An ode to happy stories

I don’t know what the numbers are, but there are 1000s of new books released every year. The ability to put pen to paper with focus and persistence is quite wonderful, particularly when all the pieces click. Books are the catalyst for conversations, bring joy, offer new viewpoints or fresh eyes on a situation and provide a needed escape to different worlds. And it is a human necessity. Take a look through history; fireside tales, mythology, art and music, these are present in every society going back as far as archaeologists have been able to piece together, and likely even farther back.

To have books, and the ability to read them, accessible to so many is one of the greatest benefits of modern education and technology. There are countries and segments of society still fighting for this access, and so they should. So we should. But sometimes education and literary recognition get hung up on the big stories; the ones that speak of pain beyond measure. Still other times stories are thrust on those not ready to hear them.

I recently had a conversation with a teacher friend and a bright, young girl about favourite books we read (or in her case – those she is reading) in high school. We had different likes and dislikes, but what we agreed on was that many are heavy and dull to an adolescent mind. With adult experiences comes the ability to cull knowledge or recognize wisdom from (some of) these books. If Shakespeare wasn’t written for a teenage audience, why are teenagers expected to appreciate his works? Although some teens love Shakespeare, things are best presented in their own time, and fourteen may not be the best time for Macbeth. I loathed Ayn Rand in high school and because of that have never wanted to pick up another existential anything. Maybe I would have appreciated her work had I been more mature.

Which brings me to the thought that sparked this diatribe…

I’d like to see more joyful books touted as ‘masterpieces’ and not just ones full of tragedy and heartache. When I read the book synopsis of the latest stellar debut novel and the story shimmers in sadness, all I want to do is give it a wide berth. Yes, there is sadness and tragedy in the world, and in everyday lives. Perhaps these stories carry a hint of possibility that circumstances can improve and we should grasp onto that, but sometimes our hearts are heavy enough, and what we need is a light or a laugh, or pure fantasy to soothe us.

That is what a masterful storyteller can do. The ability to uplift is a gift. To do so using only words to paint us into a place so beautiful and fantastic and hopeful that the reader is left joyful – that is creating a masterpiece.

More props to those authors please.

 Do you have a favourite feel good book?

Kat @ jackstrawlane

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