Discussion: Reading Comfort Zones

After I read The Hunger Games, I realized I wanted more stories like that. I delved into the YA dystopian genre and read quite a bit of it over the next couple of years. I still love the dystopians, but lately I’ve been finding myself reading more contemporaries. One genre I’ve never been able to get into, at least where reading is concerned, is high fantasy.

I don’t know why I have such a problem with it. I pin part of it on the unfamiliar names. I can keep the characters straight when their names are Heather, Natalie, and Dodge, but names like Celaena and Chaol are confusing. I feel like I spend more time trying to pronounce them than I do enjoying the book! The names in dystopian fiction are often just as strange, and it can be confusing at times, but I don’t have as much difficulty as I do with high fantasy.

I want to like high fantasy, I really do. Some of my favorite TV shows and movies have been fantasy — Legend of the Seeker and Lord of the Rings — and I’m currently watching Game of Thrones. Yet, I don’t have any interest in reading the books they’re based on. I did listen to the first two Sword of Truth (Legend of the Seeker) audiobooks, but I couldn’t get that invested in them and when the TV series ended, I didn’t try any more of the books.

A lot of people who went to BEA were going crazy for the Heir of Fire ARCs. (I love the green on the cover!) I decided I would give the Throne of Glass series a try. I’m enjoying it so far, but I am having to read it very slowly so I don’t get lost. It’s going to take me months to read it and the rest of the books if I don’t speed things up!

Do you have a bookish comfort zone? Have you ever tried reading outside of your comfort zone? Do you have any recommendations for high fantasy that I might try once I finish the Throne of Glass books (if I ever do, at the rate I’m going)?



  1. One of my friends has an issue reading high fantasy, but she says it’s because the names trip her up because she has dyslexia. I, personally, LOVE high fantasy, but the names don’t trip me up. I began devouring high fantasy when I was in 8th grade (not counting LOTR -my dad read that to us when we were kids). One book series that you may enjoy that don’t have crazy names and has an excellent plot and characters would be The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. I HIGHLY recommend this series. I hope you will at least try this series. For me, it was a great introduction to the high fantasy realm without it being riddled with a lot of crazy names.
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  2. I enjoy high fantasy. I recommend Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. The names aren’t bad at all.

    I make some attempts to read outside my comfort zone. I’ve determined that I don’t like fairy tale retellings, but I will give one a try every now and then if it sounds interesting. I don’t like chick-lit either, and I’m kinda firm on that at the moment lol.
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    • Thanks for the recommendation. Falling Kingdoms looks good and I’ve added it to my TBR. I picked up another one to add (based solely on the cover!) from the “readers also enjoyed” section on that page. I’m not into fairy tales, so I haven’t attempted any fairy tale retellings. They’re so popular though.
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  3. I’m kinda new to YA I guess, since discovering the book blogging world. Most of the examples I’ve read I’ve loved, so it was a good discovery for me! Contemporaries too- never used to read much, but I do now. I like high fantasy, although I actually don’t read a lot of it these days. Sometimes the names don’t work for me either- nothing dulls my interest more in a new fantasy book than a bunch of weird names. Game of thrones may have ruined a lot of fantasy for me too…

    I appreciate Lord of the Rings more as an adult, although a lot of other high fantasy I grew up reading has not held up so well when I try to read it now…
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    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who has problems with the names. Like Chaol mentioned in my post, I keep thinking about charcoal when I see it, even though I know from the pronunciation guide that it’s not pronounced anything like that.

      I tried reading LOTR a few years ago, after seeing the movies, but I couldn’t get into it. For me the book is usually better than the movie — except when I see the movie first.
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  4. Yes! My comfort zone is definitely contemporary as well. I usually don’t mind the sappy and cheesy love stories as long as they are executed well. I like high fantasy that isn’t too epic. My favourites have to be the Maria V. Snyder books because even though they’re high fantasy, they were still pretty fun! I really really have to read the Throne of Glass series soon! I’m hoping I’ll love it but I’m afraid they’ll be slow for me as well. ><
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  5. I’ve loved all types of genres and am really open to anything but the thing with me is that even knowing that, I still immediately gravitate to contemporary. Contemporary is definitely my comfort-zone and I’m disappointed to say that about 90% of the books I read are contemporary. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s just that I’ve always wanted to aim for diversity in my reading and push myself to read things I don’t normally do. High fantasy is something that I have trouble getting into as well. I don’t think I’ve fully finished one in about five or six years which is a really long time! But I do love the sound of it and am hoping in the summer to get to Throne of Glass and Graceling!
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  6. Awesome post Jenea! I think anything paranormal/fantasy is my reading comfort zone, anything “real” can get a bit uncomfortable for me LOL! I don’t read a ton of high fantasy, but I do know what you mean about the difficult names. Have you tried an audiobook? I adore audiobooks and they are great for those moments where you don’t know how to say something. I also just make up my own pronunciation and decide it’s right (since no one can call me on it anyway lol)!
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  7. I also have a problem with high fantasy. I agree about the names but for me it’s also the descriptions of locations. I read Game of Thrones before the HBO series started and at first I was so confused. It took me a while to figure out who everyone was and where they were. Reading the book actually helped before watching the series. I did love Defy by Sara Larson. It is a fantasy world but the main focus is on the characters. The author describes just enough of the world that I didn’t get confused and I can’t wait to read the second book. Lately I have been reading a lot of contemporary romance books (mainly because of blog tours). But I need a break from that so I’m going to switch to paranormal or mysteries. I would love to read some Steampunk soon! This is a great post!! Have a great week!
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    • Locations are difficult too. (And they also usually have weirdly spelled and pronounced names…) Thanks for the recommendation on Defy. I will look into it. I’m also hoping to read some steampunk soon. I haven’t read any, but I bought a couple of books on recommendation recently so I need to give them a try.
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  8. I’m not sure what ‘high fantasy’ is, so I don’t know if I enjoy it. I do like a wide variety, but don’t much care for memoirs. I completely relate about the names and slowing down to pronounce them. Especially when the book is set in a foreign place, it gets really confusing to me if the names all start with the same letter or if they are all names that are difficult to pronounce, it really slows my reading down.
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  9. Great Post!

    I too love contemporaries, so I would say that is my reading comfort zone. I also love mythologies, so that would be in there as well. I know I can pick up pretty much any of these books, and at least like them.

    I go through phases of the other books. Dystopian and steampunk sometimes I love them and read tons of them in a couple of months and other times, I steer clear of them completely for months at a time.

    As far as out of my comfort zone…zombies, aliens, historicals, and horror are out of my comfort zone. I don’t read a ton of those types of books, but I have read a couple in each genre that I really enjoyed. I think the key for me is just to be really picky with these kinds of books. It has to have an awesome sounding plot and good reviews/feedback for me to pick up the book.

    I’m a new email subscriber of yours 🙂
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