpected. It’s nice to find new favorites where I don’t expect.

All that said, I could be doing a lot better when it comes to broadening my reading.

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So what’s keeping me inside of my comfort zone?

Ever since I started book blogging, reading isn’t something I do just for fun anymore. Obviously, I still have fun doing it! But blogging has added a layer of obligation and complexity to something that used to simply be a pastime.

See, now I have to have opinions about the books I read.

Okay, I’ve always had opinions. That’s not the difficult part. The difference now is that I am expected to have informed and thoughtful opinions about books.

With books inside my comfort zone, this is easy. I’ve read enough fantasy to know the tropes and story structures, know when it’s cliche or predictable vs. unique and innovative. I know what I like and don’t like within that genre, so it’s easier to find fantasy books that check my boxes.

With, say, mystery books, I don’t know all of those tropes that seasoned mystery readers recognize. Something that shocks me might be seen as predictable to someone more familiar to these types of storylines. I also don’t know what I like in mystery books, so I don’t know if a book that I don’t like is a fluke or a strike against the entire genre.

Therefore, I don’t feel like I can give thoughtful opinions for these books outside my comfort zone, which is what I strive to do for every book I read. My reactions don’t feel entirely trustworthy even to myself. Would I still feel this way about a book if I were more well-versed in this genre? Is my viewpoint tinted by the fact that this genre is unfamiliar to me?

Additionally, I’ve noticed that the more I read in a genre, the more critical I become when reading those books. It’s not that I become cynical or negative toward them (I don’t think lol), but I’m able to see more clearly when authors are being truly original and creative, which means that those who aren’t get bumped down. I can’t see that in unfamiliar genres; I don’t have enough points of comparison. Are my ratings for those books, then, anything more than arbitrary?

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I don’t think it’s a conscious decision most of the time. Until fairly recently, I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It’s easy for me to stay within my reading comfort zone, since I have a TBR that’s literally hundreds of books long, mostly within that comfort zone. Nonetheless, there are books from other genres that have caught my eye, though rarely have I taken the next step to actually reading them.

There’s always this slight hesitation when I consider reading one of these books, this reminder that I have to review this.Β What will I say? Will I admit, as I know I have in the past, “I don’t usually read this genre so take my opinions with a grain of salt”? Will the people who read my review roll their eyes at my clear naΓ―vetΓ© with this genre? It’s so much easier to pass those books by and pick up one that I know I can give an informed review.

Not only that, but I feel like I’ve created a reading niche for myself that’s difficult to get out of. People who read my blog know that I read YA and SFF, so they don’t come here for mysteries or horror or nonfiction. (At least, that’s the way I perceive it. I’m sure people care a lot less than I think they do.)

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So what’s the solution?

I mean, the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging the problem, right? So there’s that step out of the way.

Frankly, if I want to read more books outside of my comfort zone, I need to be more intentional about it. Actively picking up books that I wouldn’t normally read and making an effort to broaden my reading is the best way I can break out of my comfort zone.

In regards to reviews, I think I basically need to just…get over myself. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈΒ I put this pressure on myself as a blogger to have interesting opinions on everything I read, but honestly the person who cares most about that is probably me. I can’t be an expert in every genre, but I still want to read widely, so I need to accept my areas of inexperience.

I wouldn’t be doing this book blogging thing if I didn’t love it, but sometimes it places pressure on me and impacts my reading in ways that I don’t even realize. I didn’t notice how much I stay in my comfort zone until recently. Now that I have, though, it’s important to me to stretch myself outside of that zone and try new things.

Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading YA anytime soon. πŸ˜‰

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I’m curious if other book bloggers have experienced something similar! Does blogging keep you in your comfort zone? What do you do to broaden your reading?

x MargaretΒ 

goodreads | twitterΒ | indiebound

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17 thoughts on “How book blogging keeps me inside my reading comfort zone

  1. 101 books already!!!?? I am struggling to reach my goal of 30 books for the year haha. I occasionally try reading things I wouldn’t read, like autobiographies or thrillers. But once you get hooked onto the genre there is no turning back!! which book are you currently reading? πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting that this is your view, because blogging has actually done the opposite to me and widened my comfort zone to books I would never pick up on my own that don’t sound interesting to me that receive such high praise from my friends that I know I have to read it!

    I think 100% you do NOT have to review every book that you read, and if you feel that you can’t give good critical feedback for a book, just don’t review it! I stared out reviewing every book I read, but now I probably only review about half, and honestly I’m much happier now that I don’t feel the pressure–if I don’t feel like reviewing it, I just don’t! Obviously that doesn’t work for ARCs, so I would suggest not requesting ARCs in genres you’re uncomfortable with, but just buying them yourself or checking them out from the library!

    Also if you do want to review them, that’s definitely great and there’s nothing wrong with a semi incoherent review (meaning my own reviews of course lmaoo not yours mine are sometimes a mess) just shouting your thoughts into the void and not necessarily being super informed or whatever. I guarantee that most people will not roll their eyes at your inexperience or whatever if you say you don’t usually review those genres, and if they do, then they’re not people whose opinions are worth mattering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for this lovely comment! That’s wonderful that you’ve found books outside your comfort zone through blogging – I think it’s been similar for me in that I hear about plenty of books but I don’t get around to actually READING them πŸ˜…

      And not reviewing them is definitely a good option. I try to have at least a few coherent thoughts on each book I read, even though I don’t do full reviews for most, and I guess I just need to become more okay with these thoughts not being perfect! In these instances, I’d say that I’m my own harshest critic, so I probably need to tone it down with my own expectations for myself πŸ˜‰ Thanks!!

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  3. Yay to 101 books already! How do you do it?! XD

    This is super interesting – I myself find that I am reading a little bit more of inside my comfort zone and out.

    I love being able to join in on hype so I read a lot more YA thrillers then before, but I also now read a lot more adult books due to recs.
    – Emma πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Haha I have no idea how I’ve read 101 books already…

      I definitely understand the want to get with whatever the hyped book at the moment is! The problem is that most of the books that are hyped up, at least in the parts of the book community that I usually engage in, are books that are already within my comfort zone πŸ˜… I definitely have gotten a ton of adult book recs through blogging, though!

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  4. Pingback: Links I’ve Enjoyed This Week – 15/09/19 #WeeklyRoundUpPost πŸ”—πŸ“† πŸ”— #SecretLibraryBookBlog – Secret Library Book Blog

  5. What an interesting perspective. I get how sometimes with book blogging reading doesn’t just feel like endless fun and how it isn’t entirely yours anymore, but I think you may be too critical of yourself!

    It is always great to get out of your comfort zone, but if you’re enjoying what you’re reading that is also important.

    Some of my favorite blogs are eclectic and don’t take their posts too seriously. Good luck with your reading goals and I hope you find a way out of your comfort zone, even for a little while, this year!
    I also like what you said about having thoughtful opinions. It is admirable to have an expertise. I will say though that people are coming here to read your opinions. So if they are hear for a lot of YA and you come up with an adult mystery you love tell them why! They like your taste. If you don’t understand the tropes that’s fine, explain why it worked for you in that case and your readers can decide if it sounds amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, enjoying what I’m reading is definitely important for me! πŸ˜‰ With the books that are within my comfort zone, I feel like there’s more of a chance that I’ll enjoy them, though it is always nice when I try something new and really like it. Thanks for your comment!!

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  6. I think I do stay in my reading comfort zone but I don’t know whether blogging has influenced that πŸ€” I suppose it has, because the community I’m in tends to talk about certain types of books so I never get exposed to anything outside of that. Usually when I branch out it’s books I find in bookstores, not ones I see mentioned in the blogosphere. This was a very interesting discussion, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, I think the community (at least, the parts of the community that I’m in) tend to talk about certain kinds of books, which I guess is also a part of the reason I don’t branch out more – I worry that no one will be interested! Glad to hear you relate – thank you! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally relate to this. I pretty much read contemporaries all the time (across age groups), and I struggle with reviews for books in other genres. Right now, I am supposed to be writing a review for a paranormal book I finished this morning, but I am avoiding it, because I have no clue what to say, though, I did enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Margaret!! Wow good job on your Goodreads goal!! 101 books is quite a feat!
    I love your choice of discussion topic and it’s amazing that you are reflecting on how book blogging affects your choice of books. I think book blogging keeps me in my comfort zone as well, though in a different way. For me, I gravitate towards reading YA even before book blogging, however being surrounded by the YA book blogging community and hearing about all the YA books that people read and love… I read more and more YA haha. Because of this I think I read less books in the adult category.
    In terms of hesitating to choose a book because I feel less comfortable reviewing it? I do feel this way when it comes to classics, but everything else for me is fair game haha. A book is a book is a book I think, and whether we are familiar with the genre and its tropes or not, we are entitled to our opinion. I think being new to a genre might even bring a fresh perspective πŸ™‚
    Great post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sophie!! Haha yep I think the fact that the blogging community tends to talk about YA definitely contributes to staying in the comfort zone…I want to be able to join in the conversations people are having! And that’s awesome that you don’t worry too much about reviewing books outside your usual genres – what a great point, too, that your unfamiliarity brings a fresh perspective πŸ˜€ Thanks so much for your comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

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