i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Stretching Ourselves

Reading Outside of Your Comfort Zone

One of my favourite things to do is read a mystery novel in one go. Mystery is my favourite genre, and the familiarity of the set up and solution of the puzzle is very comforting – even though the plot is new each time, I still know what to expect. This year, however, I’m challenging myself to read outside my comfort zone.

The first thing I want to read more of is non-fiction, particularly biographies and histories. As this is a new territory for me, I asked my friends for recommendations, looked at lists such as the ‘National Book Award for Nonfiction’, and listened to podcasts where writers discussed their favourite books. I’m enjoying being exposed to new ideas and topics I didn’t know about before. For example, I gained a much deeper understanding of European history after reading a biography of Vicky, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, who became the Empress of Germany.

Another challenge I’ve set for myself is to read authors from non-Western countries. To keep track of my progress, I colour each country on a world map when I read a book from there. Reading around the world helps me grow in empathy and look at things from different perspectives. The Old Drift by Zambian author Namwali Serpell challenged my perceptions of race, while the Indian novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara offered me a window into the lives of children in slums.

As my adventure into reading more diversely continues, I’m discovering both genres that are quickly growing on me (like magic realism) and books that I struggle with (like poetry collections). This might sound like a bumpy journey, but even expanding my likes and dislikes is a way to push myself beyond my comfort zone. Also, I always know that when I want a break from stretching myself, there’s a mystery on my shelf I can turn to for a break.