What Do You Want to Get Out of Reading?

September 16, 2020 Uncategorized 8

I’ve been thinking recently about what I want to get out of my reading. My reading tastes have been shifting ever more strongly towards nonfiction and a little bit towards heavier reads. I’m also trying to take on more reading projects. All of this has made me consider what is motivating these changes and what, if anything, I’m trying to accomplish. I realized that for me, the reasons I read all essentially break down into two categories. I read for pleasure and I read to learn things. There are some variations on those themes though, depending on what sort of book I’m reading. Here are more specific descriptions of what I’m hoping for when I pick up books in a sampling of genres.

In this genre… This is what I consider fun… This is what I hope to learn…
Romance heartwarming, cozy, comforting plot with a happily ever after maybe something about what I want in a relationship or what I think is attractive/acceptable behavior
Thriller fast paced, twisty plot N/A – can you think of something that could go here? Let me know in the comments!
Literary fiction & Classics smart, witty, incisive commentary possibly some insight into human nature, exploration of an interesting topic or theme
Science fiction exciting, action packed, interesting world building possibly thoughtful exploration of what it means to be human or how technology might change our lives
Memoir moving or funny story telling insight into someone else’s lived experience
Narrative nonfiction engaging plot, interesting characters a story about how something happened in the past
Investigative journalism/True Crime extremely well researched, detailed story a story about a newsworthy event, often more current
Topical nonfiction (Science, Pop psychology, etc) information presented in an entertaining way detailed knowledge on one specific topic
Academic nonfiction N/A – If I’m not bored, that’s a win! extremely in depth knowledge on one specific topic

What do you enjoy about reading? Are there specific things you hope to experience when you pick up books in particular genres?

8 Responses to “What Do You Want to Get Out of Reading?”

  1. Brona

    For your thriller column, perhaps it’s learning how to think through a problem logically and picking out the real clues form the red herrings?!

    I recently put my goodreads books through the Storygraph system to see what it would throw up. For the past 5 yrs I mostly read ‘reflective’ books whether they be fiction or non-fiction. The next five contenders were – ’emotional’, ‘informative’, ‘light-hearted’, ‘challenging’ and ‘adventurous’. It was an interesting exercise, even though I won’t ultimately be making the shift from goodreads.

    Like you I read to be entertained and informed, but I also read to be moved – by the emotion of the story or by beautiful writing/imagery. But when I pick up a cosy crime I simply want comfort, familiarity and ease.

    • DoingDewey

      Ooh, that’s a good idea for what you might learn from thrillers! It also suggests to me the idea of learning to read more critically and remembering to consider that you might have an unreliable narrator, a skill that would be applicable to nonfiction too 🙂

      I also tried moving my books over to Storygraph and I think informative and challenging were pretty high on my list too. I’m not yet shifting away from goodreads either though. I didn’t love how much space Storygraph used to show each book and, since I use goodreads more for tracking my reading than for recommendations, I wasn’t sure Storygraph offered enough new features to make the move worth it.

      Interesting point about also wanting to be moved. For romance, I kind of touched on that in the entertainment column, but perhaps an additional column on the sort of emotions I hope will be inspired by different genres could also help me think through why I read.

  2. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Ooh, interesting! I think with thrillers, one thing I hope to at least… think about, if not learn, is what I would do in a similarly extreme situation. I don’t know if that counts as learning because of course I will never be in those situations, but part of the pleasure of books like that is the ingenious ways protagonists find to get out of the bad situations they’re in.

    • Jenny @ Reading the End

      Ooh, and an additional thought: While I do read for pleasure and to learn things, I think the broader category for me, rather than “to learn things” is “to think new thoughts.” Like to acquire thoughts from someone else’s brain, whether those are facts or insights or ideas of how to escape when you are being pursued by a ruthless government conspiracy. 😛

      • DoingDewey

        I’ve read some articles suggesting that women might be drawn to true crime in part because it allows us to live through frightening scenarios at a remove and imagine how we’d get through them. I’ve never felt like that’s what drives me personally – I think I’m there more for the looking at extremes of human nature side of things – but I’m guessing you’ve identified something a lot of people to do get out of reading both thrillers and true crime.

        I really like your re-framing of the learning aspect of reading! I also appreciate a book that makes me think about the world differently, even if it hasn’t actually taught me any new facts.

  3. Jenna @ Falling Letters

    Ahh, I love a chart! This is a really neat and I wonder what I would put for each genre that I read. I can see why you couldn’t think of anything to put for thriller. Usually the people in those books are generally miserable or experiencing miserable events, I don’t know what I could learn from them, lol. To appreciate my own non-thrilling life?! 😛

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