I used to hate reading sad books. Anything that dealt with unpleasant subject matters, I avoided like the plague. (I especially would have avoided books about the plague.) But as I grew up, I found that I can enjoy reading as a cathartic experience, as well as a joyful one. Taking a journey of redemption with a character can sometimes be even more fulfilling than joining a protagonist on a fun and frills adventure. Life is not all smiles and sunshine. One can either embrace reading as an escape and feel that if life is unpleasant, reading doesn't have to be; or take the option that if there is ugliness in life, than the world of literature should occasionally reflect that too. For those that are willing to walk a difficult road with a fictional character, Teri Coyne's The Last Bridge is a great one to check out.
Occasionally, I find if I read too many books on depressing subjects in a row it really dampens my mood, but I also appreciate a variety of reading topics and like to mix in some more intense subjects with lighter fare. So of course, this leads to the question, do you read sad books? Do you enjoy catharsis as a part of reading or do you tend to stick with pleasant subjects?
I'm always a bit hesitant to read stories that deal with themes of alcoholism, broken homes or child abuse, but Teri Coyne weaves a powerful and engrossing story in The Last Bridge. The subject matter was difficult to face but the story is not without a ray of light. Coyne shows that choices are ultimately the definition of character and Cat's journey is one that will stay with the reader even after the book is read.