Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Books and depression

I’ve mentioned before about picking random books up when visiting the library. Just by going to a shelf and selecting a book – any book – I have found new authors and new favourites.
Not so this week. The two books I picked at random were about terrorism and torture. This is one of the reasons I left my book club. We had six depressing books in a row. Far too many for a sensitive soul like me to cope with.
Why, when the world is in so much turmoil, do writers insist on making things worse? Where’s the escapism? Who is going to give a brighter side to things, some hope for the future?
Why are doctors supposedly suggesting reading as a cure for depression? The book club’s offerings made me feel miserable. My random choices from the library made me feel the same. (Thank the Universe for Laurie Graham and those like her.)
As a short story writer I have judged competitions and found many depressing stories, often about what’s happening in the world at that time. I was a judge when Madeleine disappeared and half the entries were about abduction. Lately, judges have been complaining about the number of depressing stories. It would appear that the same doesn’t apply when it comes to novels. Make your reader unhappy, miserable. Show them the horrors of torture in graphic detail and sign your publishing contract.

I’m packing my bags and setting off to live in People’s Friend World. 


  1. Lynne, in our book club, finding that we didn't always like the same books, and that having to read a particular book felt too like homework, we changed the formula. Now, we discuss the books we have read, lend those we have loved etc. This work really well, and nobody has to read a book they don't like!

    1. That sounds like a good idea, Frances. It's a shame the club I was in didn't want to change the formula.

  2. Oh those books sound grim, Lynne. I like a bit of escapism and if it comes with a few laughs, all the better. Frances' book club seems to have the right idea :-) xx

  3. Maybe its a bit of SADS going on? The most recent book I read that made me laugh out loud was 'One's Never Enough' by Jane Wenham-Jones.

  4. When I judge a competition, depressing stories and put on the 'discard' pile.

  5. Give me uplifting escapism every time! Just loved the Laurie Graham one you recommended Lynne - oh dear senior moment can't remember the title, Meringues something - wonderful laugh out loud brilliant writing.
    See you over in PF land!! :-) xx