October 15, 2021
Is a Balanced Reading Life Important?
October is National Book Month
All through the year there are many occasions to celebrate books and reading!
National Book Month is held each October.
The month-long celebration focuses on the importance of reading, writing and literature.
To celebrate, I’m asking a bookish question… or two….
I’m linking up with Discussion Challenge 2021.
- Do you have a balanced reading life?
- Do you think a reader needs a balanced reading life?
- What is a balanced reading life?
- Is a balanced reading life important?
- What are the benefits of a balanced reading life?
- What do you do to balance your reading life?
***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
10 Reasons For a Balanced Reading Life:
I think a balanced reading life is important for the following reasons (in no particular order):
After reading the emotional Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, I purposefully read a few lighthearted books.
Genre Fatigue or Book Hangovers or Reading Slumps
I devour historical fiction like the Hungry, Hungry Hippo! Even I can tire of a steady diet of histfic. Changing up your genre is a tried and true strategy for getting out of a reading slump. I often turn to Middle Grade in these situations.
Converse With a Variety of Readers
One of my greatest joys is recommending books and discussing books. This would be easier if every reader likes what I like. Are you prepared to recommend a book to a reader or discuss books with readers whose tastes differ from yours? I have a couple of friends that enjoy chick lit, one of my grandsons likes survival stories; my son-in-law loves post apocalyptic; I know young readers and sensitive readers and nonfiction readers and memoir readers. How can I recommend books to the variety of readers in my life when I don’t dabble in a variety of genres?
Young at Heart
I love an occasional Middle Grade read! Some of my favorite Middle Grade reads are here (I need to update the post!). I love that I always have a recommendation at my fingertips for young readers. It enables me to feel confidant in buying a bookish gift for a young reader if I’ve read the book myself. (feeling yonng-at-heart is a bonus!)
Nonfiction and Fiction Balance
Every year I try to increase my percentage of nonfiction books read. Within the genre, I prefer narrative nonfiction (nonfiction that reads like a story) and thoughtful memoirs. Very often you can find nonfiction/fiction book pairings like the ones I’ve included in this post. (I have an updated version of this post scheduled for 11/8)……reading a nonfiction/fiction pairing is an easy way to balance your reading life.
Balance Out Long Books
Immediately after reading Cloud Cuckoo Land (650+ pages) by Anthony Doerr (which should have counted as three books!), I read three quick women’s fiction (chick lit) books to help beef up my book count for the month.
A Break While Reading a Long or Dense Book
When I read A Gentleman in Moscow I read a shorter book in between each section of the book.
Before You See the Movie
Some readers enjoy reading the book before seeing the movie….a few examples include: The Martian, Project Hail Mary, Hunger Games, Divergent, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Jurassic Park Which book have you read before seeing the movie?
Stimulate Your Reading Life
Variety is the spice of life and this is also true in the reading life. I love to count and analyze the different genres I’ve read at year’s end. (yes, I’m a hard core book nerd!) I definitely feel that aiming for a balance of genres enhances the reading life!
Instead of saying I don’t read that genre consider that maybe you just haven’t read the right book in that genre …examples….
I don’t like thrillers or paranormal reads but I did (mostly) enjoy The Good Sister and The Beautiful Strangers (a not so scary ghost story); The Nature of Fragile Things and The Huntress have a side of thriller.
I don’t like crime fiction or true crime but I do like the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series and The Dry (both crime fiction) and I did appreciate Killers of the Flower Moon (true crime).
So, what I’m saying is that even though I don’t read a great deal in certain genres, I probably have a book I can mention for someone who expresses an interest in the genre.
Join the Discussion:
Do you consider yourself a balanced reader?
Do you see any value in being a balanced reader?
Do you have any tips to share about balancing your reading life?
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
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Excellent post – and valuable question to discuss. For all the reasons you stated, I agree. Being retired, I am able to read a book a day usually and always have several books on the go. My go to genres are romance of any kind and fantasy. But I do enjoy memoir and other nonfiction books. With a book study group, we focus usually on nonfiction. I also enjoy YA, Mg and pix books. As a writer I write in several genres – romance, fantasy and pix books and MG. Reading widely improves my writing and it is just plain enjoyable.
Thank you so much for adding your thoughts Bev! Reading widely is an enriching experience and I can see how it benefits your writing! I’m glad to hear you enjoy reading and writing MG!
Agree, every 400 pages should count as a book. My cr is 1002 😂
Yes Goodreads! Give us extra credit! 😂 I’m always tempted to read some breezy chic lit after a 600 page book to balance things out! Good luck with your 1,ooo page read!
I can be balanced! Depending on my mood and life in general, I tend to gravitate toward certain genres and stories. Sometimes it doesn’t look very balanced but I try to throw different stories in regularly.
You never know! And I love those surprises! I felt that way about Project Hail Mary! I’m so glad I didn’t miss out!
Great post Carol. I freely admit I’m not a very balanced reader. I only read a few genres but for now that is all I can handle. Lol
Thanks Gayla! You’re working full time and I imagine it’s more satisfying to stick with tried and true genres! I started branching out more when I retired and had more free time to explore! The reading life has definite seasons! Plus if you’re happy, that’s all that is important!
There’s another reason to be balanced in your reading – if it isn’t balanced, your book will fall on the floor! Seriously, nice idea, and a good topic but… my reading isn’t all that balanced. Hardly any non-fiction, and I’m pretty narrow with my genres. No matter… I read what I like!
I have certain genres I will not read…..so no balance there! Knowing your reading tastes and reading what you like is really what’s the most important! There’s no fun to be found in reading what you don’t like!
I don’t consciously look for balance but do often choose to read a lightish crime fiction novel in between more meaty books just to give the brain a rest
Brain breaks are important! Then it always feels extra nice to settle back in where we’re comfortable!
Absolutely – I just did something I haven’t done for decades. A ghost story (on audio). May be a long time before I do it again but it was a bit of a hoot
That’s fun Karen! 🙌😍
[…] Something Else—FanFiAddict’s David S. might have the most succinct post on this topic. Is a Balanced Reading Life Important?—I’ve never considered this […]
This is really good. I am not a balanced reader, by any means. I read almost exclusively in the fantasy genre. But I do read widely across that genre: urban fantasy, historical fantasy, sci-fi, romantic fantasy, erc. I enjoy historical fiction, memoir, and biography. I really enjoy middle-grade too.
My philosophy is to read what you like but don’t be afraid to try something new.
I love how you worded your reading philosophy! So true and right and freeing!
[…] Being retired has freed me to read voraciously – usually a book a day. And books from many genres as well. I read a wonderful post by Carol at Reading Ladies, entitled “Is a Balanced Reading Life Important?” […]
As with all the good things in life… BALANCE is important. (Just ask my husband LOL) It is difficult at times to maintain the reading pace required if you are a bookblogger. There are just SO many other things to do other than read. I’m lucky that I’m retired and have more leisure time now.
As to genre fatigue, it really IS a thing. I have taken to alternating my thrillers and mysteries with literary and historical fiction. This works for me. As for the other genres, I’ve tried many of them and found them not to my taste. I’m of the age now where I read only those titles and genres that I like. There was a time that I read out of my comfort zone with the aim of expanding my knowledge and experience. Those days are past.
As you mentioned Carol, there are exceptions to everything. I do NOT like science fiction, yet I’ve loved P.D James’s “The Children of Men” and “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes. I don’t like fantasies as a rule, but I do enjoy the odd time travel or paranormal theme.
Great discussion post!
I love your thoughts here Lynne! Thanks for contributing! I think as seasoned readers we’re really in tune with our tastes. Often after straying into a different genre I think “I should have known better!” But other times, it can be a delightful surprise! Project Hail Mary was like that for me! When I genre hop, I depend heavily upon my trusted blogger buddies to propel me toward a great read! And….juggling blogging and reading does seem like a full time job!
Great post Carol! I agree with all of these points. I do not read a lot of huge books as I lose interest, especially if there is a slower part in the middle (due to my ADD) but I have read some. I definitely understand reading a book before the movie. I read The Other Boleyn Girl and was not happy with the movie. I never would have read the book after watching it and that is just one example. As you know, I read a variety of genres for many reasons, enjoyment, brain cleanse, recommendation, learn something new etc. I have tried many genres to move out of my comfort zone, but there are some that I just don’t enjoy such as shifters, zombies, vampires etc. I am also not a lover of Sci-Fi, but have read some. I could keep going, but will stop there.
It’s so important to know our readings tastes. I also have genres I won’t read. And then others are just out of my comfort zone, so I might try one occasionally. I’m so happy I didn’t dismiss Project Hail Mary, for example.
This is a great way of looking at our reading patterns Carol and your balance seems to be spot on for the way I read too. I do like to mix things up from time to time and often need a break with a lighter book after reading something intense. Being in two bookclubs helps me read a variety of genres usually books I wouldn’t normally have chosen for myself.
Thanks for commenting Debbie! It sounds like a little balance is good for our reading lives!
I liked how you said that maybe you just haven’t read the right book in the genre you aren’t sure about. My friend and I have been talking about reading more and how we can branch out. We’ll be sure to try out some genres we may have overlooked in the past.
Thanks Olivia! I hope you find some wonderful reads!
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I go through periods where I read more broadly and periods where I stick to a certain genre a lot more. I’m okay either way, but I definitely agree that sometimes it’s nice to mix things up. I love your ideas about mixing lengths of books too—I really like to do that!
Thanks for adding your thoughts Nicole! It’s interesting to hear what others do!