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 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 😉
And 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.
Plus, 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.
At 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.
And 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 something 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…
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!