As a reader, I prefer the term “interest zone” to “comfort zone.” I’ve never read a book that I would deem outside of my comfort zone. I’ve never felt the creepy crawlies from a genre of book that I would not normally read. Perhaps I’ve felt boredom in reading outside of my interest zone, but I can’t say as I’ve ever been uncomfortable in reading a book. It doesn’t really matter the term I prefer, I only know that it is a good thing to read outside of the interest or comfort zone. The greatest benefit of reading outside of my interest zone is perspective. I don’t have to like the books I go out of my way to read, but I’ll do it anyway just to gain an understanding of the material. It means something to someone, so that is enough for me to read the book. This is one of the ways empathy is developed. Empathy doesn’t drop out of the sky; sometimes it takes a progressive action such as reading a different book in order to gain perspective. Joe Bunting makes many great points about why reading out of your comfort zone is important. Reading outside of my interest zone hardly means that I have to stay there forever; I can always come home to the genre of books that I love. Staying inside my interest areas at all times though builds a static reading experience. I’m sure anyone avid reader has discovered numerous favorite authors by stretching their interests and comforts a bit.
I want to switch back to using the term comfort zone for this paragraph. Reason being there is a comfort zone out there. Our reading this week on self censorship enlightened me that “comfort” in reading selection certainly exists when talking about professional teachers and librarians. In this case the term “comfort” definitely applies because students are involved, and when students are involved parents are involved as well. Debra Whelan’s article on self censorship was eye opening to deceptive acts of book banning that occurs through the professional. Librarians and teachers will purposefully not place challenged books on the shelves because they want to avoid controversy and conflict with the community. This is a disservice to the students who may never have the chance to relate to the major authors that are being self-banned by the professionals. It really is inexplicable why books that address real issues of young adulthood would be banned. The controversial issues discussed in books are real. A student picking up a book that addresses what they are dealing with, personally, could help them in ways unimaginable. Let’s not be apprehensive about putting challenged books on the shelf just because they lay bare some real, challenging issues.