Reading Outside Your Favorite Genre

by Lexi Cooper, Editor

I love to read science fiction and fantasy. It is my favorite genre. Yet sometimes I feel pressure to read outside my favorite genre. Sometimes when I tell people I like to read, they expect me to being reading something sophisticated like The Grapes of Wrath (especially because I majored in English Literature), but when I tell them I’m reading a book about people with superpowers, sometimes they get an odd look on their faces.

I’m not here to talk about whether or not reading speculative fiction has any merit (of course it does). But, I do wonder if that should be the only genre I read. There is a reason that the classics are considered classic (usually); they have a lot to offer. And what about other genres? Mystery, romance, thriller, historical fiction. Many people love these genres. And then, of course, there’s non-fiction, such as self-help, finance, religion, memoirs, science, and philosophy books. I know these books have a lot of value and can teach so much.

Libraries are great places to find a new favorite genre
House of the Temple’s Library – Washington, DC

Yet whenever I’m in a bookstore or library, I go straight to the fiction section and often straight to the sci-fi fantasy section. It’s what I love, and I’m not ashamed of that.

That said, I do think that it can be bad to only ever read one genre. In school, I read many other kinds of books that I ended up loving that I would have never read if it weren’t required for a class. Thinking about those books makes me want to diversify my reading and find more books to love.

So why should you and I consider reading outside our favorite genres? Here are some benefits to expanding your reading taste:

Benefits to Reading Outside Your Favorite Genre

Finding a New Favorite

Until you read that biography that’s been sitting on your shelf ever since your grandma gave it to you, you’ll never know if you’ll love it. Reading a new genre may very well open a door of possibilities for new potential favorite books. Dare I say it, but reading a different genre may have you discovering that you like said new genre more than what you thought your favorite genre was.

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Learning New Skills or Learning About the World

Books on different topics can teach us so much. Say like me you watched The Queen’s Gambit with no prior knowledge of the game of chess or how it’s played. But now that you’ve watched the show, you want to learn more about the game. Why not read a book on it, just as Beth Harmon does. Maybe you’ll even become a world-renowned chess player. After you read a book on chess, you can even re-watch the show and feel sophisticated when they talk about castling or doubled pawns and you actually know what those terms mean.

Read a book to help you better understand movies or shows

Reading outside of your favorite genre can do more than make you look good while watching Netflix. You can learn so much about the world through books. Whether it’s history or current events, how the stock market works or what a certain religion actually believes (instead of what Hollywood thinks they believe), there’s so much to learn about the world.

Here are 9 Interesting Books That Will Teach You Something according to BookRiot

Gaining a New Perspective

One of the benefits of reading outside your preferred genre can be hearing a new perspective and gaining one for yourself. Perhaps everyone who writes and reads Westerns has the same view on horses (unlikely but it could happen). However, if you read a non-fiction book about horse riding, you may never know all the things those Westerns get wrong. Or you may see a perspective that you never thought about before. Like who takes care of the horse when the cowboy isn’t jumping on it to save a damsel in distress (sorry if this is inaccurate; I don’t read Westerns but maybe I will now)? What does the stable hand have to say about horses?

non-fiction book about horse riding can widen your understanding of westerns.

Finding Inspiration and Creativity

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when we do the same thing day after day, and the same thing can be said when we read the same genre book after book. If you find yourself lacking inspiration or facing a creative block, try reading a book outside of your favorite genre. Doing something new is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. The ideas will start to come again and, no matter how you express your creativity, you’ll eventually find yourself climbing out of that rut.

So whether it’s to learn about the world or find a new favorite, reading outside your favorite genre has many benefits. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you must abandon your favorite genre (even if you find that you love this new one). If trying out a new genre seems like a daunting task, simply throw a different style book in your To Be Read (TBR) every few months. Start small and work your way toward reading a diverse set of books.

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