I love happy endings, and I hate to cry. I know that is one reason that I gravitated to reading romances. Even in fifth grade, after reading Gone with the Wind, I knew that happy every after was a momentous necessity for me. In the nineties, I did read quite a few angst ridden romances secure in the knowledge that the author would not kill off the heroine or hero.
But over the last ten years, that has changed, and I have gradually eliminated books with torment and melancholy. My best guess is that this is related the loss of a family member and to my career, which at times encompasses situations that are distressing and heartbreaking. So now, I always scrutinize books, carefully, looking for hidden booby traps of angst, grief, and not quite happy endings. If I read the back blurb and it sounds iffy, then I am off to the message boards or reviews for spoilers. Not that this is a foolproof method. This past year, two authors, that I have a long history of reading, wrote books that ambushed me, and made me cry. The book that I read this past week had warning signs all throughout the book. With the introduction of the character, I knew that she was ill, not that the author said she was ill, but I knew. And I kept reading, erroneously assuming, she would be miraculously cured. However, I ended the book, with tears rolling down my face.
Now I don’t get neurotic about it. I can intellectually enjoy the book. I do appreciate the author’s genius in creating a fictional character that becomes so real to me, that I shed tears. At the time, I do think, “Wow, what a good book.” But give me a couple of days, and I distance myself from those emotions. I start internalizing the feelings almost immediately after finishing the book, suppressing the ambivalent ending, and of course that diminishes the impact. And with that, I tend not to re-read sad novels even if they have a happy ending. The other side of the coin, is if an author can make me laugh, the warm glow of a great book stays with me. Give me a book that makes me laugh, and I tend to think that is the best book ever written.
I read with some wonder, all the posts about people searching out tormented hero or heroines, loving the low lows and then the high highs. That seems as foreign to me as individuals jumping out of a plane, skydiving. Sure, I understand that a good cry can be cathartic but it not something that I seek out .
So what type of reader are you? Do you seek out the books full of torment, angst, and sadness? Does it make that happy every after more joyful or is there another reason? Do you feel that everyone needs a good cry? Or are you like me, in avoiding any hint of sorrow and heartache?
– Leigh Davis