Why I prefer “good” endings

March 5, 2015 Musings 14

A few weeks ago, I read Paper Fury’s post about books that don’t have conclusions, books where there’s a problem and it doesn’t get solved. She likes them even when they frustrate her. I can’t stand them even if well written. In trying to formulate why I feel that way, I came up with this:

I find this sort of book incredibly frustrating, even if it’s good and well-written, because… well, because it’s not why I read fiction. I deal with anxiety on a fairly regular basis. I’ve gotten better at dealing with it over the years. But I need to reinforce my underlying optimism, my belief that things can work out, which my anxiety constantly threatens to undermine. Thus, I prefer to read fiction that ends well. It gives me hope; on some deep level it helps counter the anxiety.

I’ve written about this topic before, but I think that’s the clearest, most succinct way of explaining my preference for satisfactory endings I’ve ever come up with. Put quite simply, they’re good for my mental health.

14 Responses to “Why I prefer “good” endings”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I really prefer happy endings, but I’ll settle for a bittersweet ending (as in The Lord of the Rings) when I have to, as long as it’s more on the positive side than the negative. I know happy endings don’t always happen in real life, but that’s kind of the point – because of my anxiety, it’s so easy for me to dwell on all the bad things that could happen, so I would rather read things that reinforce the positive possibilities. An unresolved situation drives me nuts, both because it’s unresolved and because I don’t know which way it’s likely to go.

  1. Tanya Patrice

    I don’t need a happy ending, but it would be nice if the book has been sad throughout – but I definitely need some kind of resolution.

  2. Kaja

    I like happy endings, too. It’s why I read romance – the sheer predictability of the story (sure, the conflicts and the characters change but we can always count on the happily ever after). But I only expect that in the romance genre, so I’m not as upset by weird endings in other genres – either fantasy or general fiction.
    Kaja recently posted…Tough Travels: VampiresMy Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      It’s one of the things I like about romance, too – and also mystery. At least I can be sure they will solve the mystery! I do tolerate less-than-happy endings in other genres – sometimes. It depends on my mood and how my anxiety is going.

  3. Lianne @ eclectictales.com

    Great post! I’m trying to think of a book I’ve read where the story/problem wasn’t resolved or if it ends with a cliffhanger and what my reaction was in that instance…But I guess I’m with everyone in that I don’t necessarily need a happy ending as long as there’s a resolution. Or as long as it makes sense in the context of the way the story had been running (though would that mean that I’d be okay if the problem wasn’t fully resolved at the end? Hmm).
    Lianne @ eclectictales.com recently posted…Review: SmokeMy Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I do prefer a happy or at least hopeful ending most of the time, but not if it doesn’t fit the whole book. Of course, if the whole book is depressing, I’m not likely to get as far as the ending!