In trying to keep up on my professional skills, I’ve started reading Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle, which is basically a how-to guide for teaching middle schoolers. Something she talks about in that book is your “reading territories,” which is nothing more or less than those genres or types of books or authors that you find yourself coming back to over and over again–your reading comfort zone, if you will.
The more I stopped to think about this, the more I realized how much these comfort zones can define us as readers (and as people).
Take my husband, for example–his reading comfort zone is fantasy. And lots of it. I’ve tried and tried to get him to “branch out” and read other stuff (aka, my stuff), and although he’s semi-willingly obliged me a few times, he still returns over and over again to his fantasy favorites. I attribute this to the fact that he’s much more imaginative than me (and to the fact that he has somehow held onto his childlike wonder, whereas my dad has been telling me since I was six that I was a middle-aged soul stuck in a child’s body).
So I decided to sit down and figure out what my own reading territories are–those genres and authors and subjects I keep coming back to again and again.
Here we go–my reading comfort zones:
*Any book on a recommended reading list, especially classics. This is my most obvious comfort zone–if somebody semi-reliable has recommended it, I am willing to read it. Sadly, the opposite also holds true–if a book is not on any one of my lists, I hesitate to read it because it means I won’t get the satisfaction at the end of getting to check that book off of one of the pages and pages of reading lists that I keep in my filing cabinet. Plus I’ve found that generally, books that have been recommended really are worth reading.
*Popular fiction (aka, the “tight-knit reading club of America” that I talk about here). Basically, if everyone’s talking about a book, I can’t bear to be left out of the loop. Except The Da Vinci Code. Somehow I just never jumped on that train.
*MAGAZINES. It should be no secret to any regular reader of my blog that I have a major magazine addiction. Although, even with magazines, I still have my preferred territories, such as fashion, style, cooking, gardening, home decor, entertaining, and women’s interest/lifestyle. My current can’t-wait-until-it-comes obsession? Country Living.
*Self-help books, especially those having to do with money, relationships, or goal-setting (like Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits books).
*Cookbooks. Here’s another area where I have a major problem (I have too many cookbooks and no space to put them). I adore getting new cookbooks, and I will often spend hours “reading” cookbooks. I know–weird.
*Books on writing–how to improve it, why we do it, ways to get started, etc.etc.
*Young adult fiction. This is about the only fiction genre that I regularly read books from where the books don’t have to be on a recommended list. I have whole shelves that are dedicated to just young adult fiction (some favorites authors: Markus Zusak, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Joan Bauer).
*LDS non-fiction books (with some C.S. Lewis mixed in there for good measure).
*Poetry. I have SCADS of poetry anthologies all over the house, and whenever I’m in a particularly pensive mood, nothing makes me more content than snuggling up to a good poem (except maybe a fresh roll or a piece of good chocolate).
I’m sure there are more, but these are my main staples.
What are your reading territories? Do you share any of mine?