Searching for a Happy Ending?

There’s an interesting article in this past week’s Guardian–the British paper I love to read–in which the Chair of the Orange Prize, Daisy Goodwin, laments the dearth of feel good literature (my words) in this year’s stack of books vying for the prestigious prize. Here’s the link to the article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/mar/17/misery-orange-prize-judge-authors

A woman from my personal book group always accuses me of considering only depressing books as true literature. In my defense, I don’t really think that; there are plenty of ‘feel good’ books (sorry–I haven’t had enough coffee this morning to come up with a better description) out there that are worth reading. However, I do feel that the human condition is a mix of light and dark (I agree with Ms. Goodwin there) and the world is full of darkness that must be faced–which the very best books do. There’s usually some redemptive quality, however, even if it’s in the work an individual does to bring purpose to one’s life–I am thinking Heart of Darkness, for instance.

Ms. Goodwin “accused publishers of ‘lagging behind what the public want’, of not getting that readers do want pleasure and do want enjoyment when they read.” Well, yes, and actually, I think I want different things from reading, depending on my mood, but by and large I want a) a great story, b) something that moves me (is this another way of saying something I can relate to?), and c) something that makes me think.

How about you? What do you look for when you’re reading?

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