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 what they want and all problems and challenges are resolved. You just know life goes on for the characters in a happy and uncomplicated way after the last page is turned. I know that it’s fantasy; I don’t care. I like the way I feel when everything turns out all right.
I read a myriad of books, both fiction and non-fiction. I enjoy the latter – learning new things is cool; did you know that a pineapple is kind of a berry? – but when I’m down in the dumps, I want the former. I want the warm fuzzies you get when everything works out in a fictional world. I don’t need real life in my escapism, thank you very much.
The popular fiction books I read vary, from one-hour series romances to three-hour plus tomes but they tend to have satisfying resolutions in common. I read others, but those are mostly “should” books that Oprah recommends or that are doing the rounds in popular culture.
I like a bit of a love story. I don’t even mind if it’s the main plot line. Love stories make me happy. They’re a tasty distraction from a real life that is dark and hard at times. Even the books that aren’t happiness and light, like murder mysteries or horror, have love connections that generate a sense of optimism I often can’t find in my own life.
I keep most of the books I read. I like libraries but ownership of the stories I love seems important to me. I no longer let them go; books are not on the list when I’m Marie Kondo-ing my house. I like to revisit them, some a multiplicity of times. I often don’t reread the whole thing, just the last couple of chapters leading to the happy dénouement. I like revisiting happy times and places.
I used to be embarrassed by the number of books I have around the house, but with e-books came the solution. No one knows the little tablet you’re toting has more than eight-hundred books stored inside. Technology is an amazing thing, really, although you don’t technically own e-books. Rather, you have lifetime access to the book, until you die or the company goes under. Fingers crossed for Kindle.
I went through a time in my life where the only books I’d read were dark and ugly. Things would end badly. True stories or fiction, the books hurt. I thought they’d be an outlet for the darkness inside but reading them made things worse. Turns out, I need the light. Wallowing in the pit with other sad and damaged people, even if they’re fictional, is not helpful.
When things in my life are really dire, mentally and emotionally, I turn to the two rows of shelves with the oldest of the books – meaning the ones I’ve had the longest. I do have some technically older books, including an enormously cool dictionary I bought at a garage sale, but the shelves I’m focused on host the children’s books.
For me, there’s nothing better than rereading the stories I loved from way back when. They too end in happily ever afters – that preference was apparently formed in the womb. I like fantasy series’ like The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper or the Time Quintet (including A Wrinkle in Time) by Madeleine L’Engle. I like stories featuring strong young women like the Anne books by L. M. Montgomery or Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books.
Reading books I’ve already read is meditative. I sink into them and drift away from the world. I’m no longer myself, I’m in the books, unaware of things around and inside me. I’ve always read this way; the book takes over and I soon notice nothing else at all. That can be a good thing. Everyone needs an escape, sometimes.
I used to be ashamed of my tastes. I’d hide the books I loved and collected; I worried people would look down on me for my fiction choices. This is the advantage of both recovery and age. I’ve been practicing not worrying about what other people think. I’ve spent a lifetime beating myself up and believing others would do so if they had the opportunity. I’ve spent a lifetime believing I wasn’t enough and the things I did were always wrong. I’m tired of it. I get to make the choices in my life based on my wants and needs.
I like books with happily ever after. Sue me. There’s enough dark and ugly in the world. I don’t need to seek it out when I’m trying to practice selfcare.
What do you use to escape from the world for a while?