Novels for the not weak-of-heart

December 17, 2010

Books have always offered a way to escape. In more recent times, while they may have had to yield to movies, TV and video games, nothing quite matches the growth in imagination, the building of vocabulary and general peace that comes with a consuming novel.

Just another precious gift that most youngsters today will never receive.

However, as I get older and the world becomes a little scarier, when I run for a bookstore, I find myself gravitating more and more to cookbooks, health magazines and travel guides. Three hobbies I adore. And yet, just once, I wish I could come across a book without teenage vampires, five obscenities on every page, descriptive intimacies and violence.

Books are supposed to be about escape. About fantasy. Who wants to fantasize about sadistic terrorists and unthinkable rape crimes? Unless you are in fact a sadistic terrorist. In which case, you got bigger problems buddy.

Both of the aforementioned books are currently found on the bestsellers lists, might I add.

Truth be told, these types of books have always been on the shelves. Although maybe not as blatantly explicit: Invisible Man, The Great Gatsby, The Fountainhead, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Jane Eyre. All depictions of real life for colored people, privileged debutantes, social outcasts and orphans.

Fact is, humans have always enjoyed learning about life on the “other side of the tracks,” strolling in someone else’s shoes.

I guess things haven’t changed so very much over the decades. What has changed is our idea of reality. We’ve moved from reading about the abuse of the poor and under-priveleged to unflinchingly evaluating a 2-day-old bloodied body and then reliving the murder through the killer’s mind.

The human psyche is continuing to disintegrate into an oblivion of blood, sex and anger. And we have the books to prove it.


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