There is always room for lighter books

thoughts orangutan

A while back I wrote a post about the need for darkness in books. It’s a topic I have a lot of passion for as I’ve always hunger more for edgier reads. Not everyone agrees with me on that front (and that’s fine) so much so that I often see concerted efforts to sanitise books (which is not so fine)- hence my writing the “darkness” piece in the first place. That said, just because I want to preserve the murkier stories doesn’t mean I dislike cheerier works. In fact, I think the more the merrier! So let’s get into why lighter books are awesome:

laughter is the best medicineLaughter is the best medicine– yes, it may be a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. In fact, one of my motivating factors to get this blog started was to have a laugh (sometimes at a book’s expense 😉 ). In all seriousness, I started this blog to revel in the JOY of reading and, as many of you can probably tell from my blog name, I was hugely inspired by Pratchett- the comic-fantasy master- and I certainly don’t read his work to be miserable 😉

otters holding handsAnd don’t we want to bask in some positivity from time to time? You know you do- I see you checking out puppy pics on twitter and sharing pictures of otters holding hands and enjoying the rare occasion when there’s a happy news story on TV. There’s a reason cat videos took off on youtube- cos cats are awesome and SECRETLY TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD ;). *Ahem*- just kidding- it’s because there’s a market for it.

dragon gifPlus, books aren’t just supposed to be about reality- they’re for escapism. Reading books is like hopping on a dragon to another world and taking a break from our lives. Given how dark everything can be nowadays, it can be a relief.

chill slothAt the same time, joyful books can be very real. Not everything has to be doom and gloom (I know, shocker, the real world is not so scary- at least not all the time 😉 ). Sometimes it’s nice to just chill out and think of the happier side of life.

 

because i'm happyAnd it’s not like whether a book is light or dark speaks to its quality. I’ve read my share of melodramatic bilge; I’ve also read my fair amount of delectable fluff. Whether it’s romantic or humorous or simply informative- a book doesn’t have to be grim in order to be brilliant. Even going by my ratings (and as I said earlier I lean more towards the dark side) I give out more than enough bananas for books that bring me pure pleasure.

Plus- and I’m gonna be brutally honest here- the idea you have to suffer for your art is pretty toxic. I have unfortunately met people in real life that think they have to be miserable for the sake of art. Now, do not misunderstand me: I think it’s really important people write from experience and are not guilted out of it AND I also believe people should let their imaginations run wild if they want to write something darker that they haven’t experienced. BUT I also feel like if you haven’t had the experience to write tastesomething messed up, you should know that you don’t have to put yourself through the wringer in order to be successful. Aside from the fact I’m a firm believer that everyone has something to draw on, my response to people struggling with this myth is consider writing something happy. To end on a similar note as my darkness in books piece: it’s all about balance and taste. There is no right or wrong here. The truth is, there’s space for sweet, salty and maybe even a little spice. Whatever flavour you choose is upto you 😉 And really, there’s no reason we can’t all be satisfied…

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So do you agree or disagree with me here? And do you have a particular preference for dark or light books? Let me know in the comments!

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79 thoughts on “There is always room for lighter books

  1. Kat Impossible says:

    Awe, this was a really great book! I love light-hearted books to sort of cleanse my pallet. There is nothing better than a story that warms your heart and a leaves a smile on your face. As you said, it doesn’t have to be doom and gloom all the time. If you are in the mood for that, sure, seek out the misery! But if you want to laugh and giggle and swoon, there’s nothing wrong with that either. I really feel like that is something that’s not said enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sharon Bonin-Pratt says:

    I’m all for including some humor in even the darkest stories. Anything by David Sedaris points out how ludicrous life is, as does John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces – just be forewarned you’ll be hanging on the side of the life raft in stitches. Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams always come to mind. All these books are hilarious, brilliant, and wise.

    Anyone ever laugh at a funeral? Ugh, yeah.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Krysta says:

    One of the reasons I love Tolkien is for how ordinary he seems (aside from, you know, his literary genius and all that). He basically was just a guy who got married, did his job at the university (while hating parts of it), then retired. Nothing dramatic or scandalous. And he was sill a wonderful artistic! I definitely don’t think suffering is necessary for art.

    And I think joy can be more difficult to write than darkness. Amateur writers tend to gravitate towards poems and stories about being overdosed or losing a love and all that. It seems easy to do that and be “deep.” It’s harder, I think, to take a moment of joy and translate that so it comes across the page.

    Liked by 3 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehe yes aside from his literary genius, that is one of the best things about Tolkien 😉 That’s true to an extent- although he did fight in WWI so I don’t know that he managed to escape the darker sides of life. But I think the main thing is that he didn’t go looking for it.

      Really agree with that! hehe that’s true. Wonderful point!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beware Of The Reader says:

    I do agree with you. As in life, we need a balance. When my real life is pretty stressful and tiring I will need lighter reads. Whereas when I am relaxed I can feel the need to delve into something darker.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Never Not Reading says:

    YES!!!!

    My favorite books are books that are feel-good books. Not necessarily “fluff”, per se, but books that are positive and leave me feeling happy. The Goblin Emperor is a great example. Extreme hard fantasy, but wasn’t dark in any way. The Temeraire series and The Hobbit also hold special places in my heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Margaret @ Weird Zeal says:

    I love this post! I definitely agree and I firmly believe that there needs to be space for feel-good, happy reads. I especially appreciate your point that a book’s lightness doesn’t mean that it’s not as quality as something darker! Some of my favorite books are ones that have some darkness, but ultimately leave you feeling good and warm inside, and I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. littlebookynook says:

    Yes to all of this!! I really love happy reads, thinking about it now, I think a lot of the books I read are rather dark and ominous hahaha. Sometimes you just want to read something where there aren’t conflicts, or people trying to take over the world (though I guess I do seem to prefer these types of books). It’s the same with movies, I generally find that I want to watch light stuff rather than get into movies that are heavy. As always, a wonderful, thought-provoking post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The Cozy Pages says:

    books aren’t just supposed to be about reality- they’re for escapism… Yes yes yes!!!!!!! Lol
    I read so much depressing stuff in the news and even for work that I choose to surround myself with happy stories on my own time. Yes I’ll choose something darker/ heavier from time to time but leave me be with my happy books. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    LOVE THIS! Especially your last point about how the idea of having to suffer for your art being toxic – I definitely think that it’s possible for people to enjoy creating their art. The whole starving artist trope does no one any favours, least of all people trying to make a full time living from their art.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Maddie A. says:

    I don’t really have a preference, I think it just depends on what kind of book I feel like reading that day. Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I’d read a lighter book for a pick-me-up, but other times I’d read a dark/sad book so I can have a good cry 😂
    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Jia Xuan says:

    I agree! I think there should be a balance to light and dark (not unlike the force heheh) and it’s great to immerse ourselves in darker books but that we should also learn not to reject lighter books, of which can be very real.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Kristina Steiner says:

    I definitely agree–there is room for everything. The market is huge and tastes are various. Nothing is wrong and everything is right. It’s about balance and finding something you want and feel like reading. If I’m stressed, I need something light and fun; if I feel lighter and at ease, I might feel like reading something darker. Or the other way around.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Marie says:

    YES this is such a great post! I really love light and fluffy reads, they are always my favorite kind, actually and I think it’s so important to remember that yes, there is room for these kind of books and they’re always needed ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    I wouldn’t say I have a preference either way for lighter or darker stories. I do tend to read more darker stories just because my favourite genre is fantasy (let’s be honest, when it comes to fantasy books they do tend to be more dark than anything else). But every so often I do want something lighter which will have me laughing out loud. Some of my faves are Carry On and The Gentleman’s Guide, they’re my automatic re-reads when I need a break. 🙂
    Great post. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  15. waytoofantasy says:

    Great post! I absolutely love lighter books, fluffy reads, books full of hope even when bad things happen. These days I find myself craving those kind of reads even more than usual. Nothing wrong with wanting a laugh or a little hope in your life. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Ola G says:

    I’m more of a dark books fan – same with movies, really 😉 So long as the world around me is a good place, I’m happy to read dark fiction 😀 And as I don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like to, light books get pushed far down my list (though I don’t count Pratchett as light reading ;), I always have time for his books!)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Norrie says:

    I always consider myself as someone who has a sense of humour and love having fun. But at the same time, i kinda find myself purposefully avoiding “light” books. The ones that say “lighthearted”, “delightful”, “heartwarming”… i run in the other direction. I couldn’t really tell you why, to be fair 😀
    So i think we can conclude i prefer “dark” stories.
    When it comes to fluff, or funny stuff, i usually consume them in TV series format 😀

    Agree on the point that stories don’t have to be realistic. I mean if they had to be, there wouldn’t be any dragon story and the likes. That’d be sad…

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Bryan Fagan says:

    Most of us have had a bad experience or two that has left us just a tad damaged. The girl who dumped you, the friend who moved away and so on.

    Those are moments a person can go back to if they need to create something dark. But to create it or force yourself to be miserable is not only bad for your health it’s bad for those around you.

    Who wants a method writer. Actors are bad enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Jina Bazzar says:

    I enjoy darker reads, however, like you said, books provide me with a sort of escape from reality, hence the reason all my darker reads are from the fantasy genre. If i read something on the other genres, it needs to have some sort of humor and most definitely need to end on a happy note.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Madam Mim says:

    I don’t particularly enjoy books that are too miserable or dark… I like some hope and something to feel good about at the end of a book. I’m with you on this one! Not that dark books don’t have their place… but I tend to prefer them on the fun side

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Yesha - Books Teacup and Reviews says:

    I enjoy both light and dark books but I lean towards light-hearted book more, Specifically those that leave me giggling and laughing out loud. I like those funny look people around me give whenever I laugh on reading something. 😁 Amazing post! We all need that refreshing dose from light-hearted books. It makes us feel life is good and there can be happily-ever-after.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. jen_bookworm says:

    I’ve always loved the darker stuff even as a child. But I try to read light-hearted books too, sometimes you need to just to have a good balance. But I get a buzz from reading horror and dark books. I’m just that kinda weird 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts says:

    Hmmm…depends on my mood. I do like reading Edgar Allan Poe’s works, which are darker. I think i tend to lean towards “Gothic Literature” – it’s dark but poetic? I don’t like psychology thrillers or what not…I get scared…

    I tend to read either epic adventure stories or light novels — they make me happy, and I tend to read for “escapism”.

    Great post and thoughts — I like seeing people’s reading preferences 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Sarah says:

    Totally agree with you!!! A piece of art, be it a book, a painting, a movie or music doesn’t need to be grim to be brilliant. I mean, all books by Terry Pratchett underline this fact *brilliantly*. 😉
    Also balance in all things is important, dark and light, grim and funny, and yes: stupid and brilliant – otherwise how would we recognize the latter examples?

    Liked by 1 person

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