I actually had some trouble deciding the topic of today’s discussion post.
Usually, something will happen during the week that instantly inspires the next discussion post, but this time nothing really happened. So I had to resort to my list.
But then just at the last minute I thought back to one of my latest reviews: The Manifest On How To Be Interesting. And I remember how uncomfortable I was when reading certain passages from it. And on instagram, other people admitted they were just as uncomfortable.
So now I’m wondering…
What are uncomfortable topics & why are they there?
I’m pretty sure we all know the sort of topics I’m talking about.
When you’re reading a book, and there’s just that feeling in your stomach, almost like a knot of revulsion. Sometimes you feel sick when reading certain passages of a book. Sometimes they just make you squirm, and sometimes they make you want to put the book down and not pick it back up again.
So what ARE uncomfortable topics?
Well, there’s not really a specific answer for that, is there? Because it changes for everyone.
While one person might hate violence and gore, another will be able to happily read it. Another person might not be comfortable reading sex scenes, but that won’t stop someone else frantically turning the pages of the same book.
I honestly thought I didn’t have certain topics that would make me cringe away from books. As a person, I don’t get disturbed that easily; I can read and watch pretty much anything without flinching away.
For me, it’s hard to pick out “uncomfortable topics”. I think the few I can pick out are detailed sexual abuse, attitude manipulation, and incest.
BUT…I can read those topics. So how can they be uncomfortable for me?
But I honestly think this is the difference – it’s how it’s written.
Put it this way. I’ve read the A Song Of Ice And Fire (Game of Thrones) series and thoroughly enjoyed it. But as I’m sure everyone knows, that includes a huge amount of violence, sexual scenes (both wanted and abusive), incest, death…you name it. So how did I enjoy that series, when a book much tamer can make me squirm with just one of those topics?
It must be how it’s written. The way the situation is explained and dealt with. The world it takes place in. The character it happens to. Why it happens. There’s so many elements to these situations, surely that must be what makes the difference.
But also the reader themselves. The situations they’ve gone through in their personal life, the way their imagination strays, their attitude. A whole host of things merge together to form a person’s opinion, and that’s why it’s so difficult to pinpoint.
If they make people uncomfortable, why are they written about?
Well, everything should be written about. I honestly don’t think there’s any topic that shouldn’t be written about. Because while it might be difficult to read about, it raises awareness and educates the public that little bit more. And I know I’m not the only one that thinks this, because I’ve already done a discussion post on the topic.
Also, think of it this way. What would happen if there were guidelines to what people could write and publish? Well, first there’d be the obvious issue regarding freedom of speech. But other than that, how on earth could the guidelines be decided? It would be incredibly difficult to decide what classes as an uncomfortable topic or not, since everyone’s opinion on that is different.
So it wouldn’t really work, would it?
I feel like books should do what DVDs do. You know, with the content warnings on the back cover somewhere. I feel like it’s already doing well, since books targeted at younger readers sometimes have warnings for sexual content, swearing, violence, things like that. There’s also trigger warnings on books related to mental health. And often enough, it’s easy enough to judge from the synopsis of the book what sort of story it will be, regarding violence etc. I just think that if anything else could be added or possibly needed, those small boxes with content warnings on DVDs could be included too, just for the readers peace of mind when buying a book.
Join the discussion!
What do you think about uncomfortable topics?
What classes as uncomfortable topics for you? What sort of situations do you struggle to read about?
Has there ever been a book you had to put down and not finish because it made you too uncomfortable? Which book and why?
Are there any books you won’t even attempt to read because you’ve heard they include difficult topics?
Do you think there needs to be more warnings on books? How do you think this could work?
Join the discussion in the comments!
Until next time…