Situational And Emotional Representation In Books

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It seems as though I’ve read a lot of books recently that I’ve hit me in a lot of personal ways. Most of the time, I can pinpoint exactly what soft spot it hit and why I reacted the way I did. Other times, it seems so much more complex. This is something that has been rattling around in my brain for a few weeks now and I’ve been trying to figure out why I seem to react so strongly.

I have also seemed to struggle to really find what I want to read the most. Something like a reading slump, but not so much that I have disliked a lot of what I’ve read. Just, I’ve wanted to find something more than what I actually found.

I finally figured out at least a part of it. I’m a deeply emotional reader. I need to have emotional connections to the story and the characters, at least to some extent, for me to really enjoy it. Those are the stories I’ve been craving, but I haven’t quite been able to say I’m looking for this very specific kind of book because I wasn’t even certain what I’d been looking for. It has occurred to me that, at least on one front, I’m looking for emotional or situational representations that reflect on me and my life experiences. I want to see more pieces of my own reality in the books I read.

The problem with that is the times I’ve run across those, more times than not, I really end up disliking the book. These are the ones I’ve had the hardest time trying to really pinpoint the why. I’m beginning to think that a big part of that is the way I want to see those emotions and situations handled. I either want to see them handled in the way I did as some sort of validation of my experiences, or in a way that I see as better and with more positive results than what I experienced allowing that character to avoid some of my own personal chaos. Rarely do I get the one I need for that specific situation or emotion and end up disappointed with the story in front of me.

If a character does something that is counter to what I need in that situation emotionally, I find it taints how I feel about that character. That isn’t to say I’m looking for perfect characters, because perfect isn’t interesting at all. It is boring. I’m looking for human flaws, but I apparently need them flawed in just the right way, if that makes any sense at all.

I’m not certain if this is just a me thing or if others have similar feelings about this. I know I have a whole lot of peeves when it comes to books, but I wasn’t aware that some of these emotional situations and how they are handled was one of them. Everyone is going to bring personal experience and bias into a book they read, but I wasn’t aware of quite how much I drag along with me when I open a book.

I adore stories about families, but those also tend to be the ones that push my buttons hard. Issues like toxic relationships, mental abuse, rejection, forgiveness for those kinds of issues and family obligations all tend to be some really hot spots for me and I almost never react well to them even though those are the very things you tend to see most often in those types of books.

Do other people have these kinds of issues with what they read, maybe with other specific topics or am I just as weird as I think I am?

Sorry if this was a bit of a rambly mess. I think I’m still working through it all and I don’t think I’ve manged to dig it all out yet.

Author: TJ Fox

I am a slightly sane artist, amateur photographer, book addict, wife, mom and raging introvert. I have more hobbies than I can count, so it is beyond shocking that I manage to find time to do any of them, let alone most of them and still have time to do anything else. Of all the talents I claim, writing wasn’t one of them until my muse dropped the idea for a book on my head.

16 thoughts on “Situational And Emotional Representation In Books”

  1. I have found that my reactions to reading novels has altered as I’ve gotten older. The more situations you live through the more experience you bring to the table and more emotions and opinions as well. Events that might not have bothered me 15 years ago engender a different reaction now. So, no, you’re definitely not alone.😊 On the flipside, I find that I am frequently not as judgy as I might once have been.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, yeah! I just read a book by an author I used to love but quit reading a while ago for reasons, and found those reasons are still there, but magnified. Things I used to like (usually in romance) have changed drastically, especially in the last few years and probably one of the bigger reasons I tend to avoid most mainstream romance.

      I actually think I’m probably more judgmental in reading now than I ever used to be, which is really odd because I’ve pushed really hard to let go of a lot of some of those ingrained, knee-jerk reactions IRL.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I probably should qualify– my judgy depends on the circumstances.
        After having read your review, I am betting the author is Susan Wiggs?
        My biggest pet peeves with romances are unnecessary angst and weak female characters, oh, and authors who purposefully subjugate women for titillation. That sounds like a necessary blog post. Ha.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, it was Kristen Ashley. I wrote a post about her writing a long time ago, around the time I stopped reading her, but I am really tempted to write another one just because I understand so much more about why I am so bothered by her writing. All of which absolutely fits what you are talking about.

        I’m the same with the angst and weak female characters. Toss in the lack of opening their mouths and speaking just to create this communication barrier and I’m pretty much guaranteed to not like that book. That would be where the Susan Wiggs book went for me.

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      3. Pretty sure she is an indie author so I’m not entirely surprised you haven’t heard of her, but she does have a pretty huge and exceptionally loyal following. Just double checked… the book I just read has 10k ratings which is insane for an indie.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I can maybe see an erotica tag, but… honestly there are some really steamy scenes in each book that drops into graphic range (some books more than others), but I’m not certain I would consider the books erotica because those scenes don’t take up a massive percentage of page space. At least, not in comparison to something like 50 shades or a whole host of other books in that genre. I guess it really comes down to where you draw the line and what you would classify it as. I honestly never really put a lot of thought into it before with her books, but I guess I can see how her books might get the tag.

        Liked by 1 person

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