Thursday, September 10, 2015

Discussion: Are There Subjects That You Can't Read About?

Are There Subjects That You Can’t Read About?

One of my favorite young adult authors is Ellen Hopkins. I love her writing style. I love the difficult topics she tackles in her novels. Her books are some of my all-time YA favorites. But, she has this book called Crank, and . . . I can’t read it. A lot of people have told me that Crank is Ellen Hopkins’s best book, but I can’t do it. The synopsis alone makes me feel like I’m going to throw up.

Crank tells the story of a teenage girl who becomes addicted to meth. That’s all I know about it. I’ve never bothered to find out more because drug addiction is a topic that I can’t read about. Casual drug use in books has never bothered me, but once the drug use becomes an addiction, I completely lose interest in the book. I just don’t want to read it anymore.

Does anyone else have a subject that you can’t read about?

I’ve never been a drug addict myself, but I have known quite a few of them. Heroin and meth addictions were very common at my high school. A lot of my friends became addicts. For me, stories about addiction feel way too realistic. Reading them makes me stressed out, sick, and really, really angry. It’s weird. Reading about addiction kills the sense of escapism that I get from books. I don’t want to read something if I’m not getting any enjoyment out of it.

Even though I don’t like addiction books, a sadistic part of my brain wonders what would happen if I read Crank. If I forced myself to read it, would I get over my dislike of the subject?

Another part of my brain wonders how big of a deal it is to dislike certain subjects. There are millions of books out there about topics that interest me. I have plenty of reading material to keep me happy. I’m probably not missing much by avoiding books about topics I don’t like.

What do you think? What do you do about the subjects you dislike? Do you avoid books about those subjects? Have you ever attempted to get over your dislike? How did it work for you?

I’m linking back to Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight. They host the 2015 Discussion Challenge.


  1. I don't think it is a big deal to avoid subjects. I avoid holiday books and books with religious backgrounds like the plague. I think you can certainly skip a few subjects if reading about them isn't fun. Don't we read books for fun?

  2. I don't have any subjects I skip but certainly understand why people do. You need to read what you enjoy. I mean there is pushing what you read and being more open to genres and stuff but if something is a trigger or just makes you uncomfortable it makes sense to skip it.

  3. I will read almost anything, but there are a few exceptions. No serial killers & fantasy. With fantasy, my mind has a hard time picturing strange creatures and made up lands. I just can not get into that genre. Happy Reading Everyone!

  4. Typically, anything that's too realistic I can't deal. I read to get away from real life and would rather any contemporary stuff have ridiculousness in it or just be purely magical/fantasy.

  5. I can't deal with extreme gore, so that rules out most things with serial killers in, because they tend to go into a lot of detail. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, for example was a really good book, but the descriptions of some of the murders literally made me feel queasy.

  6. I don't know if there are any subjects that I completely avoid, but I definitely would if I had those reactions. There are many novels that I haven't liked for similar reasons to your dislike of addictions. I read a book for fun, so if I can't enjoy the story and the characters then I don't want to read it at all. I don't see anything wrong with that.

  7. I can't handle reading books with animal abuse or sexual abuse of children. I just can't. I get such a sick feeling in my stomach that last long after I finish the book. It just makes me shudder to think about it.
    I don't blame you for avoiding books with a topic that you can't handle. Why put yourself through so much discomfort when there are so many other books you will enjoy.

  8. I don't really enjoy reading super realistic books at all, to be honest. One area that I really hate, though, is abusive relationships. I didn't completely realize this until I had requested a book for a tour and was thoroughly disgusted within the first few chapters and had to back out. I just don't want to read about bad situations! I can totally sympathize.

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  9. If you know it's a trigger and really painful for you, it probably makes sense to avoid it - why put yourself through torture when you read?

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  10. Yeah, I get what you mean. I sometimes make myself read difficult books (classics, especially), but I have a couple of hard limits - the most recent one being I can't handle stories where really bad things happen to little kids (my kiddo is 1 and I just can't). So I put away a book recently that had people experimenting on babies (I mean, who DOES that?!).
    And as far as I'm concerned, we're (mostly) just reading for pleasure so why should we read books that make us feel bad? :)

  11. I don't read horror (although I can handle some pretty grim realistic stuff, like Dexter or GIrl with the Dragon Tattoo--though then again I would never WATCH either of those). I also have never read A Child Called It, which is possibly one of the most popular books in the middle school where I teach. But why would I want to read about horrorific, real-life abuse? This is partly because my children come from pretty tough background, but I was avoiding this book long before we adopted them.

    I read one of the sequels to Crank and it bugged me a lot. She doesn't glorify meth, but...I don't know, it felt like she was normalizing it. I know her daughter has struggled with meth addiction, so it's understandable that Hopkins sees the human face in the addict, but I somehow didn't feel like reading this book would actively discourage a kid from trying meth.

  12. Good question! I have a hard time reading about torture. Especially any kind of medical experimentation, ugh. But I'm willing to read tough topics if the book seems worth it. A good example, but a really hard book to read, was Elizabeth Wein's Rose Under Fire, about the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Bacigalupi's The Water Knife is another one that really freaked me out but was a great read. I don't really like crime fiction in general unless it has a point.

  13. I'm the same way, but with rape scenes. I can handle it if it is written well, like in Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. But the graphic scenes that are just there for gore and completely unnecessary really make me angry and sick to my stomach. This happened to someone very close to me, so this stuff is really hard to read...or watch. I even avoid movies with rape scenes because it's just too much for me. But like I said, if it is written in a way that I can appreciate, in a way where the female character tries to move on from this horrible thing that happened to her, I can read it. Speak was one of my favorite books.


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