Reading Outside of Your Normal Genre Comfort Zone

This time of year is judging time for the big romance award, the RITAs. Published authors sign up to judge and we often get 6-9 romances to read through in 2 months to score. And you can't judge in your own subgenre if you've entered. For me that means I can't judge erotic romance or novellas since those are the categories I entered. So often you're getting books outside of your normal "reading zone." This is both a challenging and exciting thing. I get a stack of books that I probably normally wouldn't seek out. Usually when I pull the books from the box, there's an automatic initial reaction--ooh, I'm probably going to like this one. Or, ack, this is so not my normal thing and I'm not sure how that's going to go. Regardless, I make a promise to judge fairly based on the simple concept of: how much did I enjoy the story?

And you know what? Inevitably, I'm surprised by something. I often discover new authors who I want to keep reading. Authors I might never have tried. And many times, it's the book or books that I didn't expect to like that end up grabbing me. This year was no exception. The book I would've ranked lowest for my interest level in reading it ended up being my favorite of the bunch and got the highest score. (Note: I'm not listing titles because I can't share which books I read. Judging is confidential.) So, that proves to me yet again that I need to make myself read outside of my comfort zone because I'm missing out on some great stuff.

So I thought it'd be a good time to remind myself and anyone who's interested in doing the same of the Push Your Boundaries Reading Challenge I created at the beginning of the year. This is a challenge you can tailor to your own needs to get you reading outside of your normal genres or subgenres.

Here are the details:

Push Your Boundaries Reading Challenge

The key to this challenge is that it is PERSONALIZED. Other challenges are pretty specific: Read 5 Classics or 10 Mysteries or whatever. This is a lot more flexible. You know which categories you need to venture out in. And don't worry, there's still a column for your favorites. We don't want to give those up! :)

Below you'll find my chart that I've filled out, but I'm also including a download for a blank chart. This is a Word doc that you can download and either print to fill out by hand or use electronically. What I do is type in my categories on the computer, then I print it out and use that sheet to either X out boxes as I read books or I'll write the name of the book in the box under the genre. Do what works for you. 

In the doc (and below), I've also included a list of possible categories to put in your columns. These are only suggestions. Feel free to add whatever you want or to make up your own categories.

Roni's Push Your Boundaries Chart
Push Your Boundaries Reading Challenge Blank

Here are BLANK CHARTS FOR DOWNLOAD along with a list of category suggestions. Click links to download:

  • Word doc (Note: If you have different fonts from me, this may format a little off in your Word. Adjust as needed. Or download the PDF.)
  • PDF download

And if you need some help brainstorming some categories, here are some suggestions to get you started:

Push Your Boundaries Reading Suggestions

So feel free to join up if you think you could use a little push outside your normal reading zone. :)

Do you find yourself sticking to the same subgenres? Do you make yourself venture out? Has a book you didn't think you'd like surprised you? Which one?