Dark and Tragic – What do your books say about you?

A friend of mine, going through a divorce, asked me several weeks ago if I could recommend a fun book for her to read, something to lighten her mood. I devour a book every two weeks on average, so this should have been a no brainer.  It wasn’t. I realized, I could not think of a single story I had read recently, that was light or fun. The last time I picked up some happy-go-lucky reads, they were part of the Twilight series, and that was only because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

Here’s a short list of books I’ve read recently that I absolutely loved:

The Year of Magical Thinking – The memoir of an accomplished writer who loses her beloved husband after he suffers a heart attack. 

Blue Nights – Joan Didion recounts her struggle to survive after her only child, aged 39, dies from pneumonia.

Lucky Author Alice Sebold recalls her brutal rape and the perilous path she follows to recovery.

Play it As It Lays – A novel about Maria Wyleth. A beautiful Los Angeles model and actress suffers a nervous breakdown after a botched abortion, and is placed in an exclusive neuropsychiatric institute.

The Virgin Suicides – This novel follows a Detroit community’s reaction when five teenage sisters in the neighborhood commit suicide.


One has to wonder, what does this say about my state of mind? I’ve long believed in the old adage, “Show me your friend’s and I’ll tell you who you are.” Does this apply to the books we are reading? If you are all over Fifty Shades of Gray, does this mean you’re ready for some hot lovin’?  Are those paging through Hemingway and Thoreau breathing on a higher plane than the rest of us?

I don’t even know that the type of books I’ve been enjoying have a specific genre. I guess you could call them mourning books – stories that chronicle the aftermath of tragedies. Not exactly uplifting material.

Now that I am aware of the situation, I’m switching things up. Just last week, I read a funny Nora Ephron novel. Next up? I borrowed a friend’s book, Shantaram – an exotic novel that takes place in Bombay, and illustrates love’s power to transform. I don’t know what those other books were saying about my mood, however I do know this – I’m feeling a bit lighter now that I’m spending time with some not-so-tragic tales. 

What about you?  What books have read lately and what do the stories you are reading say about your state of mind?

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7 Responses to Dark and Tragic – What do your books say about you?

  1. jenny says:

    love the way your mind works, mrs. dark and tragic!

  2. Shelly T says:

    Such an interesting post!

    I find I have to change up genres every couple of books. If I’m reading an intensly written and quite large book such as “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese, then I need to move on to a light hearted piece of chick lit like “How to Eat a Cupcake” by Meg Donohue.

    As I look through my Nook library, I find authors like Charlotte Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thich Nhat Hanh, John Green (The Fault in our Stars is great!), Liane Moriarty (Australian author), Jennifer Weiner and Jessica Therrien (a great author to work with!). Talk about covering the genres! And that doesn’t even cover the authors like Holly Kammier (fantastic memoir and another great author to work with) and others who aren’t on my Nook.

    The only book “rule” I have is that my personal reading be a different genre from what I am editing at the time. It’s the way I make sure authors get 100% of me.

    For me, the “all over the place” reality of the books I read is very similar to my own personality. I can be lighthearted and funny, I can be intellectual and business like, I can day dream in a fantasy world, or I can stare reality straight in the face and share in someone’s personal story.

  3. hollyyoumans says:

    Shelly I love your book list! It is wonderful to switch up your genres and visit new places!!

  4. Holly- I just left a comment logged in with WordPress. It sends my comment to spam everytime, so please check there if it doesn’t post here.

  5. hollyyoumans says:

    Thanks for letting me know Brinda! I’ll figure out how to check my spam….makes me wonder what else is in there that has been filtered out. Sorry it gave you trouble.

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