Sometimes I Don’t Like Books with Feels

My first memorable case of THE FEELS happened while I was watching Pokémon: The First Movie. And OH MAN, PIKACHUUUU. Such a tear-jerker. Anyway, we’ve all read reviews, comments, or outbursts from readers who are just completely, utterly, and uncontrollably overwhelmed by the feels.

feels    /fēls/
A wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained. (Urban Dictionary)

For all you visual learners out there, here are some graphical representations of THE FEELS, courtesy of tumblr.

So feels are good, right? They make you want to sing and cry and scream and laugh, and more importantly, they make you want to share this extremely feels-inducing book with not only your best buddies, but also with your best buddies’ parents, with strangers, your dog, the blogosphere, the fridge – anybody and anything is a legitimate outlet for your BURST OF FEELS, because you can’t possibly keep all these feels for yourself! (That’s just selfish.)

But I have a confession to make: I don’t necessarily enjoy a book that gives me the feels. Wait, wait, let me finish before you cry “blasphemy!” I don’t usually like negative emotions; there are people who love the angst and the torturous feelings that come with sad endings, but I’m not one of them. A book with a low low followed by an uplifting and heartwarming event is glorious, but a book that ends with a low low tends to leave me disappointed.

I also tend to be more sensitive to sad feels. Events that tend to cause grief, distress, or anxiety hit me more than the victorious, triumphant, or happy events. I would just call this post “I Don’t Like Angst”, but THE FEELS IS SO MUCH MORE THAN ANGST, AMIRITE? It’s like a mix of everything, and sometimes certain combinations just make me not as excited about a book as others are. So sometimes I do get major feels from a book, but that doesn’t make me want to run to my computer and five-star it.

That’s not to say that I won’t keep reading these disappointing feels-inducing books – I can’t help but want to read a book that gave someone else the feels because I WANT TO FEEL TOO! It would help if people could describe THE FEELS with sub-feels, like, “OMG THE (sad) FEELS I CAN’T EVEN” so that I know to stay away from certain reads, but that doesn’t sound as exciting. And there are exceptions to my selectivity filter; I’m waiting for that amazing-yet-super-sad book that I will fall in love with. I’ve already fallen in love with a film that had me crying a river while my parents looked on awkwardly (no, it wasn’t Pokémon, har har), so it’s bound to happen with a book!

How do you feel about books with lots of feels?
Do you avoid them or embrace them?

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27 thoughts on “Sometimes I Don’t Like Books with Feels

  1. Interesting post! I’ve kind of trained myself to try to read these types of huge-emotion-inducing books when I’m in a pretty even-keeled place otherwise. If I’m feeling particularly vulnerable or sad about something going on in my real life, reading something like that can totally put me over the edge–and not in a good way. So I try to save those types of books–or parts of books–for times when stuff is pretty good in real life–then “all the feels” are just a temporary stop instead of completely taking over.

    • That’s a really good idea, bookmammal! The happiness of your general mood and the feels you get from books cancelling each other out is something I haven’t even thought about since I generally like to read happy books when I’m in a good mood, so definitely something to think about. 🙂

  2. I like books that make me feel all emotional (I hate the saying “All the feels”, so I won’t be typing that, but I don’t mind when other people say it, I just can’t). Anyway I think I like it better when the emotional event takes place during the coarse of the book because then there is less time for angst. Like if someone died BEFORE the book even starts, then you know the person is just going to be dealing with that and pretty much only that for the ENTIRE book and it makes me feel less towards their situation. If the emotional event happens in the middle or the end, it’s much more likely that I’ll feel whatever that event is alongside them. If that makes any sense. John Green always gets me crying I know that. And Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was another sobfest for me. Great discussion idea 🙂

    • Ahaha, I didn’t even know “feels” was a thing until I started reading book blogs! 😛 I agree, death or other equally emotional events that happen during a book just feels more intense. I haven’t actually read any John Green books yet *shifts eyes* but I’ll keep Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock in mind when I’m ready for ALL THE FEELS, haha!

      • Well, thank your lucky stars, because tumblr ruined my life. I’ve had to take a self-imposed hiatus to try to break the addiction!

        In reference to feels, I was actually thinking about this post today (wow, your writing was so profound that I found myself pondering it long after I read it!), and I think that when I don’t enjoy feels (especially sad ones) in a book is when I feel like the author is trying to manipulate me. I don’t really know how to say it, but sometimes sad feelings are a natural part of the story, but then other times it’s like the author is cackling someplace in the background saying, “This will tear their hearts out! BAHAHAH!” and that really annoys me.

        There are some books like, say, ‘Anne of Green Gables’ that I read knowing that I’m going to cry (maybe Matthew won’t die this time… please????), but that sadness is a part of the natural progression of the story. Then there are other times that I’m reading a book and someone’s death or whatever just leaves me feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under me (like when Rowling haphazardly killed off loads of nice people in the final battle – some of those felt like artificial attempts to jerk on my feels).

        Anyway, I don’t know if I’m expressing myself very well, but basically I’m cool with natural sad feels but artificially imposed sad feels end up making me angry, lol.

        • Oh, don’t even get me started about character death!!! It’s one of my biggest pet peeves (when it’s done wrong). The feels I get from reading A Game of Thrones are completely forced out of me.

  3. I’m not a by fan of depressing books either, but I do like or love some. I think it depends more on how it’s addressed. If it’s depression Al throughout, I wouldn’t be able to stand it. But if there’s a reprieve or relief then maybe.

    • Hm, that’s an interesting thought – I haven’t read a book that’s completely depressing throughout, but I think I’d prefer some up and downs and not just all downs. I think the cause of the sadness also hits me in different ways. Too many feelings ahhhhh. 😛

  4. Great post! I’m not a fan of sad feels either, although I have found my sad book that’s so wonderful I love it anyway – The Book Thief – so I’ll probably give still give sad books a chance occasionally 🙂

    • Oh, The Book Thief has been on my shelf for a while, and I’m terrified of reading it because of the potential feels! I’ll be reading this one in the summer then, when the happy-sunny weather mitigates the sad feels, haha.

  5. Oh God, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock will kill you, Sophie. IT WILL KILL YOU! For a visual, imagine that second gif you show but instead of it simply just hitting the superhero in the stomach, make it so that makes him disintegrate in a pile of ashes and, uh… mega-feels. Seriously, that book is just so, so depressing. I can’t even. Oh, and Pokemon: The First Movie made me cry when I was a kid, too. The image of a crying Pikachu will never leave me.

    A dead Ash didn’t bother me much, though. I didn’t really take a liking for that kid. I preferred Team Rocket. I don’t know why, but their ridiculousness won my heart. Also, I had a bit of a crush on James. In my defense, James is probably the best and kindest Pokemon trainer in the world. While Ash and his friends were knocking out Pokemon and stuffing them in their balls (that sounds wrong, hehe), James politely asks the Pokemon he meets if they want to come along.

    JAMES IS A VILLAIN WITH A BIG HEART AND I LOVE HIM ❤ ❤ ❤ ASH CAN FAIL AND GO HOME WITH A SHATTERED HEART FOR ALL I CARE! (Pikachu has to stay happy, though.)

    Er, uh, anyways…

    I absolutely adore books with feels in them. I have categories for my feels, though. Happy feels, sad feels, sweet feels, aww-feels… Yeah, I don't think I have mentioned the categories in any post of mine, but I do use them in my mind. I love all of the categories equally, but as of right now, I am now actively going after books that are have sweet and happy feels than books with the sad sort of feels. I'm a bit under the weather at the moment (first couple days of Spring break and I am stuck in bed. Booo!), so I need stories that make me want to smile like an idiot.

    But since this post seems to mainly be about sad feels, I shall talk about those! I actually really adore sad feels, there is just something about reading how a fictional character goes through something tragic (that preferably happens during the book) that makes me experience all the feels like nothing else. But but but! There needs to be a Big Event Crammed With Happiness by the end. So I guess I like it when a massive amount of sad feels has a bit of happy feels mixed in it?

    Feels is a complicated thing. It's hard to explain… I just know that I do, in fact, LOVE THEM!

    • Uh oh, good to know, Lesley! I don’t know if I’ll be emotionally prepared to read that any time soon then. .___.

      AHAHA omg, I liked James toooooo! But more so because I thought of him as a silly character rather than a kind one. I also had an irrational crush-hate thing going on with Gary because he was such a bad boy. (And now I’m in the mood for some Team Rocket fanfiction teehee)

      And oh no, feel better soon! At least you get more time to read, right? Unless you’re feeling really really sick and you don’t even feel up for reading – I’m sending you happy, get-well thoughts! I love happy feels, but I just have a knee-jerk reaction to anything sad. Actually, the only easy way to get me to read sad books (or watch sad movies) is if I’m unaware that they’re sad-feels-inducing. (Which is kind of hard to do, unless someone shoves a book in my face and says, “Go read this NOW!”)

      • Wait until your ready to get attacked with feels. That book was even hard for me to read.

        I always thought that James was the kindest human character in the series… He just got dragged into the wrong crowd (not that I’m complaining. I’ve always shipped him with Jesse. I think they get together in the manga, actually!) 😛 Ash just sort of yelled things about friendship and trust, all awhile forcing poor Pokemon “to go on an exciting adventure with him”.

        Yeah, I’m one of those people who pretend that they are a semi-evil person when they play the Pokemon games. I’m weird.

        Oh, I’m feeling well enough to read, haha! And I’m getting better now. It’s just my throat is sore now >_< I appreciate the get-well thoughts! Yikes, the only way I'm going to be able to make you read sad books is to trick you? Well, darn. It's not below me, though 😉 I'm kidding. I won't do that to you.

        Btw: Remember when I recommend Okay For Now? Er, uh, that book is sort of sad. But it does have a lot of happy, hopeful moments, too! It's just that the main character's homelife isn't very pleasant… Just wanted to let you know, though I still recommend it 🙂

        • You’re making me see James in a completely different light! I need to go watch Team Rocket clips on Youtube now to confirm this “kindness” thing that you see in James. 😛

          Jessie was actually my favorite female character, despite (or maybe because of) her domineering personality. Must go read manga to confirm Team Rocket shipping! *boards ship*

          Ooh okay, thanks for letting me know! I still look forward to reading it! 🙂 (Also, random thought: I just realized that I’ve never cried because of a book.)

          • Try to find some James clips that have Chimecho– I think his moments with that Pokemon are the sweetest! Jessie’s personality always made me smile as a little kid. And admittedly, I kind of found it to be really cool. I was always like “yeah, she’s the boss!” Even now, though I think of her as a bit of an idiot, she’s still the boss 😛

            There are different Pokemon manga. The one you should look for is The Electric Tale of Pikachu. Be prepared for some controversial content, though (apparently, the guy who made drew the manga thought that sexual+Pokemon=success). And the VIZ Media versions are hard to find, so you’ll probably have to settle for the scanlations, which are missing the very last chapter, I think.

            I cry over books. Short stories seem to hit me hardest, for some reason, though. Letters to Algernon had me crying in the middle of English class.

            • Hmm, nothing sexual in the beginning of The Electric Tale of Pikachu yet, and I really like the art! 🙂

              I haven’t had any luck with short stories lately, meh, but I think longer books have a greater chance of making me more devoted to the characters, so those give me more feels. My friend really likes Letters to Algernon too, so I’ve got to read it at some point!

              • I think it’s only the Japanese version… Maybe the scanlation sites were using the edited US version– I’m not sure, though, since I never needed to look them up.

                Letters to Algernon hit me and the rest of the class really hard. Oh, and the author also expanded the short story into a full-length novel, if you’re interested. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard good things 🙂

                • Oh, okay… o_O still, I hope I don’t accidentally come across something unexpected, haha. And Letters to Algernon was a short story?!?! (That makes sense now, since we were talking about short stories. Good job, Sophie.) I always thought it started out as a novel. Good to know though!

  6. I am totally with you on this – I just have a hard time getting behind something I KNOW is going to make me feel bad! (Unless it was a childhood favourite). I just watched The Deep Blue Sea, and this post is EXACTLY an explanation of my reaction to the film, so I read this at the perfect time! That being said, if I read something absolutely tragic, I am more likely to enjoy it than if it’s real life tragic, which is probably why it’s easier for me to read fantasy novels where sad things happen than contemporary novels where sad things happen, which is probably why I read more fantasy in the first place.

    • Oh, I definitely agree with you on the fantasy vs. contemporary sad-feels-inducing thing, Elizabeth! In general, the more relatable a sad event is, the more I don’t want to feel it or read about it. (And I’ve never seen The Deep Blue Sea, but that’s exactly the type of movies that my parents liked to watch when we got together for movie nights, so I kind of had feels forced upon me when I was younger. Maybe that’s why I don’t enjoy feeling the more “negative” feels?)

  7. I feel super similar about this as you do…except it’s completely the opposite, haha. I’m all good with sad feels — it’s the happy feels that I don’t quite love or can’t grasp appropriately. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a good happy ending, especially when it’s the end to a series that I’ve loved or a book in which I have a lot of feelings about the ship. But I respond much more to books that have a lot of angst or sad emotions involved in them, than books that have a lot of happy emotions. I’m not really sure WHY I’m like this…trust me, I want to be able to enjoy those adorable YA contemporary romances just as much as everybody else, but it just doesn’t happen for me, so I’m stuck reading depressing makes-you-want-to-cry books over here in the corner 😛 But, yeah, I definitely know how you feel.

    • That’s really interesting, Miranda! Even though we both get hit by the “negative” emotions more than the “positive” ones, it seems like we have different reactions to those feels.

      This makes me wonder about the psychology behind feeling the feels, and I found this article on Greatist about why people like sad movies that might be similar to what happens with books. (Except I don’t usually feel better or more grateful after watching/reading sad things… do you?)

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