Reading is Hard

The best laid plans, right? I wrote so much about the Read Harder Challenge in an effort to fully commit to it. Then I got 30 pages into one romance novel and immediately dropped it for the latest of Geneveive Cogman’s Invisible Library series. Which was great, by the way.

Cover for Genevieve Cogman's The Lost Plot features two wolves in the  upper left and right corners, a flapper girl in 1920s dress in the bottom left corner, and a man in a zoot suit in the bottom right corner. Reads "A covert mission; A royal demand; And a race against time" above the title.

Here’s the thing: I love picking up books randomly at the library and trying new things, but there are definitely “genres” that I gravitate toward, even when I’m just browsing. My ill-defined genres of choice are as follows:

  • anything spooky;
  • intergenerational sagas with lots of drama (I have never read The Thorn Birds, but I bet I would like it);
  • books featuring a Strong Female Lead;
  • anything weird.

In the past six years, as I was recovering from an English degree, I’ve been trying to discover what I actually like to read — rather than what I had to read for my degree. (To be fair, I really enjoyed a lot of the reading I did for my degree.) Sometimes, though, I feel like I’ve boxed myself into a very narrow range of books, and I don’t have a lot of incentive to step outside those bounds. Now that I’m exploring the world of readers’ advisory as part of my MLIS degree, I feel the need to push myself. But it’s a struggle! Maybe I need to do more homework to see what books within a particular drama might resonate with me more, or maybe I need to throw out my “30 page rule”: if I don’t love it within ~30 pages, I’ll put it down and maybe come back to it later.

My philosophy for pleasure reading has always been: life is short, and there are LOTS of books to read. Why waste time on a book you’re not dying to finish? I am both wary of losing the joy in reading by forcing myself to read things I’m just not that into; AND of missing out on great books because they’re not spooky/weird/feminist enough.

How do you commit to reading outside of your comfort zone? What habits help you commit to reading books you’re lukewarm about? How do you find joy in those books?

Read Harder: Getting Outside of my Comfort Zone

Given the fact that I am currently not working, I wanted to challenge myself to read outside of my comfort zone. Knowledge of other genres outside of supernatural/horror/fantasy/weird fiction might also help me in my future career as a bad ass librarian. So I decided to see if I could make some headway on Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge.

Not all of the challenges were actually challenges for me. In fact, when I went through the list, there were at least four challenges I could immediately cross off – and probably more if I wanted to push it. For instance, while I’m not sure I would say I hated the cover of The Prey of Gods, if I was judging by its cover, I probably never would have picked it up. Also, it was sci-fi written by a female author, but it had multiple protagonists, some of whom were female. Does that count for #17? I erred on the side of caution, and decided one book shouldn’t count for more than two challenges. Continue reading “Read Harder: Getting Outside of my Comfort Zone”