"Why do we read books that make us sad? Why do we read books that make us question what we believe, bawl our eyes out or make us so angry that we are tempted to throw the book across the room?" -- Story Wings
After reading Forbidden (my review is here) it felt as if my emotions had been put through a shredder and it made me really think about what I believe in when it comes to such a taboo subject...
But I think maybe that's why people read books like that... well, that's why I read them.
Most of the time, books are an escape and I just want to get caught up in someone elses world for a while instead of thinking about my own or I'll read them because the subject matter interests me...
But sometimes... sometimes I read them because I want to find something I can relate to. I want to read something and see the words on the page explain something I've experienced or felt better than I ever could because seeing it written down makes me understand it better -- makes me understand myself better.
It's the same thing with making you think and question your beliefs... you learn more about yourself through that (for example: if someone thinks of themselves as open minded and that they're okay with homosexuality but they can't read a book about it or would be grossed out by it then maybe they're not as okay with it as they thought -- or maybe it would make someone who was against it or didn't know where they stood on the issue understand it better and realise it's not as wrong as they thought it was).
Good books make you feel... but the really amazing books are the ones that can make you feel like your emotions have been put through a paper shredder and the characters and their stories and the bad things that happen to them get stuck in your head and under your skin and you just know that those feelings are going to linger long after you finish the last page.
Most of the time, I would prefer it if the ending of a book was all rainbows and butterflies and even if the characters have their ups and downs, I still get to read a happy ending and be left with that warm fuzzy feeling and dorky happy smile on my face... but sometimes I want a book that will make me cry.
It's like the same reason I watch sad movies sometimes, they give me an excuse to cry and sometimes a person just needs that and with books that are sad, the feeling is just more intense, I think.
Plus, another thing I've found is that even the sad books tend to have a sense of hope about them -- even if the characters lose everything, even if they go through abuse or loss of a loved one or an addiction or illness, the point is they usually get through it... and it's not easy and it's not supposed to be and it reminds me that life is the same. Bad things happen, we just have to get through it and seeing characters do that and being able to get inside their head and experience that with them, it's kind of inspiring. Like the end of Forbidden.
And really, sometimes we don't know how much a book is going to affect us unless we know it's about a subject that pushes our buttons or we know what is going to happen... but even then, our reactions can be unpredictable. I went into Forbidden knowing what it was about and I knew how it was going to end (because I read the last chapter/pages first *spoiler addict*), but I didn't know it was going to make me feel as strongly as it did.
So yeah, basically, although reading is often just an escape, sometimes I just want a book that will make me feel--whether it's good or bad--and I like how books can help me figure myself out a bit better... no one knows me completely, not even myself, but when I read books that push my limits and have me questioning what I believe in or rethinking things, it helps me know more about myself.
...Plus, I also have this weird childlike mentality when watching sad movies or reading sad books -- even if I know how it's going to end, a small part of me is always hoping that somehow it'll end differently and the characters will get a happy ending. Never happens of course and logically I know it never will, but it doesn't stop me from hoping every time I watch Titanic or Pearl Harbour or Keith or every time I read certain Harry Potter books or Looking for Alaska that I'll get a different ending.
Anyway, I'll shut up now... what are your thoughts? Why do you read sad books?