What are you consuming?


A young girl is found dead in the forest and the killer is at large.

I often wonder why we are attracted to this scenario when it’s such cliché. It seems that in nearly every new thriller another girl is found dead in the forest. How many forests are there in the world? And why is it always (or mostly), a young girl who’s been murdered? And more importantly, why do we continue to watch these shows and read these books when the world seems to be falling down around our ears. How has it become normal to watch the re-enactment of a murder as a way of winding down after a hard day at work, or escaping from the realities of the news?

I’m not judging you. I’m exactly the same. I’m looking out for that great new show or book that will take me away from a world where disasters are much too real and terrible things are happening. I recently watched an entire series on SBS in just a few days which I know isn’t anything unusual, people binge watch all the time, but it’s unusual for me.

Perhaps fictional murders are easier to deal with than real life. No doubt there’s a lot of psychology here (and a few PhDs in the making), but for my money I think that the fact that we know it isn’t real is somehow weirdly comforting. The mystery element of working out “who done it” engages our brain and takes us away from our everyday problems.

To offset my viewing choices, I’ve tried to expand my mind with some non-fiction titles during my time at home, but I’m still drawn to murder mysteries as they are just so consumable. It’s so easy to just keep reading, sometimes late into the night. The room painting project is suffering and so is the writing.

I wonder if you are drawn to murder mysteries in these strange times or whether you are after a good comfort read? I’m trying to alternate between books that inspire, educate or inform, and just pure escapism. I can churn through light fiction in a couple of days, but the more serious stuff seems to take weeks to read, even though it’s good for my mind and my soul.

I try not to feel guilty about reading light fiction, in fact I don’t know why I even think I SHOULD feel guilty.

There are enough things to worry about without thinking that your reading isn’t up to scratch.

After all, who’s judging? I don’t worry about what other people think but sometimes I get to the end of a book and feel like I’ve been eating fairy floss. I haven’t learnt anything, I haven’t filled up my brain with any goodness, I’ve just distracted myself for a few hours. I suppose there are worse vices but I’m conscious that my reading and viewing choices are a bit unsatisfying. A bit like eating too much ice-cream, enjoyable at the time but not very nutritious.

For me, the best solution is to find books that are compelling, well-written, but not too demanding. I’m quite keen on endings that are uplifting. They don’t have to have a happy ending, all tied up in a bow, but I do like to finish a book feeling that things will work out eventually.

Do you have any suggestions that fit those criteria? I already have a massively long TBR, but one can never have too many books to read.

4 thoughts on “What are you consuming?

  1. Joe and I were watching quite a few murder mysteries on TV this past year or two. The lighter ones like Father Brown were oddly satisfying – seemed like total relaxation and escapism, and it felt good to take an hour or two for that, for no hard thinking. We watched the dark, intense ones too, at least a few of them, and they can be mesmerizing and so well acted and written. But those – I just felt as though you can overdoes on that – and I don’t need more darkness. Also didn’t like that it is always about the murder of a woman and I felt uncomfortable about that, for a variety of reasons. I think you raise some interesting questions here, have you considered writing an essay about this? Anyway, I’m kind of feasting on your blog lately, thanks for being so prolific. You may not think you are writing enough (like me) but the blog is important.

    1. Thank you for your comments and your encouragement. I popped in to work last week and a couple of people mentioned that they read my blog but that they never comment because they can’t think of anything “witty” to say. It dismays me to think that people feel they need to write something clever. I can never think of anything clever to write on other people’s blogs so I know how they feel. I’m not suggesting that people should feel obliged to comment, only that it’s lovely when they do.
      Yes those lighter mysteries are a good option when you are in the mood for a bit of escapism. I’m not personally a fan of Father Brown but I do love English dramas. The high production values make them a joy to watch. A friend recommended “The English Game” on Netflix which I never would have watched in a million years (it’s about football) and I really enjoyed it. The set dressing and elaborate costumes are just exquisite. I enjoy watching Agatha Christie for the same reason.
      I had not thought of writing a longer piece on this, but will give it some thought. I have quite a few ideas for articles but they are just swimming around in my head at the moment, marinating as it were…

  2. I have read a few reviews of The Wife and the Widow which said that they guessed the ending halfway through but I certainly didn’t so I enjoyed it.
    I think our enjoyment of books depends a lot on what kind of mood we are in and whether or not we are finding it hard to concentrate. Sometimes I can’t find the energy to tackle anything too demanding.
    I think I’m in the mood for a romcom next and then maybe something more serious. I guess that’s the secret to a varied reading diet!
    Thanks so much for your suggestions, I will add them to my list.

  3. I’ve just finished The Widow and the Wife by Christian White. I was promised a twist in the end. I had guessed the outcome about 2/3rds in but I doggedly read to the end hoping something different was to be revealed. SO disappointing. Call me a masochist but I am now reading his first novel (Nowhere Child) because I had ordered both from the library and they came through together. Already his themes and interests are repeating themselves and annoying me. I AM very judgemental about people who only read one author because I think most authors have a style which necessarily repeats itself and I can’t believe people could read the same plot (characters and setting altered) over and over again.
    However, I realised recently that I had recently read many books with a social justice theme so who am I to judge! I recommend American Dirt (Jeanine Cummins), MIddle England (Jonathon Coe) and The Weekend (Charlotte Wood) which cover a variety of themes.

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