Imaginative Discussions: Bookish Perception

Posted April 22, 2015 by Lyn Kaye in Imaginative Discussions, Lyn / 13 Comments



This week, I finished Courtney Summer’s new book, All the Rage, on Friday. It was to the last 15% of the Kindle book, so I found any excuse to finish it by the end of the day: Lunch, breaks, more breaks, anything. I used it all to polish off the last of the book.

I was in tears by the end of the day, for reasons. The book was killer. I walked out of work with red, splotchy eyes and a runny nose.

The person I carpool with, someone I adore very much and love (I mean, she is family!), looked at me and knew I’d been crying. I told her I had a headache from trying to not cry (or, cry harder), and then launched into the book, the subject of the book (rape) and how it impacts our society.  She looked me right in the face and asked me, “Why do you read those books? Do you think it makes you a better reader?”

There’s gonna be a fight…

This took me by complete surprise, and I was left a bit speechless.  She honestly did not mean for it to come out as an insult or an accusation. She wanted to know why even bother reading a book that causes you pain or grief. Why bother with the gritty, darker fiction when it is escapism? If a book is going to make you cry, and rage against society, then why open it? Why even try?

I’ve turned this topic over in my head and looked at every angle of the reasons. Sure, I don’t have to defend my reading choice, but I also want to present the reasons for reading the less sugary, feel good books to someone who honestly does not understand the attraction to the grittier side of YA.

Sure, there are various reasons…


…such as: you’re tired of the rainbows and sunshine, it is a topic that is interesting, you love the author, you love the setting, you like the names, the cover was awesome, and so on. If I had to stand by one of my reasons, shuffle through all of the bullet points and hold one up proudly, it is this: Victims rarely get a voice in real life.

They’re fighting back through fiction. Topics that are too delicate or uncomfortable for public discussion become censored because “polite society” doesn’t want to acknowledge that we have some serious issues.  In return, blame becomes the burden of the target, the person who lost the most in the situation, the victim of the crime and the persecution. Their stories are fascinating and make for some wonderful stories. However, it isn’t entertainment I am after. It is social justice. It is making a stand for their silenced voices.


I do it for the people who are facing down the world, the people that are fighting for fairness and balance.  I do it because it is RIGHT.



Do you read books that have some tough topics? Are the books still enjoyable? What is your response to the question posed by someone on the outside of the reading world?

13 responses to “Imaginative Discussions: Bookish Perception

  1. I love this! “Victims rarely get a voice in real life.” Too true. The victims that aren’t heard when they’re screaming for help may be heard when books like All the Rage selling in book stores and being discussed on NPR and in the NY Times. Great post!
    Amanda recently posted…Review: Silver BayMy Profile

  2. I typically avoid books that I know will make me sad, as it is easy for me to cry and hard for me to stop. That said, when I know a book deals with that sort of stuff, I will promote the hell out of it, in hopes of other readers reading it.
    Isabel recently posted…Alienated by Melissa LandersMy Profile

  3. In my opinion, I feel like I NEED these books. Whether or not they make me sick is not the point. Rather, if I didn’t have this, I would be just as ignorant as the next person and that is NOT who I want to be. In my mind, you never TRULY understand something unless you’ve gone through it yourself but being in a character’s head while they experience it/aftermath is as close as I will get and I’m pretty freaking grateful for that experience.

    [Someone today said “I don’t get why rape victims don’t just call the police” and I was like, “someone needs to read All The Rage” because it isn’t that easy and he doesn’t get it.]
    Nova @ Out of Time recently posted…Mandatory Rules On: Creating the Perfect Bad BoyMy Profile

  4. Great post! I had a similar experience when I read The Fault in Our Stars (except I was listening to the audiobook at home while I had a migraine, so I went through the entire thing in ONE sitting — when I went into work the next morning I was so raw emotionally that I wanted to simultaneously cry and laugh at everything). I think books that deal with real/dark issues are powerful in so many ways, but one of the most meaningful takeaways for me is that, even when I’m having a bad day, things can always get worse. So even while they end up making me really sad, they also are incredibly humbling, and I feel like a better person for having opened my eyes to other ways my life could have gone.
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  5. “Victims rarely get a voice in real life” <–Agree so much that this a big reason why I read these types of books. It makes me cheer for them so hard and if there's a happy ending, it makes me feel good knowing that it can happen for others too. I'm a huge fan of the gritty books, the ones that make me question life and reality and humanity. The ones that show everything, even the darkest moments. Because it's REAL. And it happens. And I think books are a wonderful way of showing that and I guess, making people more aware of things they want to ignore?

    I know books are not real. The characters are fictional. But that doesn't mean they don't have an impact. Books have a lot of power, and I think it's absolutely amazing when one of them can impact someone in the most profound way.

    Fantastic discussion, Lyn! Loved this post, and gah, I NEED to read All the Rage!
    Holly J recently posted…(28) Top Ten All-Time Favorite AuthorsMy Profile

    • Even if the characters are not real, the problems are real. I always think that maybe, somewhere out there, a person who is struggling with this issue will read these words and find some courage.

      Yes, do read this book! So heartbreaking and yet, I love how this could read as a true story.
      Lyn Kaye recently posted…Forgotten Fridays: Eyes Like StarsMy Profile

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