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March 24, 2010

Are You a Happy Hater?

Posted by webmaster
Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to interview all kinds of authors; first for a local Atlanta area radio show, and now for the Better World Books Podcast. Several of the authors, including Sarah Addison Allen (who I interviewed yesterday) have said they are committed to writing happy endings and are willing to take whatever criticism comes their way for that.

My question is what the heck is so wrong with being happy?

Mary Kay Andrews is another author who has told me directly that she wants to write fun books that people will enjoy. She’s not looking to uncover the deepest, darkest corners of the human psyche or unmask the evil that lives in the world. In fact, just the opposite. She and Sarah Addison Allen are both actively engaged in giving people something to smile about.

And here’s the thing. Their books sell. Loads of people like to feel good. Imagine that. But somehow we’ve marginalized these books and don’t necessarily give them their literary due. Book clubs don’t choose them and readers feel they have to defend their choices.

I for one have read many books that you might consider “lighter” that had plenty of depth. There were still relationships to discuss and plot points to consider. And the fact that I was able to read the book quickly and didn’t feel like curling up in the fetal position when I got finished was a just a bonus.

So, I’m here to stand up for happy books. And books where our heroine gets her man. And books where the bad guy is caught and world is saved. I say read them proudly. And not just on the beach. Don’t be afraid to recommend them for book club either. Your group might actually appreciate a break from all the gloom and doom.

-- Dana Barrett, Contributing Editor