I am definitely going to sound like a hypocrite in this post because one of the things I say with a lot of consistency in my yoga classes is, “If you’re in pain, pull back, but if you’re uncomfortable, dig a little deeper. Nothing is ever going to happen if you stay in your comfort zone.” And yet, here I am, advocating for comfort zone reading.
I’m all for stepping out of your comfort zone. I mean, heck, I’m about to travel to Portugal for two weeks by myself for my first time abroad. There’s an absurd amount of out of my comfort zone things that I’m going to be doing in addition to just the insanity of actually going, and I’m so excited for it. Even in my daily life, I’ve got a lot of things that challenge my comfort zone, whether it’s learning new things at work that might be a little uncomfortable at first purely because they’re new, or if it’s tackling a hard climbing route that really makes me think and take my time when I usually like to fly up the wall. I’m all about stepping out of my comfort zone.
And, for a long time, I did that with my reading. When I was in college, I tried to exclusively read adult literary, and while it wasn’t entirely because I wanted to, but because I thought I “had” to because I’d “aged out” of young adult, it was still something I worked toward. Over the last several years, I’ve worked toward reading more classics, exploring different genres, trying out new age ranges, and just generally giving books I wouldn’t normally reach for another go. I’ve been breaking out of my comfort zone with my reading for years, and I think I’m finally all set.
Part of me just wants to say, “I’m going to be thirty this year, and I’m tired, and I’m done with trying to pretend I’m not an old fart who wants to be buried in young adult high fantasy.” Actually, most of me wants to say that. I’ve been reading since I was a child, and on my own since I was twelve, so that’s a solid eighteen years of getting to know what I like in books. It comes as absolutely no surprise that what I do like is high fantasy, usually in the young adult age range, and it makes sense that that’s where I’d like to settle.
Y’all, I’ve been reading for eighteen years. I know what I like. It’s like Thai food. I’ve tried probably half a dozen places in my area in search of the best Thai food, and I finally settled on Sawasdee in Danvers. I love it there. I love the food, I love the people, I love the service. Their massaman curry is where it’s at, and do you know what I’ve gotten to eat there for the last four or so years? I am a creature of habit, and I won’t be stopped. And why should I? I know that I like it, and I know that it’s not going to disappoint, so I’m going to keep going to Sawasdee and ordering massaman curry.
I love high fantasy. It’s what I live and breathe. I’ve always joked that half of my brain is off in some fantasy world while the other half is working my day job or teaching yoga or just existing. I do like other genres, and there are some months where I’ll spend three weeks straight reading contemporaries, but the reason that I don’t do a top ten fantasy reads at the end of the year is because my top ten reads are usually most, if not all, fantasy. I am never not going to love it. And it’s time to stop pretending that I’m ever going to.
I’m here for comfort zone reading. I’ve spent years going outside of my comfort zone with reading, and you know what that’s mostly established? That I still like fantasy more than anything else. Yes, it forced me to read Jane Austen, and I absolutely fell in love with her. And yes, it forced me to branch out with middle grade and discover a real love there. And yes, I finally read some Joe Hill books and realized he’s one of my favorite authors. But I haven’t really enjoyed many other classics, my middle grade reading is probably at one a month, and I don’t like horror outside of Hill. You know what I do still definitely like, though? Young adult high fantasy.
I’ve spent eighteen years getting to know my taste with reading, and it’s been proven to me, time and time again, that that taste revolves around young adult high fantasy, so as I’m entering my thirtieth year on this planet and definitely tired of a lot of things, I’m going to stop reading outside of my comfort zone. I’m not having fun when I do it, and I’m only rarely discovering new things, so it’s young adult high fantasy or bust for me.