How My Reading & Mindset About Reading Have Evolved This Year

“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 :]

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THE CHANGES

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

genre 21  genre 20

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.

age 21 age 20

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!

type 21 type 20

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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.

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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!

rating 21 rating 20
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.

month 21
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! 

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GOING FORWARD

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.


shall we chat

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?

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36 thoughts on “How My Reading & Mindset About Reading Have Evolved This Year

  1. This is a really great and insightful post, May! I don’t know why the graphics don’t load for me, but I do love reading how your reading has changed this year. I noticed that while I still read YA, I’ve shifted more to mystery and thrillers with more contemporary compared to the previous years. And MG- they truly bring the joy for this year! <3

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    1. thank you so much tasya!! and ah, i think they don’t show up in the wordpress reader but they do on the actual website, but i’ll be sure to fix that! and ooh are there any ya mysteries/thrillers you recommend? i definitely want to read some more in the new year! <3

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  2. I’ve also been reading more diversely this year, and it’s been such a great change for me! I’ve experimented reading with a lot of new genres( and I found a new favourite- historical fiction) and I also discovered a lot of cool books!
    Great post, I loved reading it 💖💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was such an incredible post! I’m definitely making it a goal to try and branch out to other genres in 2022. This year I read a LOT of Adult RomComs and, while I love that genre, I found that reading the same genre over and over again put me in a reading slump more often than usual. I’ll definitely be taking your advice, especially because YA thrillers are also a favorite of mine and I definitely miss reading them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ah thank you so much!! i’m so happy to hear that you’re making it a 2022 goal <3 and reading in different genres definitely helps alleviate some slumpiness (though maybe i shouldn't talk since i've been slumping for months haha). and ya thrillers are so good, i'm glad you like them as well!!

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  4. I loved reading about how your reading evolved this year, May! ❤️ Ever since I started my ‘reading outside your comfort zone’ challenge two years ago, I have read so much more widely and I agree that it can be so motivational! I still love YA Fantasy, but I have felt myself getting a lot pickier with what books I want to read, as I have read so much in this genre already. I have also read more MG this year, especially wintery/autumnal books as they feel so magical to me 🥰

    I’m also glad that I’m not the only one who has stopped being very invested in new releases 😅 There are still books I’m excited for (and I’ll probably add books if there’s much love for them throughout the year), but it’s less than the previous years. There are so many backlist books that I also want to read, I don’t want to just focus on the new books.

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    1. thank you so much caro! i’m so glad you’ve also enjoyed reading outside your comfort zone <3 and ooh, i never thought about how reading so many books in one genre can make your standards higher, that's definitely a great point! i really hope i can read more mg next year, i love them but don't read them enough

      that's exactly how i feel about new releases! there are certainly a number of books i'm excited about, but backlist books are much more what i want to focus on now <3

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  5. This was such a fascinating post to read! In 2021 I found myself in a very similar position to you. I tried to broaden my horizons and reach for books that were kinda out of my comfort zone. Furthermore, like you, I found myself not enjoying ya fantasy and I grew closer to adult fantasy.

    I really hope to continue growing in the future regarding the books I read. I still need to explore more genres and definitely try reading more middle grade. (Also, your graphics are so so pretty.)

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    1. thank you so much, daria!! i’m glad you also got to read books outside of your comfort zone <3 and yess adult fantasy truly is so much better (at least for my/our tastes haha)!

      i hope we can both continue to read more widely in 2022! reading more middle grade is definitely a goal of mine too. and thank you so much!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. oh my god I’m in love with all of these spreadsheets and pie charts and things. I also felt myself growing out of YA at some point, and now I feel like unless a book is getting a ton of hype, I rarely read YA at all. It was definitely a slow transition but one that helped my enjoyment of reading. Memoirs are now my all time favorite genre so glad to see you enjoy them!

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    1. i love to see the growth lol!! i definitely can see myself rarely reading ya in a few years lol (which makes sense, since i’m growing out of the age it’s intended for). i’m so glad you also love memoirs—i’ve had a bunch on my list already but do you have any specific recommendations?

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  7. this is a great post, May! i’m so glad you have found new books to love. i also noticed last year that going out of my comfort zone has changed my reading for the better. like the amount of adult Fantasy i have been reading and enjoying, instead of suffering with YA SFF lol hope your 2022 is full of wonderful books that surprised you ♥️

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    1. thank you so much <3 i'm so glad your reading also improved because of how you went out of your comfort zone!! adult sff has definitely been a MAJOR improvement over ya sff lol… i hope you also have a wonderful reading year in 2022 <3

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  8. Oh May this post inspires me SO much, really. I feel like I tend to stay inside of my comfort zone a lot and, while I like it here, I’m now wondering if I’m not clearly missing out on some things, as well. I’m so happy that you’ve had a successful reading year and that you’ve been pleasantly surprised by your discoveries, I hope that 2022 will be an incredible year for you filled with new books to love! <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. this makes me so happy to hear!! i definitely was happy to stay within my comfort zone as well, but i’m so happy i’ve started straying from it! i hope you manage to read all the good books in 2022, though, whether they’re within your comfort zone or not <3

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  9. May this post warms my heart so much! I’m so happy to see that broadening your reading horizons has been such a positive experience for you this year. I had a similar goal for 2021 but found with the many slumps, I just kept going back to the tried-and-true categories. I want to break free a bit more in 2022 though and you’ve inspired me to make a concerted effort!

    I do think I am going to care less about reading ARCs though and dedicate more effort to my backlist. I think being more mindful about the ARCs I accept like in 2018 will be a positive thing for me. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it totally makes sense why you didn’t get to go outside of your comfort zone as much with your slump! i hope you can reach that goal in 2022 though, and i hope it’s a fruitful journey <3

      i've stopped caring about arcs (though i suspect as i get back into blogging i'll want them again just a little bit haha) and it's definitely wonderful to focus on backlist books <3 hope you also have more time to dedicate to your backlist!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Honestly, I stuck to my two main genres this year for the most part. I read 1 sci-fi, 1 poetry collection, and 1 literary fiction, but I believe almost everything else was either a romance or a graphic novel. However, I do want to branch out a little bit more next year! I always forget how much I enjoy literary fiction, but I just purchased three that I really think I’ll enjoy, to dip my toe into the genre when I feel like it.

    However, I still don’t see myself making any big changes until after I’m finished with school and have settled into a job, because right now I don’t have the brainpower to enjoy new genres. I have tried over the past few years, but it mostly sticks when I’m on vacation and not during the semester itself. So I’ll just have to wait it out and see! Maybe branching out can be a goal for 2023!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh wow, it’s admirable in a way how you stuck to your two genres so well! and omg i admire you for being able to read literary fiction… i struggle so much with it but i’m definitely trying to read more litfic books!

      that totally makes sense—i know a lot of people who wanted to branch out in 2021 but didn’t quite to because they slumped and ended up reaching for what was comfortable for them, which i think is very reasonable. i hope you enjoy your reading in 2022 no matter what though! <3

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