Violence, Pain, Suffering -- Necessary in Meaningful Books?

Barbara's picture

Books speak the truth and truth can sometimes be awful, terrifying, violent. We, as readers, come to the "table" willingly to grow and learn in the painful truth of books. When does it get too much? That the author is creating violence, sex, and heart-break that has no meaning in the characterization, plot, and style of the work.

Have you found a work (maybe one that was read for your book club) that turned you off because of gratuitous scenes of meaningless pain and suffering? How about sex and swearing?

What are some books that have pain, suffering, sex that counters and supports the true meaning and theme of the book?

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Our book club read "The

Our book club read "The Gravedigger's Daughter" and many found the language to be too much for them to continue reading it. Sometimes the use of bad language is really what the character calls for to fully depict who her or she was or how he or she would really have spoken but sometimes it does seem to be that it doesn't really add anything to the book or character.

Interesting question - Lovely

Interesting question - Lovely Bones comes to mind first. I did finish the book and truthfully had a hard time putting it down. It was very difficult to read as the author made you feel like you were there and you felt everything the girl was experiencing. While it was hard to read, it set the stage for the rest of the book. We also read Gargoyle, which a few in our club couldn't read because of the graphic descriptions of the burns and his treatment. If the readers had only stayed with it. While the detailed descriptions were awful, it helped to really understand the character. Everyone in our club who read through to the end loved the book. It ended up being our most favorite book of the year. Rules of Attraction and Absurdistan are also up there on my list, but no matter how hard I tried I could never relate to the characters. Those two books were thrown across the room and I must confess were never retrieved.