We bookworms are VERY fond of painful books. This is a fact. Show me a bookworm and I nearly guarantee one of their all-time favourite books has reduced them to screeching messes. Which seems rather bizarre doesn’t it? Isn’t this our hobby for relaxation? Isn’t reading a pleasant thing we do?
Yet most of our conversations go like this:
Me: This book just KILLED MY FEELS.
Me: I am literally a mess of ANGST right now ajfdlksadjkl.
Me: My heart is FRACTURED.
Me: Here you need to read this.
WHYYYYY DO WE LIKE THE PAIN SO MUCH!??!
Okay, but there are reasons.
And I, as your resident helpful and most favourite book blogger of them all, have written down these reasons so you can a) understand why we all WANT these horribly painful books so much, (more importantly) you can b) agree with my analysation.
Which really should make no sense because…feelings? UGH. (Says the Vulcan.) Ahem. BUT OKAY. Most people do like to feel things. Good or bad — feelings are what makes us alive and interested in the world.We like to feel.
And can we take a second to point out that A COUPLE OF DEAD TREES GLUED TOGETHER WITH BLACK AND WHITE SCRIBBLES ON THEM ARE GIVING US FEELINGS???? Because that’s amazing. And really weird, when put that way…
2. BECAUSE IT SHOWS WE CARE ABOUT THE BOOK.
When your heart starts bleeding because you are ridiculously emotionally engaged in a fictional story…you know you care. OH GRAPE. YOU SURE DO CARE. And the best way to show you care is to ache and worry and fret over something.
3. BECAUSE PAIN IS THE #1 WAY TO KEEP THE ATTENTION OF PUNY BRAINED BOOKWORMS.
Readers are rather suckers, aren’t they? Show them a happy picnic and they’ll smile politely and go, “Yes, that’s nice” and then probably wander off to go make a sandwich. Show them a picnic where the earth suddenly erupts with an ancient dragon nest and they’re all hungry for human flesh and readers will go, “WAIT. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT” and probably even forget about their sandwich.
(I, though, wouldn’t forget about the sandwich. I can be emotionally engaged in exciting/dangerous books and STILL eat sandwiches. FYI. I’m just that talented.)
Danger and drama are what makes a story! People want to hear about the BAD. It appeals to us. It’s relatable. It’s exciting.
4. MAYBE YOU WERE DROPPED ON YOUR HEAD AS A BABY AND THAT EXPLAINS WHY YOU’RE SO STUPID AS TO LIKE SAD STORIES.
This is a highly probable fact. Check with your parents and see if this is the reason you like to sit up till 2am sobbing over a fictional character’s death and then proceeding to be a zombie in mourning the next day — BECAUSE THEY’RE DEAD AND NEVER COMING BACK AND WHAT IS THIS LIFE. (Cue gross sobbing.)
Because I mean REALLY. We’re all just stupid to like pain.
5. AUTHORS ARE CONTINUALLY HAVING PAYBACK AT OTHER AUTHORS WHO MADE THEM FICTIONALLY SUFFER. ERGO IT’S JUST A SAD CYCLE OF THE POWER OF REVENGE.
Once upon a time a small child read a book and HAD THEIR FEELS STOMPED UPON VICIOUSLY. So they grew up to be an author and, in pay back, wrote an even sadder and more painful book and FELT THE POWER OF REVENGE.
This will last as long as people are being stabbed by books.
6. IT REMINDS US THAT OUR LIVES REALLY DON’T SUCK THAT MUCH AFTER ALL.
I mean after you read about Katniss’ home-life and then what she went through in The Hunger Games (murder, mayhem, bad poisoned food, etc.), do you feel so bad about your own life? NOPE. And if that doesn’t convince you, just read Game of Thrones. Then you’ll be 100% happy with your house, your life, your family that isn’t stabbing you in the back.
Sad stories can put our miseries seem less insurmountable.
7. PAINFUL STORIES FEEL REAL, BECAUSE … WHO IS HONESTLY GETTING A HAPPILY EVER AFTER? PFFT. BASICALLY NO ONE.
Real life isn’t all peach pie and pickled pineapples. (I hope you paused to appreciate that alliteration.) Why would you want to read a story where EVERYTHING GOES RIGHT when, in real life, everything never goes right? Like sure, I dropped my toast, that sucks. BUT THEN IT GOES AND LANDS FACE DOWN AND THE JAM IS ON THE FLOOR AND NOW IT’S A SAD TOAST MURDER SCENE AND THE DAY IS RUINED.*
We want books to reflect REAL LIFE. It gives us a gleefully evil sense of pleasure to know that book characters are suffering with jammy catastrophes like we are.
* I’m sure we all feel this passionately about messing up our toast?
8. WHEN WE RISE ABOVE TRAGEDY, WE FEEL FREAKING AWESOME, DUUUUDES.
If we can pop back to my illustriously nice toast analogy of earlier…would you care if I just made my toast and ate it and life was fine? NO. But you would care if I had to battle 721 zombies to get more jam and then ate my re-made-toast while single-handedly saving hundreds of lives. Because it’s a) more awesome, and b) zoooooombies, and c) the toast tastes* SO MUCH BETTER when you’ve fought for it.
* This is actually an assumption. I have not fought zombies for the chance to eat my toast so I ACTUALLY DON’T KNOW IF I’D FEEL COOLER EATING IT. It’s on the need-to-experiment list.
9. PAINFUL BOOKS STAY WITH US LONGER.
Because of all the above reasons. We’re now a) emotionally invested, b) we care what happens, c) we ponder and relive the awfulness to wonder if it could’ve been better or different somehow, and d) we’re now just super depressed (THANKS A LOT BOOK) ergo we remember the book and the sad feelings it inspired.
I’m not even sure these are good??? But maybe they are??? Who doesn’t like weeping and gnashing of teeth now and then, apparently?
10. IT GIVES US A FRIGHTFULLY GOOD EXCUSE TO COMPLAIN ALL OVER THE INTERNET, COMPARE WOUNDS WITH OTHER BOOKWORMS, AND CONSUME CHOCOLATE.
Sure we can compare books that made us laugh…but wouldn’t you rather be able to run screeching to your friend saying “THIS BOOK HURT ME. WHATCHA GONNA DO ABOUT IT?” and then have them royally defend you by reading the book too so they can sob in your arms? #friendgoals
I mean, who has been emotionally bullied by a book? RAISE YOUR HANDS. It brings us together and makes us talk. We compare exactly how fractured our feels are. Friends are forged over the tragedy of fictional pain.
Then we do it all again and force each other to eat sad books and WE HAVE NO REGRETS AND I THINK THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ALL OF US, TO BE HONEST.
But the excuse to each chocolate is a real thing. No regrets there.