You know I hate trigger warnings in books.

Hate them.

However…

I recently read a book- “The Discomfort of Evening.”Read it for book club- won the international Booker…blah blah blah…

First off- I hated it.

Secondly- I hated it.

Thirdly- it had so many topics that could be trigger warnings even I cringed as I read the pages. I wanted to cover my eyes, which I realize defeats the purpose of reading and all, but that’s how crazed I got by the content.

Now I say all this, and I still don’t think that books should have trigger warnings.

But…

Should books that abound with questionable topics be eligible for prizes and awards?

Here’s my thought process on this: If books with questionable subject matter keep getting nominated and winning, does that mean that feel good books no longer have a place in the higher literary echelon? How much boundary pushing do we really need to do? Will the only books deemed worthy be so depressing that the average person no longer reads them?

Can we maybe have a people’s choice award for books?

Can I give my personal stamp of approval onto what books are good?

When we give awards…what exactly are we rewarding?

Note: I am presently not around reliable wifi. I will answer comments when I am able!!

82 thoughts on “No Triggers….Except…

  1. UGH..it’s like art. Some of it I love, some of it I hate, some of it is literally trash..like the (actual) mattress on display in the Washington DC art museum with pee on it.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. As my artist sister told me after I mentioned the mattress and my suspicion that there was a hidden camera somewhere with people laughing at museum goers.. “if you are talking about provocative art, it has achieved its goal..” HUH? I talk about trash too as in “look honey, the garbage men didn’t take the mattress with the pee on it!”

        Liked by 3 people

      1. I just did an experiment on my own blog. I hate conceptual art and never do it. So I tried and weirdly enough got likes. There was no thought into the process. I took a photo of the last bite of chicken on my dinner plate called it that but then added a line about why is there starvation still in America. And no one who liked it questioned it. I won’t post like that again despite however many likes it gets, cause honestly i just don’t get it. LOL

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I blog for me, if people dig things cool. I can’t ponder too hard on why people like what they like. Although just checking now I got one comment who said the art was in the title of the piece. Again no agenda, no thought process just words. Reminds me of the time I had a portrait of an unhappy pig in a gallery (the pig represented me) two people admired my work but their analysis of the artist must be vegetarian speaking out against slaughterhouses was far far from the truth of what it represented.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. HAHA!! My goodness.. what an interesting time we live in. It’s good to remind ourselves of why we do anything..including blogging. I started my blog years ago because I wanted my four grown kids to be able to tap into mom when they felt like it to see what I was thinking about ‘life n stuff.’ It was a way to share without preaching or intruding on their busy day..”mom on demand” so to speak..😂 Anything that flows from that original goal is just an added bonus.👍

        Liked by 3 people

  2. The Goodreads awards qualify as a People’s Choice award, and the winners there are pretty crap, too.

    Totally agree with you on a lot of award committees picking out the deep, dark stuff because “oh, boundary pushing deep psychological blah blah blah”, like that’s the only thing that makes a book good. Why don’t I read much literary fiction? Because there is plenty of awfulness in the world, and I don’t need it all following me into my favorite hobby.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I LOVE, capital L O V E the Little House On the Prairie series that the “library ex-purts” decided a couple of years ago, no longer fit the politically correct, woke value system. I don’t care anymore. I really don’t care what the “ex-purts ” say is important. Their opinions are worth as much as a roll of used toilet paper.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I was intrigued by this post, LA, and I googled a summary of this book.

    It is dark and disturbing for sure.
    I agree with Kim, the previous commentator.
    Reading is my favourite hobby and I stay away from ‘dark’ topics. 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  5. No offense to your book club but I would have stopped at the title. I read to escape reality, to be immersed in a good story, and the desire to be entertained. As a general rule, I avoid “award” winning books because the “presenters” all appear to have an agenda, a rubber stamp that the book has been deemed fit for society, even in the category YA dystopia awards have an angle. I choose my reading material based on reviews and synopsis thus your “people’s choice awards,” trigger warnings have never been a problem for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What an interesting blog topic. I immediately googled the book you mentioned so I could get a sense of understanding what kind of book would make you hate it. In reading various summaries, they all kept saying… dark… dark… dark. Based on that, I too would not chose to read such a book. I am aware that in a book club we are often forced to read novels that are out of our comfort zone. Sometimes I wind up liking them, other times it’s torturous to get through each page. But, I’m discovering recently that with the plethora of books out there that maybe it’s time to get back to basics. By that I mean, why do we read in the first place. ..Why exactly do each of us read? We read for enjoyment. We read to escape. We read to learn new things etc. why don’t we read? we DON’T read to cringe, to spend time perusing topics we are not interested in, or to become depressed. It sounds like this book was in the don’t category.
    During this pandemic and undergoing cancer treatment I had to censor what I read, what tv shows and movies I watched because staying positive was imperative to get the best treatment results. So clearly I would not have read this book. That being said, If it were a book club choice I’d have given it a try.

    In answer to why books like this win awards? I have no idea. I think we’ve gotten off the track in giving literary awards. I thought about that.
    I judge spoken word poetry. Even during the pandemic, high school students still competed via zoom, judges listened, scored, and winners were selected. But what I noticed was something you triggered with these dark stories winning awards. Spoken word Poems tell stories too. And the spoken word poetry which verbalizes emotional struggles beyond the usual teenage angst, such as molestation, rape, racism, gender bias always gets higher scores. Is it because those pieces touch our hearts more? Is it because usually the poets’ delivery of the poem tends to be more emotional and more heartfelt? The winners do tend to write the most provocative poems.

    Being a teacher, when I judge, I listen for great vocabulary, excellent figurative language, content, and emotion in the delivery. And dark or intense poems tend to hit all those marks. I never thought about it before. But, perhaps the reason these dark books win awards is that they check off ALL the boxes. Kind of like movies. Winners usually aren’t the films you want to watch over and over again. Maybe the intense content just ticks off more boxes when numbers are tallied. It may be simple math that wins.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I admit the language was beautiful. But the subject matter was so dark and depressing…I like being in book clubs because I love discussing books and literature…but my whole book club found this to be just so impossible. We all read it, but we couldn’t understand why anyone needs to read it

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  7. I was not aware of the book but just glanced at the goodreads reviews and many are not good. Not for me, even for book club. I hate when books like that win awards. The best marketing is word of mouth – as in “Hey I just read this really good book…”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The award aspect is really nothing I look at. I read the synopsis. I may, or most likely not, read a few reviews if I’m questioning is the book for me. If I find I don’t like the book then back it goes to the library. No harm done and perhaps the next person will find something in it that I didn’t. **This is the biggest reason why I borrow 95% of the books I read. So much easier just to try a book, say no thanks if necessary and return it. Books aren’t cheap and I typically never read them twice unless they have sociological/feminist undertones. Even at that, I buy used.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I belong to a few different book clubs and enjoy reading what others suggest…usually…this book is so dark and depressing I had to talk about it…I just wonder who exactly chooses award winning books and why…is it just some club to see who can write the most depressing things ever?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I googled the book. I would have no desire to read it. Was there any hint before you read that it would be that dark?
    I’m not really for trigger warnings–but there have been a few books where I’d wish I had enough of a content warning that a particular book really wasn’t for me.
    I sometimes suspicious of award winning books–especially when it comes to kids’ books.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I never actively pick a book based on award status, but I do check the winners of the big prizes. This was recommended to a book club member by her friend. I’d like to question the friend…😆

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It used to be if I picked up a book – any book – I would slog on until the bitter end. Not any more. Some books are just plain rubbish! This is a great question and one I have often asked myself while trying to slog through an “award winning” book. I think right now, more than ever, we need feel good books. Books with happy endings. Life is hard enough without punishing ourselves with books that have trigger warnings. Hard “no” to them.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have been heavily into spiritual writings this past year and it has helped me through a lot of bat guano (ask Cindy). LOL

        I’ve always loved happy endings. Life can suck at times. I really disliked how George R.R. Martin killed off some of my fav characters in his Game of Thrones series. He was brutal. To each their own, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I also looked up this book to read a synopsis. The phrase that stopped me was “violent beauty.” No, I don’t think I’ll read it. I do remember reading the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante and mentioning to a friend how much I enjoyed them. She was so appalled and asked how I could read something so violent and dark. I honestly didn’t see it that way, but as a historical perspective and story about friendship. I do think in the literary world they like edgy. The edgier the better. Also, most editors at agencies and publishers are very young.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I like edgy novels. I don’t know that most editors at agencies and publishers are all young, maybe the one that published this book. I have been enjoying books by John Lutz who writes mysteries, some with a dark side and family issues. They get me through rough periods and he is a good writer. I hope not all editors are young. I am going to trust they vary in age, culture, gender, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I just read this about Mr. Lutz. He also resided part time in Florida. “Violence was common in some of his books about serial killers, as was an understanding of the weary determination of detectives and police officers”. and used Florida in many of his settings. Perhaps all of these are reasons why I enjoy his books.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have similar issues with Award Winners – they always seem to be controversial or edgy. Still getting over Shuggie Bain which is classed as Trauma Lit. Sorry, I don’t get paid to be part of someone’s Therapy Session. Are you listening Harry Windsor? I’ll be avoiding Discomfort like the plague…..

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Perhaps the People’s Choice Awards are in the sales of said books. For someone to like it enough to want to keep a copy might indicate how much they enjoyed it. Books, like art, sometimes need to push us outside our comfort zone. But, as with art, if you don’t like it, don’t look at it. Don’t buy it. If you don’t like a book, stop reading it or try and realize what it is about the book you don’t like and address it within yourself. I’ve read many books where things are happening in the book that make me uncomfortable; was it necessary to further the plot line or character development? That might make a difference. I put little to no credence in critic awards. If it sounds interesting, I’ll read it. If not, I pass. Book Clubs have different rules. Can’t help you there. X

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s funny, because the person who suggested this book is about as far removed from the person you would think would recommend it. I admit most of my pleasure reading is lighter in scope

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Think how many classics would not make the award lists today! Those classics might not be politically correct, perhaps they don’t challenge current thinking, do they make you think rather than drag you into a hole, they are probably well written and contain beautiful language, etc. Honestly, I think money is behind so much of what is pushed on us through the book clubs, publishers, and large book sellers. I like to read a variety of books–some are serious, some are humorous. I read religious and secular. I read fiction and nonfiction. I read cozy mysteries to keep my brain awake and give me an escape at the same time. Although I understand the attraction of certain genres that I don’t read, I do avoid thrillers and horror stories. As in finding a medical professional, it is good to get a recommendation from someone you trust.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m doing an unscientific survey. I’m trying to note how I heard about a book, and I’m rating them monthly. In December I’m going to figure out where I get most of my fave reads from

      Like

  18. Fascinating. I don’t pay much attention to books, art, etc, that have won awards. I’m genuinely interested in reading, watching, seeing, and listening to art that moves and inspires me. Period. Further, I often disagree with the books, etc., that receive these types of awards. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine once. We were talking about movies that continued to win awards for best picture, actor, etc., and how much we disagreed with many of the winners…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look at movie awards…I admit I do often agree with winner. Though I didn’t love Nomadland as much as everyone else and I hated shape of water

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Goodreads has an award for reader’s choice every year based on different genres that Goodreads members can vote on. I think you tend to see awards going to “edgier” kinds of works over the feel good ones in all kinds of areas, not just books, but it is definitely an issue in the book industry. It is one of the reasons why I have often shied away from “award winning” books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we need to find an award that doesn’t have anything to do with Amazon…I can’t help but wonder how much influence they have over good reads

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, I have a lovely rant brewing in my head right now about Goodreads and Amazon that I’ve been debating posting. Sadly, it wouldn’t be my first.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Interesting topic. I can’t read anything too dark or disturbing. I just stopped reading a book because I found the author’s recounting of her mother’s madness too upsetting. Too bad because it was beautiful written, but not something I need to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Same feelings. Book club read. I got through 40% then decided to drop it. I hated the depression and the sick feelings it evoked. I think only the dystopian/dysfunctional/ disturbing/ not easily understood books get awards. Maybe it’s a case of the Emperor’s new clothes?!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. LA,
    So glad you brought this up! I feel the exact same way about books, movies, TV shows, etc. Also, I think it’s marvelous that you were triggered by a book about triggers! Ha! I love irony even if I don’t like the book or movie or whatever! Mona

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I went to read about it and gah.

    When I’m reading a book, I’m attempting to escape from my problems rather than confront them. I prefer my books to provoke thought rather than to make my anxiety worse. I feel like I might have nightmares tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I usually skim or leave the room when anxiety provoking content appears in shows, movies, and books. It stays with me for far too long and getting those images out of my head once I am exposed is impossible. I remember reading a story in Readers Digest (which we kept in the bathroom) when I was a kid about the torture our service people endured during the Vietnam War. It changed the way I think about people and the depth in which we can sink into darkness. No thank you. I’m staying with the light and I mean that metaphorically of course, C

    Liked by 1 person

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