I wrote previously on how I’m super picky about what I read in terms of tense, perspective, etc. and it’s worth mentioning that, compared to some other things, those are just minor preferences. It’s a wonder I read anything at all, considering my criteria for a new book or movie.
When it comes down to it, I think my biggest thing is that a book has to be relatively happy. Not just the ending, either. I have a hard time reading books full of darkness and bad news. Emotional torment is one of the things I really have a hard time dealing with. So when I read books that are just full of negativity on every page, it gets me feeling the same way, and when I spend my leisure time reading, that’s not exactly how I want to feel.
I recognize that a lot of people are talented writers, and that they can do things like write sorrowful or sad or angsty scenes, but I just don’t like that. (And don’t anyone say, ‘Well that’s not realistic!’ Well, neither are dragons or Quidditch matches.) Sure, give me conflict, give me a plot, give me something that everyone is working towards, but if there’s too much of it, I just don’t like it.
There could be a few things for this. For one, as very much the empathetic introvert, when stuff starts going down, I feel like it’s happening to me. Not cool. The second reason is that lingering effects of clinical depression still swim just below the surface, and reading certain things really, really get to me. I’m reading books for fun, it shouldn’t feel like that! I can handle some things, sure, but the darker the book, the more satisfying the resolution has to be. For a book full of death and doom and depression, it has to really work hard to make up for it, and some just… don’t.
This is kind of an unfortunate preference. There are some great books out there that I’ve tried my hardest to appreciate. I wanted so badly to like these books, but I just couldn’t. I had such a negative reaction to the way things were written that I was relieved to get rid of the book, and that sucks. It really does. Many people can read these things and not be all too bothered, and I miss a lot of cool stuff that way. It actually really bothers me when I end up disliking a book that I’ve put so much effort into liking.
I’m the same way with books I write. I can’t torture my characters too much. Or if I do, there are certain methods that are off limits. A few critics have said that my works are too positive, or don’t have enough fighting and drama and whatnot. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. Just because my characters don’t come from Angsty Middle School in Passive Aggressive, CA doesn’t mean it’s necessarily lacking. Or so I feel. But I do acknowledge that sometimes I just don’t have as much doom and gloom as I should. Because it’s hard to write.
I’ve never been the same way with movies, though. I think it’s due to the fact that movies last a few hours at most, whereas with a good book I’ll be sitting there for half a day, or to the other extreme, years (with series that aren’t complete). My emotional investment in books is far beyond that of anything else, so I’m extremely picky. Either way there are things that I just can’t handle, and too much torture/sadness is one of them.
Is there anyone else out there like me, people who thrive on satisfying stuff? (Not necessarily unrealistically happy, just satisfyingly happy. Or are you the type who can read just about anything and it doesn’t get to you too much?
Also, hooray for finally posting again! Life has me way too busy to even reply to comments lately. I swear I’m not ignoring you.