Reading Comfort Zones // Being Stuck in One, Analyzing Why, and Formulating a Plan

I recently came across a video talking about reading being a skill. The person discussed how if you only read young adult books then your skill won't grow, it'll atrophy. He wanted to read books outside of his comfort zone so he can get into a dense classic or something like that to improve his reading skill. The discussion he was having has had me thinking for a couple of weeks about my own reading. I've looked at what I've been reading this year and the majority is middle grade (to be expected since I am actively trying to read more since I am a children's librarian) and YA or Manga. My plan this year was to go with the flow but also read out of my comfort zone. I've read some good books whether they be for young readers or not but I keep on thinking about how I've stopped myself before I hit the two hundred pages mark with bigger books because I've realized it's going to take me forever to finish. I've read complex sci-fi and fantasy before but probably because I wasn't focused on the page count so I kept going. I still can't believe I randomly read Oliver Twist in my early twenties and it wasn't for a class. The thing is I've rarely done this. I have gone out of my comfort zone in the past couple of years but I haven't even tried this year. I wanted to see why by analyzing my last three reading years.

The Last Three Years

But first, I want you all to know that I discovered when I first joined Storygraph that I've read more than six hundred YA books. I'm now reading only ones I am interested in but of course now that I've gotten into manga the ones I am reading are YA. But look how ridiculous this graph looks:

According to Storygraph I've read 1,427 books. Of those 655 are classified as YA. That's 46% of my reading. It's a lot. If middle grade is 15% then that means I've read the majority kids books my entire life. Which is fine with me... well only for the fact that that's how I fell in love with reading. By reading voraciously as a teen which went on to my twenties. Now that I've gotten older I'd rather have fantasy, my top genre, be #1 on this list. I love this graph because it shows me all the little genres I am sort of interested in even if they include the YA and middle grade books. Some of my other highly read genres on my list include: contemporary at 283 books read, romance - 263 books, mystery - 135 (surprised me), historical - 58, science fiction - 55, and horror - 46. I'd love to explore more genres but I simply stay in my comfort zone.

Let's Actually Talk About the Last Three Years

But first... I find I was usually a lot more adventurous with my reading since I was a kid but especially when I really got into reading back in  2011 / 2012. I would pick up anything that piqued my interest and would even read indie books. I got into memoirs at one point and my love of them has still persisted. 2018 things shifted because of career indecisiveness and having to figure out where I would go from there. I read 56 books according to Goodreads (Storygraph doesn't like picture books) most of them were picture books. But there was one book that made me want to read a little bit different especially since I felt so off about my life. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Kong. It completely revitalized me and my reading. I felt like it understood me at that point in my life. It felt like it was destined to be read by me right then and there. So my reading in 2019 changed...


I was pretty down on myself but went forward into working on a Masters including being a Page and then Librarian Intern in my library system. 2019 was wild. My reading was everywhere. I read 138 books. I picked up Patricia Briggs, biographies came back on the scene with books like Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter. I read adult fantasy, mystery, and horror. I read translated Japanese books. I read adult contemporary. I read a nonfiction book about poetry. I was all over the place again. At some point, I just picked up random books that looked interesting, and even if I didn't like them at least I gave them a shot. I was adventurous and I wanted to continue in the next year.


A year of major changes and challenges. I got into more adult romances which I had in the past but not to this extent. I read historical romances for the first time which was a new experience. Manga was making a comeback from when I was a kid. Nature, Horror, and Sci-Fi books were a thing I was reading now. A classic and a historical book could be found among my favorite reads of the year. I even read a long chain of books by Latino authors even if they were YA and middle grade reads mostly. I still read a bunch of YA and kids' books but I felt like I was actually growing as a reader.


This year I continued the trend of reading not only adult books but ones out of my comfort zone like horror, literary fiction, thrillers, sci-fi, and even poetry. But this year really wore me down. I mean the last three years did but it felt a bit too much so that's why in 2022 I wanted to get out of my comfort zone but be kind to myself with my reading.

2022 So Far

So what happened? My reading has been pretty good this year with some stellar middle grade, manga, and rereads upping my overall star rating to the current 3.89. But I'm not exploring books like I used to. I'm not diving into random books. I clearly want to with the purchases I've made this year but I haven't made the effort. 

Back to reading as a skill... I tend to do the easy things in life. I think that's why there are a lot of readers out of the age group who read mainly YA and now popular romance that is just as fast-paced. Reading is fun and no one should ever feel pressured to read anything they don't want to because it is after all a hobby. But since I love reading so much I think about these things. 

  • What stories am I missing out on by staying in this safe bubble? 
  • Is it just too hard to get out of it because I've been stuck in it for so long? I have made the effort before so why not now? 
  • Maybe since I am a children's librarian I feel pressured to read mainly children's books (although I will still read them because they are not only fun but they will help me be a better librarian)?
  • My reading routine is atrocious and I don't prioritize my favorite hobby. Is that it?
  • It takes longer to read a challenging book. By the time I finish, I could have read three easier books.
  • How do I get out of my comfort zone? Does it matter?

My Reading So Far

I've only read eight adult books (one of them being a comic)

All these questions in my head... I obviously want to change my reading. I love this hobby but I don't want to be stuck with reading books I've always read. I want to surprise myself. 

Where I Would Like to Be at the End of the Year

I don't want to be reading only literary fiction or serious works. I am not going to abandon all my middle grade or YA manga books. I want to read them and I will. I do have the sense, however, that I am dumbing myself down by not reading adult fiction and nonfiction. I think it's time again that I explore the adult book world by adding in books out of my comfort zone little by little. Whether it's an adult book in my favorite genre or a genre I want to read more of. I've got a plan and since I am loving reading right now I am going with it.

  • Mood reading is good. I am in a historical fiction mood thanks to a middle grade book I read so I am going with the flow as long as you include adult reads is a step up.
  • Add 20 adult books to your reading total. That means 4 books a month. Totally doable.
  • Progress through one big book once a month or finish one big book a month. This will most likely be with high fantasy or nonfiction.
  • Read at least one of the following genres: high fantasy, science fiction, horror, historical, mystery/thriller, classic, and nonfiction.
  • Don't let YA pass middle grade in Storygraph (fantasy is first, romance is second, middle grade and young adult are tied for third)
  • Pick one random book you never would have thought you would read this year.
  • (Bonus) - Pick one random book you've never heard of by browsing the library.

This is my plan for getting out of my comfort zone and challenging myself to read more adult books. I'm ready to experiment with some unexpected books for the rest of the year!


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