“Read more diversely.”
That was one of my reading goals for 2021—not in terms of representation (though always that too), but in terms of genre, age group, and type. And honestly, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my reading.
Throughout the year, I’ve observed how many more of x books I’m reading, how much more I’m enjoying x genre over one I usually read. I’ve observed my feelings about my reading and books in general, and how they’ve shifted because of me expanding my reading horizons. And I wanted to write a post about it all, because reading more widely has changed my reading for the better, truly!!
I’ve been really excited to post this, and it’s actually been sitting in my drafts for a third of a year. But I guess it was meant to be that I’m posting it toward the end of 2021, so that I can get a more complete view of the whole year’s reading! This is a post that is very nerdy, self-indulgent, and even cheesy at times, but I hope that you enjoy reading it despite that :]
So the biggest changes I’ve made with my reading this year are the genres and age groups I read from. While my reading is still majority fantasy like last year, I’ve read from a much wider range of genres in 2021! I read from some genres I didn’t normally reach for, like nonfiction, and others that I was interested in but hadn’t read too much of before, like sci-fi.
2021 | 2020
I’ve been reading YA for a while now, and this is the first year where I’ve read more adult fiction than YA! I’m actually really happy to be reading less YA… I don’t think I was satisfied by a lot of the YA I was reading last year.
While I could definitely stand to increase the different types of books that I read, I’m glad to see that I at least read more poetry and nonfiction!
WHY I MADE THEM
One of the things that made me want to try to read new kinds of books was that I recognized I was growing out of YA. Last year, I read more adult fantasy than before and found myself really loving it, so I wanted to continue exploring the genre. It was also the first year where I read almost double the amount of fantasy over contemporary, and I saw that I wasn’t as big a fan of YA contemporary as I’d used to be.
But also, I just wanted to try more genres!! Though I didn’t normally reach for sci-fi books, I enjoyed the few ones I’d read. I also thought I’d never been into historical fiction and always joked about it being boring, but I realized last year that I had to read hist-fic books about events I actually found interesting. And I’ve read so little nonfiction throughout my life, but I think it’s important to read at least a few amidst my fiction reading. All of this I had in mind when making my reading goals for 2021.
WHAT I’VE NOTICED
Things I’ve realized about my reading taste now:
- I much prefer adult fantasy over YA fantasy (I don’t care a lot for YA fantasy anymore actually)
- I really like memoirs!
- I really like YA thrillers!
- MG fantasy truly has my heart (and I need to read more of it!)
My average rating without rereads is 3.47 this year, which is higher than last year’s. This, to me, is numerical proof that the experimentation I’m doing is successful: I’m enjoying more books!
My top highest-rated books are also a wide range of books—2 memoirs, adult fantasy, YA contemporary, adult historical fiction—while a few years ago, for example, it was majority YA contemporary. So not only am I enjoying a larger amount of books in general, but also a larger variety of books!
2021 vs 2020 (so many 4-stars this year…)
But even though I have been enjoying more books this year, I also feel a different kind of satisfaction from reading that doesn’t necessarily come from how much I enjoy a book. Like yes, I’m liking more books, but there were some months where no books particularly stood out to me. But I still felt strangely satisfied with my reading during those months, because I was happy that I was trying different books.
Not to be dramatic, but I think it’s almost rekindled my love for reading. I just find it so exciting to try different things and possibly surprise myself!!! I feel like I have a bigger appreciation for words and writing in general, and I think that’s where that other level of satisfaction comes from—feeling fulfilled because I get the chance to read so many stories from different people and cultures and to absorb vastly different products of creativity.
On top of this is the fact that I’ve finally stopped caring so much about the number of books I read. I recently lowered my Goodreads reading challenge, and while it did hurt my soul a tiiiiny bit to break my four-year tradition of reading 100 books… WHO CARES! But also, I have a different spin on it now. I’m still striving to read as many books as I can, but not to reach an arbitrary numerical goal—instead, it’s to read as widely as I can. And with my struggles to read during the past semester, it’s been so wonderful to still feel satisfied by my reading (because of what I talked about above) despite reading less.
this is seriously painful to look at… I wanted to read so many cool books :(…
I’ve also just stopped caring as much for upcoming releases. Part of it is definitely because I’ve, uh, been absent from the online book community… and have no idea what’s releasing soon… (Please still tell me what you’re excited for, though, I’m nosy.) But the other part of it is that I’m just focused on what I want to read that follows my goals of more diverse reading, which means what’s accessible to me currently!
I think that a big part of what made reading exciting for me, after I started blogging, was the prospect of so many interesting-sounding books releasing in the future. But I noticed a while ago that after the year passed and I looked back on those releases I was excited for, I wasn’t that excited to pick most of them up. I think it’s natural for us to be drawn to “shiny new things”, but instead of finding that “shiny new” quality only in upcoming releases like I used to, I find it in books that are outside of my comfort zone! And it’s a lot more long-lasting, because that “newness” won’t fade away with time.
TL;DR: For a multitude of reasons tied to how I’ve tried to expand my reading, I’ve become excited about books in new ways, and it’s truly changed how I view reading!
I’m definitely not planning to stop what I’m doing, since clearly it’s working for me and I’m LOVING it!! This year was hopefully just the start, because while my reading has seen a lot of major changes, I still have a lot of other changes to make!
In 2022, I’m for sure going to continue expanding my reading to include more classics, translated fiction, and nonfiction. I also want to read more short stories and comics/graphic novels, because I really do adore them but for some reason never reach for them.
If anyone wants a fun new year’s goal, I totally recommend challenging yourself to read books you don’t normally reach for like I did!! It’s genuinely enriched my reading, not only with the general benefit of reading a wide range of books but also with giving me so much more joy.
It’s so easy (and normal!) to stay with what we’re comfortable, but I think it’s thus also easy for us to become stagnant and to believe that what we’re used to is what we like best. So much general life advice is about taking risks, trying new things, living life, etc because You Never Know. And while reading new kinds of books isn’t the kind of exhilarating life experience that advice was probably talking about (I fully recognize that this whole post is nerd behavior), I think it still rings true: I never knew until I tried, and when I tried, I ended up falling in love with reading all over again.
have you tried reading books outside of your comfort zone before? how did that go for you? what are the books you don’t normally reach for? how was your reading in 2021?