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That dark place

Captain's Log, Stardate 12.02.2008

I was talking with my friend (I can’t remember if it was Danica or Cheryl, but I think it was Danica) about books and why certain genres or titles are hard for me to read.

I have a very hard time reading women’s fiction. I don’t enjoy all the crying it makes me do. And after reading a title, I tend to feel depressed for a few days afterward, which often hinders my writing.

Danica had really good insight. Some readers can’t read certain genres because the stories cause them to look away from God.

For instance, several people can’t read suspense or thrillers because it’s too dark or gory or scary. It takes them to a dark place they don’t want to go. And really, when you read a book, you shouldn’t be ruled by fear—that’s not from God.

I can totally understand people who can’t read suspense, although I personally have no problems reading it. I have problems watching horror movies for the same reason—the fear overcomes me, and that’s not from God.

Some readers—usually single women—can’t read romances because it makes them dissatisfied with their lives. I can totally relate to that—while I love romances, I had to limit how many I read when I was single for the same reason.

So why wouldn’t it be strange that I can’t read women’s fiction? The deep emotional issues and the pain the characters suffer take me to a dark place in my soul, even though I know Christian women’s fiction usually has a satisfying ending.

I have always suffered from mild depression, although I didn’t realize this until I got my degree in Psychology in college. When I read about a character’s pain in a women’s fiction novel, I feel that pain and it triggers my depression, despite reading a satisfying ending to the book. And I don’t think that depression is from God.

I feel a bit freer now, knowing this about my reading tastes. There are only certain women’s fiction novels I can read that don’t take me to that dark place. The recent Karen Kingsbury book I read, Sunset, didn’t do that, even though I was bawling on every other page. It didn’t trigger my depression.

There are so many great writers out there who write women’s fiction, but I just can’t read very much of it. So you won’t find many women’s fiction book reviews on this blog.

Then again, I tend to be so irreverent, I doubt that people visit my blog to read about serious stuff.

Well, today was a bit serious. Are there types of books you can’t read for some reason?

Comments

  1. I am not a suspense fan. I like the cozy mystery and the love inspired supsense are ok but I dont read alot of heavier ones although I loved Broken Angel.
    I also find some contempory I dont get into. I think it depends on the subject. I know reading Trouble the water I enjoyed but at the time mum went to hospital and I didn't know if she would come home and it was hard to read. I had the same issue with one other book where the hero has cancer. while mum didn't have cancer the life and death struggle I just couldn't deal with at the time.
    Some others I haven't been able to read cos I cant understand the charactors. I dont have an issue with romances being single I just wish some of what happens would happen to me. I struggle with some that have to much information which detracts from the story. One on the south and voodoo I was found hard to deal with and it felt dark reading it. It was partly cos it explained and gave way to much information on the subject. I know its an involved subject but the book actually felt dark and you could feel the darkness at times and it did take alot to read it. I read a series about mormans and the startings and felt the same way. I was so glad to finish it. I was listening to a Randy Stonehill cd and I still cant listen to a couple of the songs without getting chills cos of the book.

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  2. Thank you, Camy. I don't read Women's Fiction, either. Someone (a WF author) asked me why not and I said because it doesn't guaranteee an HEA. She said that wasn't realistic and I said I have enough reality in my own life. When I spend money on a book instead of tucking it away for my kid's education, I want a guarantee it will be cathartic and although I might cry buckets while reading it, I'll be sighing and smiling at the end.

    Other genres I don't read are erotica, fantasy and science fiction.

    And, like Ausenny, I don't want to read books on death and cancer. There is a YA author whom my teen used to read. I think she's read every one of her dozens of books and each book has someone with a disease, a disability or dying. My teen loved them. Well, it's like the news for me - I've seen enough of that - Been there, done that - you know the drill. Life is short and I don't want to wallow in negative thoughts any more.

    I have a wonderful husband of over 30 yrs, 4 great children, an awesome God who's waiting for me...give me an HEA and I'm happy.

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  3. Nice post, Camy. I'm having a hard time getting into historical fiction. I have a few on my TBR list...so I'm going to try it...but I just have reservations about it since history doesn't interest me.

    BUT, I thought the same about suspence novels too, until I read my first couple this past few months. I like the genre...

    So, we'll see. But then again, my favorite genre is the supernatural/speculative fiction...so I spend most of my time reading/writing that.

    Great post today, Camy.

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  4. I can't read the horror stuff at all. And some suspense is too much for me...but what I usually end up doing is getting too tired of a genre - like a while back I was only reading romance and after awhile it was getting to me (yes I am single) - everything was too happy, too neat, too tidy. So then I have to read something else for awhile - which I did.

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  5. I don't do horror and I'm selective about suspense. (Thanks to Stephen King's IT.) In fact, I'm reading my first Brandilyn Collins' book now.

    I went thru a period of not reading romance in my single days. I always liked women's fiction but I can honestly say I relate to lots of it more now than I used to.

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  6. I love historical fiction but I need to limit myself because more than once I slip into old english/ scottish/ or whatever and folks look at me strangely when I ask them questions using non 21st standard adjectives.

    I can't do gore or horror because it is hard to get the images words conjure up out of my mind.


    It may sound weird but it is really hard for me to read romance novels. It is not because of the physicality that is described in the books (veiled or otherwise), it is because all the women in these books are the embodiment of western beauty - petite, long flowing hair, tiny waists and light eyes. Since I do not possess any of these qualities, it is hard for me to imagine me as the lovelorn (starved) heroine. Most of the duskier types of folks, which I am, in these books were little more than bedwarmers and servants and never feel they can aspire to greatness in the world.

    Maybe I should write a novel with myself as the heroine and see if there is a market for such a thing
    ;)

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  7. I'm glad to know I'm not alone about some books I can't read, although it sounds like most of you have difficulty with horror and suspense rather than women's fiction. LOL
    Camy

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  8. Hi Camy -

    I recently did a post about this subject. One of the big no-nos for me is anything that treats the occult as a good thing. I can deal with it as long as it's not the main focus of the book and the author clearly shows that it's wrong.

    I like to read a variety of books. Although I like Honey-Nut Cheerios every day, I get bored with only suspense, only romance, only women's fiction or only contemporary novels.

    Thanks for being transparent. So many folks are afraid to admit there's a genre they don't appreciate.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  9. I haven't read any I COULDN'T read except for when I was in hight school my teacher madeus all read a biography and it HAD to be about sports. I'm not a sport person and I couldn't make myself read it. Never have read one of those books.
    I think I may be sheltered some or at least not experienced in many different books because I don't have any I just can't read except non Christian ones that have cussing in them. I am SO THANKFUL I found out there is such a thing as Christian books!
    Pam Williams
    cepjwms at yahoo dot com

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  10. Camy can you explain to this aussie what exactly womans fiction is.
    I get so confused with all the different ones.

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  11. Jenny, Women's fiction is contemporary fiction specifically with women's issues. They tend to be very emotional. They can have some romance, but it's not a major thread, and many women's fiction novels have no romance at all.
    Camy

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  12. I absolutely can not read sci fi.... just can't. Suspense, romance, great. Right now, however, I'm in a romanitc suspense phase, between that and chick lit, light, funny, and always a happy ending, lol.

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  13. Oh ok. The couple I read that dealt with death and sickness would be Womens fiction. One I just could not read it left me feeling down and I just couldn't get into it even though others raved about it.
    I think it was my mind space. I have had a couple like that that were not me.
    I think it depends to me on the subject. At the moment reading any set in a nursing home would be out! I dont think I have a lot of Womens fiction.

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  14. I can read the "cozy" suspenses and I love when romance has suspense, but suspense in and of itself is waaaaay too much for me. And those thriller ones, too. I read a Dee Henderson book (I think it was *The Witness*) and it was too much for me.

    I also can't read some of the really tragic stories. I have several family members with cancer and it's tough to read stuff like that. I mean, people die in stories and everything but when they have people dropping like flies it gets a little uncomfortable. And little ones dying is a no-no. I have several sibling under the age of five and I guess that's why it makes me depressed reading when kiddos die.

    I don't have a problem with romance as a single, but I don't like over-the-top descriptions. You know. It doesn't enhance the story at all.

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  15. Dear Abby,

    (er, Camy...)

    This is EXACTLY the conversation I was having with someone we both know. The thing is she was telling me was that I write "self actualization (becoming all God wants you to be) and overcoming and encouraging" which puts me into women's fiction genre--but I, like you, have a hard time reading women's fiction. It's so frustrating. I don't know what to do.

    Aren't you supposed to write what you love to read? If that were so, I'd be writing historical romance or suspense or romantic suspense. So, what am I supposed to do?

    I'm like a deer in the headlights right now. I'm so old and I want to send something out THIS year, but I'm stuck on this. I try not to think about it and just see how the story goes, but I've worked too long on the other side to do that now.

    Anyway, this post really hits me because I do not like to read most women's fiction. It makes me so uncomfortable and I just don't want to read it, even though I certainly have read plenty of it in jobs or for magazine reviews. I don't know where I fit and I ALWAYS know where manuscripts fit. This is part of what I do!

    I've been in a bad state ever since this conversation.

    Signed, Crystal in Quandary

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  16. I am not a fan of women's fiction either, it's very depressing to my spirit. Horror is right up there too. One genre that I have to carefully check out is Chick Lit... some is wonderful, light, funny but some is so empty and I go away feeling totally disgusted. Your books, Camy, are a good example of quality Chick Lit but recently I've dumped 4 books by various authors that were a total zero for me. I felt very bummed by the money I spent on them and it has made me very cautious with future purchases.

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  17. Thanks Mary! I can relate to feeling bummed about money spent on books that aren't satisfying. I read a lot of mainstream, but often I read mainstream chick lit and there's that empty feeling afterward, I totally relate to what you're saying. The characters are just so shallow you don't even LIKE them.

    Camy

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  18. I know this is late. There was a computer error and I couldn't post earlier.

    I like cozy mysteries/suspense. I wish there were more "murderless mysteries/suspense out there. I also like urban christian and historical fiction. I want to branch out more. I'm open to almost any genre. But I'm picky about what I read.

    I don't like anything that is too graphic or depressing. I hate stories that have no plot. I don't read much women's fiction. But I do like books by Stacy Hawkins Adams. People do die but there is hope and I have a positive feeling after I read the books.

    ReplyDelete

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