I have often wondered why I am attracted to darker books. Happy stories tend to bore and frustrate me – I prefer to read about characters battling against adversity or enduring situations that I hope I never come close to experiencing. I have often thought this behaviour to be strange so it was refreshing to hear Lionel Shriver talking about the subject at Vintage Classics Day. She also loves darker books, stating that it allows her to:
….experiment with emotion in a safe way.
When tragedy is present in books it intensifies all the emotions, increasing the significance of the happy periods and allowing us to see a greater range of the character’s personality traits. I love the roller-coaster of emotions produced when hardship is encountered and agree with Lionel Shriver that for a book to speak to people through the generations it must contain some degree of tragedy.
Can you think of any classics that don’t contain a tragic element?
What I can’t explain is why books with no happiness appeal. An example is Beside the Sea, a book in which all happiness is masked by dark sense of foreboding. It was one of my favourite reads last year, but it seems weird to actually enjoy reading something so devastagingly sad.
Why is reading about sadness a pleasure?
Do you share my passion for sad books?
Or, can you explain the joys of happy books to me?