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Wednesday, February 18, 2009 10:37 am
A Book List for Readers Who Are Serious about Not Being Depressed
Posted by: Keir Graff

An update from Marianne Goss, who reports that there are now more than 100 novels listed on her site, Positively Good Reads, “An upbeat reading list for people who often find serious novels depressing.” Some readers may remember my original post, “How about a downbeat reading list for people who find comic novels amusing?” in which I confessed that I prefer to wallow in misery instead of being uplifted.

Goss provides some support for her endeavor by providing links to a discussion group on Amazon and a blog post on LibraryThing, but says it most convincingly in her own words:

I’m not looking for books with artificial happy endings or without conflict and sorrow. Sometimes I regret that I used the term “happy ending” on my home page — people tend to glom on to that, perhaps misunderstanding what kind of books are listed on the site. A quote that I found from from Fay Weldon puts it this way: ”By a happy ending I do not mean mere fortunate events — a marriage or a last-minute rescue from death — but some kind of spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation.”

The good news for me is that my search has led me to books that meet my criteria — more than 100 novels are listed and described on my site so far (i.e., I’ve read them over the past few years). The site was created simply as a service — once I started to identify and read the books, I realized my findings might help others. In retrospect, I’m wondering whether I could have spread the word more easily if I’d sounded less opinionated about how depressing literary fiction generally is. I might have just said: Here’s a site with book suggestions for people who are looking for a novel that’s worth their time but not somber. Judging from what I’ve seen online recently, I think there is an audience.

A quick look at her list reveals a thoughtfully selected list of works that are far from lightweight and still manage to treat serious subjects sensitively. Thanks for keeping in touch, Marianne–and now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read Trainspotting.

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