Regardless of if you are an avid reader currently, at some point in your life you read a book that you instantly fell in love with.
The type of book that made you want to keep devouring more. Maybe it was the next book in the series, maybe just seeking out other titles by your new favorite author. In any event, you couldn’t stop thinking about THAT book.
In fact, I bet right now you can still remember the feeling that book gave you.
Before I share with you what that book was for me, let’s take a second to look at YOUR choice of book.
I want you to think about that first book. Then I want you to think about all the books you’ve read since then.
Trust me, I know this isn’t ground-breaking science here, but I find it fascinating to look back on how something that we read all those years ago can go on to completely shape our tastes moving forward.
I’m willing to bet that, at least for a long stretch of time, the other books you read and enjoyed AFTER that first love all fit into a similar box. Maybe it set you on the path of a lifelong love of fantasy or sci-fi, perhaps it was the origin of your legal thriller passion, or maybe it’s where you developed your adoration for the horror work of masters like Stephen King.
Whatever that first book was, you probably found yourself sticking to that same genre of writing for many years. You may still be there, or you may have taken a chance at some point and jumped out of that first comfort zone and found yourself locked into a NEW favorite genre.
The most interesting thing is that every book you read after that first love will end up being compared to that original book. You may really enjoy it, but it can never quite live up to the brilliance of the first.
Sounds a lot like our personal relationships huh? I don’t know that we ever truly forget our first loves.
This presents a bit of a problem though, doesn’t it?
If we trap ourselves into that one genre, we put on blinders to the enormous sea of possible new loves.
Much like the art we create, if we don’t take equal time to step outside our comfort zone while enjoying the stuff we love, we never grow. If we aren’t growing, then we are stagnant. Closed off to the beauty of the world because we are focused only on a single flower.
So I propose a challenge to you. Think of your favorite book, your favorite movie, your favorite art to create, and then look to the exact opposite and find something new to enjoy or create in that opposite realm.
Step outside that comfort zone and grow. It will be uncomfortable at first.
At least until you grow into it.
Oh and by the way, that book for me was by Terry Brooks. It wasn’t my entry into the world of fantasy as I had already enjoyed the worlds of Tolkien, but his book “The Scions of Shannara” grabbed me in a giant bear hug that led me down a lifetime path of love for the fantasy genre that is still my “comfort zone” when I don’t know what else to read.
David (Usually Dave) Szweduik is a photographer, podcaster, and all around geek from the great state of Minnesota and can be found weekly on his podcast Adventures in Creativity. There you’ll find him having conversations fueled by curiosity around the amazing world of all things creativity