I’m a sucker for a book with a happy ending. I prefer it when things work out the way they’re supposed to, and by “supposed to,” I mean the main character gets their heart’s desire, and any and all problems are tidily resolved. Perfect happiness and a perfect life that lasts forever after the last page is turned.
I know it’s not reality: I don’t care. I like the way I feel when everything turns out all right for the imaginary people I’m invested in.
I read books all the time, both fiction and non. I enjoy the latter well enough: learning new things is a thrill – pineapples are berries – but when I’m down, I want to escape. I want the warm fuzzies you don’t get when reading about generals and war. I don’t need real-world endings in my escapism, thank you very much.
And they lived happily ever after until Sabrina found out Steve had lied about the state of his finances and Steve found out Sabrina spent two hours every day on a “maintenance” beauty routine that cost four-hundred dollars every month which is when the daily bickering started.
The books I read range from one-hour series romances to multi-hour, complicated efforts but they all have satisfying resolutions in common. I read other works of fiction but generally prefer my choices over the “should” books that are doing the rounds.
I like romance. I don’t even mind if it’s the main plotline. Love stories make me happy. The romance genre gets zero respect despite amazingly skilled writers, a function of sexism I’m not getting into right now. Even the mysteries and horror stories I choose have love connections and relationship subplots. I want people and relationship stories, even amidst zombie carnage.
I keep many of the books I read. I like libraries but owning the stories I love feels vital to me; books are not on the list when I Marie Kondo my house. I like to revisit them, some a multiplicity of times. They’re old friends. I don’t need to reread the whole thing, just the chapters leading to the happy dénouement.
I used to be embarrassed by the number of books I have around the house, but e-books brought the solution. No one knows the little tablet you’re toting has hundreds of books stored inside. Technology is terrific, although you don’t technically own the e-books. Instead, you have lifetime access until you die or the company becomes insolvent. Fingers crossed for Kindle.
There was a time in my life when the only books I’d read were dark and ugly. Truth or fiction, the books hurt; they were about misery, dysfunction, and pain. I thought they’d be an outlet for the darkness inside but reading them made things worse. As it turns out, counterbalancing with light is a better choice. Wallowing in the pit, even a fictional one, isn’t helpful.
When things in my life seem especially dire, I turn to the shelves with the oldest of books – meaning the ones I’ve had the longest. I have some that are technically older, including an enormous dictionary I bought at a garage sale, but the shelves I focus on when I’m in distress are those that hold the children’s books.
There’s no better therapeutic escape than rereading the stories I loved as a child. I have multiple shelves dedicated to kids’ books only. Fairy tales mix with fantasies like Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising. Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet shares space with L.M Montgomery’s Anne and Laura Ingalls. All of it makes me happy.
I find rereading meditative. I sink into the words and drift away from the world. I’m in the book, no longer myself, unaware of things around and inside. I’ve always read this way; the book takes over, and I vanish..
I used to be ashamed of my tastes. They seemed simple, wrong like so many of the things I do. I’d hide the books I loved; I worried people would look down on my choices. That’s one advantage of recovery and age. You start to worry less about what other people think. At least, that’s the plan.
I like books with a happy ever after. Sue me. There’s dark and dire in the world already. I don’t need it in my escapes.
What do you use to escape from the world for a while?
Updated January 11, 2021.