My Thoughts on Depressing Literature

So, I finished reading Lord of the Flies the other day. A few days before that I finished Othello. Like many other students, I’ve been required to read these and many other books and short stories as part of my schooling. Lately though, I’ve been pondering why anyone would what to read these sad, depressing books.

Now hear me out. I’m not saying they aren’t “good”, I’m just saying that they are sad and depressing – and don’t humans have to deal with enough depressing things in their own lives? They get you to care deeply about certain characters only for them to be gruesomely killed off. We all go through deaths of family, friends, mentors, and public figures throughout our lives. Why would one want to go through the deaths of characters in movies, books, and other forms of fiction? How does that make something worth reading/watching?

I get that they make you feel intense “emotions” and all that, but why would you want to feel “emotions” that cause you stress, sadness, depression, etc.? Shouldn’t books be used as an escape to a reality where your dreams come true instead of a reality that you wish never to be part of?

I read a lot of books. Some of my favorite books include The Kingdom Keepers, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and The Twenty-One Balloons (of course, a lot of my other favorite books (the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, etc) have freakier elements, but I’m making a point, so just keep reading and bear with me). Now, these books are branded *kids books* because they don’t feature any extreme violence. The same with music, film, or any media. If it is appropriate for all ages, it is marked as *kids* and avoided by a lot of older readers. Why must writers incorporate extreme violence or inappropriate content if they wish there works to be noticed by older audiences?

Is it just because that when we get older we are expected to partake and enjoy darker activities? Are we supposed to suddenly want to watch horror films and read books where death is the main plot point? Is this really what we want to read or are we just taught that this is what we are supposed to want?

Now I could just be seeing everything from my vantage point in a rainbow-filled world of joy and happiness, but I want to hear what you think. Why read depressing books?

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One Response to “My Thoughts on Depressing Literature”

  1. Denice Martone Says:

    Cooper! Love your blog. When I want entertainment i don’t want to leave feeling morose, either.

    Books contain ideas and ideas make the world go round. To make the world work it takes leadership and the courage to make decisions in the face of adversity, pain, and evil, which has many cousins— greed, envy, sloth– just to name a few. I think it is best to encounter these realities in fiction and novels…first. A novel I never stop enjoying is called “A Winter’s Tale”, by Mark Helprin. It is fantástico and historic, set in New York City 100 years ago. That, and Sherlock Holmes…

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