Many readers are quite bad for stepping out of their reading comfort zones, well, anyone is quite bad about stepping out of their comfort zones, that’s why it’s called a comfort zone. Admittedly, it can be a struggle for us to pick up that high fantasy novel that’s been recommended over and over again. Or grab that classic that we know we should read but are a little intimidated by it. But occasionally (or very rarely) we step out of our comfort zones and find something we absolutely love.
For me (Sarah), my comfort zone is realistic fiction and young adult fiction. So some of these to pick up were a struggle, but I can promise you they are well worth it!
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The first book that I ever picked up out of the comfort zone was The Catcher In The Rye. A few years ago, anything that was counted as a ‘classic’ threw me in to a terrified panic that I wouldn’t be able to understand the writing or the story, and therefore when people asked me about it I would basically look like an idiot. But I cannot express how much I enjoyed this novel and how deeply in love I fell with the story. So much so I chose to study it for a full year. Salinger writes about Holden, a young boy who keeps getting kicked out of his schools. He has to choose whether to explore New York and make a new ‘adult’ life for himself, or return back to his parents home and face their disappointment. I wasn’t expecting a ‘classic’ to be so relatable and easy to read. If you don’t think you’d enjoy this novel, I challenge you to give it a try.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Anything that seemed historical terrified me. I’m not the brightest spark when it comes to history, although I really love to learn about it. So admittedly, picking up Between Shades Of Gray worried me a lot. I only ended up reading it due to the fact Regan from PeruseProject kept talking about it. Lina is the focus of this novel as her and her family are taken by Soviet Guards and are imprisoned as slaves. I know very little about the Russian side of World War 2, so reading this really taught me a few things. It also made me a lot more sympathetic to the ‘normal’ people that were caught up amongst the tragedy. In reality, this novel is a young adult novel and quite easy to read and get in to.
My personal comfort zone (Sophie) also includes young adult and realistic fiction, as well as modern classics. I’ve more recently started to step out of this comfort zone.
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
I have to admit, before reading this (which I did for a module at university) I had always avoided graphic novels and comic books. I’m not really sure why, I just felt like I wouldn’t like the fact they are heavily based on images (ironic since I adore film and completed a degree in Film Studies.) V for Vendetta follows the eponymous V, an anarchist planning to bring down the fascist government in a dystopian near future. It has a complex and fascinating narrative and the characters really are brilliantly written, my personal favourite being Evey. I have become much more open to graphic novels and comic books now and have planned to read many more! The artwork really adds more dimensions to the story and allows for further creativity, shown brilliantly in V for Vendetta.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Another novel I read for my course, Pride and Prejudice is something I never planned to read. Although I personally love modern classics, I have always been put off by the older ones, mainly because I was worried I would not enjoy, or even understand, the writing style. I am also not a massive romance novel fan so that put me off too. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed the famous love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. I did not find it difficult to read and I was not bored by the romance elements. Elizabeth’s sharp wit is a great aspect and I thoroughly enjoyed the writing of it.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I will be honest and admit I have still not finished this (I’m 78% through it though!) however so far I have really loved this famously long historical classic. I began reading it to purposely to take myself out of my comfort zone and also to challenge myself. I love narratives with multiple points of views and this has many! Admittedly, there are a couple I was less interested in (Levin seemed to have a large section near the middle which lasted much too long) but overall I loved the different characters. It’s taking me a long time to read it and I often stop and start and read large chunks in one go, but it’s definitely worth the effort.