When I finished reading Asking for It by Louise O’Neill a few weeks ago, I realised how much I had actually enjoyed it. I gave the book five stars in my review, so you’d think it’s obvious I enjoyed it. However, when it comes to books that deal with difficult topics, books that have terrible things happen to the characters, the ratings are often based on the importance of the book as opposed to the actual enjoyment of reading it. So today I want to ask you this: can you actually, genuinely enjoy difficult books?
I will spoil the discussion by out-right saying that, personally, I can. I am a sucker for tragedy and dark stuff, so I love difficult books. I am also rarely disgusted or emotionally affected by the things I read. It might sound rather cold, but while I know that the things that happen in Asking for It are terrible, and I was infuriated a lot of the time while reading it, I never felt so affected that I had to put the book down. I enjoyed reading it, I wanted to know how the main character would deal with the situation, and I loved it. I am aware that this is quite a privileged position to come from, as a lot of people have to deal with triggering topics. On the downside, however, it makes me feel like I’m a terrible person sometimes – is it wrong for me to find enjoyment in difficult books? Should I hate reading about terrible things and give the books good ratings because of their importance? Or is it okay to enjoy them despite everything?
There is so much more to books than the difficult things they deal with. There is the writing, the character development, the dialogue, the setting. If an author is good at what they do, all these things should form a beautiful whole, and that will inevitably bring joy to the reader. So, technically, enjoying a difficult book is just a sign that there’s a brilliant writer behind it … right?
I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time, so I’m curious to know what you guys have to say about it. Do you usually enjoy difficult books? Do you think enjoying them is a bit of a sick thing to do? Let me know!
‘Till next time and happy reading!