Posted in Chatty

What kinds of things push you to read outside your comfort zone?

Hey y’all! I just started a book for my book club this month and it was making me think about reasons that I’ll read a book I might not usually try. In this case, it’s a book that I had my eye on when it originally came out, but I was on the fence with.

On the one hand, Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi intrigued me with its basic premise of a time-traveling cafe with very precise rules. On the other hand, I’ve read other literary works by Japanese authors that weren’t really my favorite (looking at you, 1Q84!) and worry this might end up in the same vein (though I don’t want that to come across as generalizing all Japanese authors of course — it just seemed like this might have the same kind of vibe).

But here I am reading it, because my book club chose it for a pick! I actually voted for it as well, because I wanted to have a reason to give it a chance. When we were debating if we should do just book one, or the first two since they’re fairly short, I was super blunt and said I’d just read the first and if I liked it would try the second, but no guarantee. Everyone laughed and agreed and we settled on reading the first for sure and maybe the second.

So here I’m thinking about other reasons that I might try a book outside my usual and wanted to see if y’all had anything that’s pushed you as well (and if it was worth it or not!!).

Book club(s)

Of course! The in person one that started all of this is an example of course, but I also have Aardvark Book Club as a subscription that has had me try some I would not otherwise have tried or maybe even heard about. Most recently, I finished How to Turn Into a Bird by María José Ferrada and while my first impression upon finishing was just ?????? I did enjoy it and am glad I read it. And there’s some interesting discussion about it in the Aardvark app! Anyway, that’s just an example.

Finding a cheap used book

I will often go to some of my favorite second hand bookshops with the express intent of buying books I’ve never heard of and maybe wouldn’t usually look at. When a book is a dollar or a few dollars and supporting a good cause, I’m usually willing to give it a shot when I might not usually! Some on my shelf from this are Inland by Tea Obreht and The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama.

Reading challenges

Whether it’s reading by a certain author demographic (from a certain country, LGBTQ, BIPOC, etc), or bookish bingo, or any other kind of reading challenge, these often have prompts that can open me up to books I wouldn’t otherwise have seen or tried. Even if the challenge itself isn’t one that might inherently move me in various directions, seeing what other people read to meet the prompts can get me curious!

Browsing random displays at the library

Like nonfiction! I went CRAZY with nonfiction reading last year (by my standards anyway) and a lot of that was thanks to just checking out the displays the library had up! I would never know what to look for in nonfiction without that guidance, and I’ve found some awesome books that way (Exhibit A: Review: Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori. Exhbit B: Review: The Office BFFs by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey).

These are some of the reasons I could think of that I’ve tried books outside my usual before! What has made you give a chance to a book you might usually overlook? (And how did you feel about the book?) Let me know below if there are any other gems of titles I may have missed!


Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

8 thoughts on “What kinds of things push you to read outside your comfort zone?

  1. Honestly for me to give a book a try the synopsis just has to sound intriguing to me. I will literally read anything that way. Of course there are genres I reach for more than other but I never say I will never read this particular genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great attitude! I bet you have a really wide range of what you end up encountering. I’m willing to give anything a chance too, but I do have my usual habits and those then tend to be what I see most of, so it’s a cycle. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The biggest reason I will read outside of my comfort zone is if a book was gifted to me. In those cases, I feel like I owe it to the person who gave me the book to at least try it… no promises that I’ll finish, but I should at least try it. (Though these days, people who buy me books usually go off my wishlist and those books are in my comfort zone.) Recommendations from people are up there as a reason, too. (But to be honest? I have to actually care about the person’s opinion. A random stranger in a bookshop has no impact on me reading a book.)

    Sometimes, though, a book will just sound interesting enough that I’ll decide to try it even though it’s not my usual type of book. And sometimes it actually works, and I find a book to enjoy that I wouldn’t normally have picked up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That last category is my favorite! It’s awesome when whims work.

      I totally forgot about “recommendations” but I think that’s because I really don’t get many directly given to me. Gifts of books come from my boyfriend who usually sneaks around on my Goodreads TBR for ideas. It’s interesting to see what he picks though, and sometimes they’re books I added with some hesitancy and the gift gives me a perfect chance to try it 🙂

      A lady on a train once recommended me the book So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell and I was so excited that I still haven’t read it (six years later??) because I love the magic of having it as an option, this wonderful moment of connection with a stranger on the train. It worked for me. 🥰


      1. That’s a really neat moment! I historically have had co-workers recommend books to me, and with the exception of one or two, they seemed to pick “the hot new literary sensation” rather than suggesting books that they actually thought I might like. For some of them, I think they made the rec solely because they thought it would make them sound cool. No neat encounters with a book rec on the train for me, at least not yet. 😉


    1. Great point, I can’t believe I forgot that most obvious one! Tthere are definitely some bloggers who I know I usually have similar taste too so if I see them recommend something I’m usually willing to give it a shot. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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