Reading to compensate for loneliness

When I reviewed both Supernova and Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge earlier this year, I pointed out part of the problem is that I’m a little old for either New Adult or Teen Romance stories. And that there’s never been a time I liked coming-of-age stories, which is what New Adult is. But thinking about it some more, I think it’s more complicated.

There have been lots of times in my life where I’ve felt emotionally cut off from people. And those were the periods I did like that sort of thing, a lot. Stories of people making new friends, new lovers, finding their place in the world — those automatically had a pull for me when I felt as if I didn’t have any of those things (my feelings at the time, I realize in hindsight, may not have accurately represented the shape of my life). In particularly rough times, when I was convinced my life would never get better, reading (or TV, or movies) gave me somewhere where I could see people win out over loneliness, find their place, sometimes while defeating alien invaders or terrorists at the same time (in hindsight I also realize that I wasn’t unique as a twentysomething in feeling self-doubt, but at the time I was convinced I was pretty much sui generis). Sometimes they gave me hope I could do the same. If not, they gave me fictional people I could feel connected too.

And I think that’s a part of it too. Now that I’m married to TYG, I’m not haunted by the same doubts. I don’t need to rely on books for emotional support (I’d actually given up on that well before I met her). And that probably matters as much, or more, as the age difference. Not that I don’t enjoy romantic character arcs or rom-coms, but I don’t depend on them. So to get me invested in the story takes a lot more on the writer’s part.

I don’t think that says anything about the merits of the books themselves, but it is another example of why, as they say, we can’t step into the same river, or book, twice.

Cover design by Timothy O’Donnell, all rights to image remain with current holder. #SFWApro

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