Monday, September 2, 2013

The Quality of Light

Enjoyable books are underrated

I respectfully disagree with the prevailing opinion that equates dark and gritty with quality, and then derides stories filled with optimism and humor as ‘escapist’ entertainment only for the undiscriminating masses.  Such books tend to be viewed as light, unrealistic, and of lower quality.  Which is nonsense.

Sure, there’s a lot of misery in the world (and if you watch too much news you might get the idea there’s little else – but there is so much good.)  The general idea seems to be that the dark and gritty is what’s real and that we need to learn about all the suffering and horrible things in the world, all the dark corners of the human mind.  Pah.

Who can escape knowing about these things?  What we (desperately, in my opinion) need to know is the hope that helps us overcome. 

There is a certain cathartic healing in sharing someone else’s suffering, but only when you come out the other side – into the healing.  If you get stuck in the sorrow, you’re just giving in to the depression, rather than beating it.  And you can beat it by seeing the light at the end of the tunnel rather than the darkness around you.

So there’s no reason stories focusing on the good should be considered inferior to those that bathe in bleakness – because it’s only a difference of what the writer chooses to focus on.  And because of the pain and suffering in the world, I’d rather read (and write) optimistic stories, rather than wallow in the pain.

I enjoy reading about other people’s triumphs and successes (even when they’re fictional characters.)  That’s not escapism, that’s hope.  And without hope, how can we expect to overcome the challenges in life?

Those of us who enjoy reading ‘light’ stories understand that they don’t portray a world without pain and suffering.  They admit the heartache, but show people persevering in the face of adversity, with a sense of humor and hope for the future, denying the power of the problems to take over our lives – and enjoying the blessings of life along the way.  Because refusing to focus on the hardships is different from denying they exist.

For our lives are defined by where we set our minds.  You are what you read.  So I try to spend my time reading what will help me.

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