The Importance of Reading Widely

The Importance of Reading Widely

We all have our favorite genres and niches of books we like to read. For me, I adore fantasy and science fiction. But sometimes I think we all would rather to just stick with what we know and read only our favorite genres. It's human tendency. However, that doesn't mean we always need to do it. It's important to read things outside our comfort zone in different genres or about different people than us and this post is going to tell you why.

You might find a new favorite

If you don't branch out, how will you find new favorite authors, books, or genres? You might be a major steampunk or urban fantasy fan and not know it because you won't try something new. Once in a while, pick up a book in an unusual genre for you and give a try. You don't have to like it, but at least you tried.

You learn new things

Reading other books can teach you about different cultures, or a new type of science, or how to fight with a spear. You never know what new and interesting thing you might pick up from a book. This is especially true for non-fiction. I recommend browsing the non-fiction section of the library from time to time or picking a topic and checking out some books on it.

It shows you different ways of writing

This one is especially good for writers. When you read widely, trying different formats of writing, you'll learn what you like and don't like and what you might want to try. Like epistolary narrative (or letters in other words) or telling a story through free form poetry. Maybe even experiment with a few yourself.

You learn about others

Reading widely can also introduce you to characters who are different from you and give you a glimpse at their lives, which increases empathy. I've read several interesting books this year with African American or Indian or Asian main characters and it's really changed my perspective. Try reading a book about a boy if you're a girl, a person of color if you're white, or a poor person if you're well off. If you're really firm in your faith, you can even try reading about people with other worldviews.

It grows your vocabulary

Again, non-fiction books are great for this. I love learning new words and I'm sure to keep a dictionary or my phone nearby when I'm reading something big. Learning new words is good because then you can use them when you need that perfect word. Of course, it always helps to look up how they're pronounced because there is nothing more embarrassing than using a big word in a sentence and mispronouncing it.

It helps you learn quality books

Without a wide range to compare, how can you tell which books are really good and which ones are just crap? It would be like a scientist only surveying the people in his family for scientific research. You won't get an accurate result without a larger pool to go by. Even reading widely in your favorite genres can help you learn more about quality. If you like fantasy, try some urban, some realistic, and some that almost crosses into sci-fi. And so on.

It increases your imagination

Movies are great and all, but they take away that magical part of the book where your brain, all by itself, creates a character and world just based off of words on a page. Isn't amazing that we have that ability? The more you read, the more your brain learns to imagine more and better images. It can even help you with writing your own stories one day.

What are your thoughts on this subject? How do you like to branch out in your reading? Tell me in the comments.

Suggested Posts:

Why You Should Read/Watch Things for Children
10 Signs You Might Be a Bookworm


  1. I don't mind dipping into the occasional thriller or dystopia, but I tend to avoid going off-genre from fantasy/contemporary/historical/mystery because of some bad experiences I've had.

    Great post, Rachel!



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