The Comfort Zone: thoughts from the guru
So far, 2013 hasn’t been a good year in the way of reading. 26 books into the year, and all I had to show for it was a stack of unremarkable, decent-but-not-great reads. 26 books is a long time to go without a book you really love—at least for me it is. I was stuck in a rut of bad books, and I thought to myself: what am I doing wrong?
The answer, really, was quite simple: I’d crossed the border into 2013, but my comfort zone didn’t make the trip with me. For 26 books I was busy trying new things, following the hype, reading books I wanted to read but not ones that necessarily wanted me to read them. I didn’t take the time to regroup, head back to base camp and get my head on straight before I ran off to try the next crazy/weird thing on my to-read list.
See, I have a comfort zone: contemporary/realistic YA fiction and classic lit, and for the last four weeks, I’ve ignored its existence. I’m all for trying new things, branching out, broadening horizons, etc., but there’s something reassuring about going back to a place you know you’re good. Nobody really likes reading bad book after terrible book after oh-gawd-it-burns-us book. So while there’s really no such thing as a sure thing, chances are that if you head back inside your comfort zone, you’ll enjoy what you read.
Sometimes readers just don’t want to branch out. Aliens don’t interest them, Classic literature is so boring and long-winded, girly books are pool trash and an embarrassment to own. That’s definitely a bit silly. Like your mom always said at the dinner table: how do you know you won’t like it if you haven’t tried it? I mean, if you’ve genuinely attempted to get through Dickens and he’s really just not for you, totally fine! But if you’ve cocooned yourself so deep inside your comfort zone that you aren’t open to new experiences, fine.
Yet maybe at the same time, it’s possible to be too open. I think some of my reading ruts happened when I was attempting to read things I either didn’t have a true interest in or just couldn’t click with, over and over and over again. I got burned out. There’s a safety inside that comfort zone. You know that maybe you won’t adore this book, the probability is higher than with anything else.
For me, it’s definitely a fine line that I have to walk. I can read some paranormal fiction every once in a while, but too much drains me and ruins my reading mojo. I need to remember to throw in some contemporary titles, or take a break from quick reads and crack open Dickens (who, incidentally, I do enjoy). Reading too much of anything—even books from within your comfort zone—can mess with you. Balance is key. Don’t be too shy of trying new genres, but don’t be afraid to retreat to your old fallback if things don’t work out.
—this has been a message from Zen Guru Sensei Master Renae. Her upcoming self-help manual, Discovering Your Reading Mojo: Reading What You Love, will be available by owl post to select customers in the Year of Chocolate Cake and Skinny-dipping. Stay tuned!
So…any thoughts? What’s your reading comfort zone? Do you sometimes stray away from books you love and find yourself in need of a comfort book? Have you had any disastrous attempts to read outside the zone? When you get in a reading rut, what helps you get out?