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Topic: Serious but not Depressing

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Subject: Serious but not Depressing
Date Posted: 8/20/2009 2:15 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 316
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Ask MetaFilter is a community in which people ask questions and the "hive mind" provides answers. It it moderated so few are the problems due to the anonymity of the interwebs (stupid mean frivolous answers - see Yahoo! Answers if you dare).

Anyway, Somebody at Ask Metafilter ( http://ask.metafilter.com/130696/What-book-should-we-read-that-is-not-depressing) has to choose a book for book club and doesn't want “a piece of fluff” but “something sustaining, life-affirming, and mind-opening.” But not depressing.

I thought of these:
1/ One of Ours by Willa Cather. Farmer turned soldier. WWI changes him. Idealistic and romantic and noble in places, but hard-nosed and realistic in others. It won a Pulitzer in 1923. My review of this book http://buffalosavage.xanga.com/710205962/serious-not-depressing-somber-but-inspiring/ has some excerpts.
2/ Of Mice and Men by John Steinibeck. Dignity, self-respect, respect for others, fairness.
3/ Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. In a death camp, therapist Frankl helps his fellow inmates cope with horror. A stirring book.
4/ Tracks by Robyn Davidson. Tough Aussie woman travels 1700 miles across Australian desert with camels. Follow your dream.

Other people mentioned these,. which I’ve not read:
1/ Life of Pi
2/ A Confederacy of Dunces
3/ Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Your thoughts?

Last Edited on: 8/21/09 8:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/22/2009 12:15 AM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2008
Posts: 1,958
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Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--serious subject matter, a little funny in some places and totally delightful.

Date Posted: 8/22/2009 1:55 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Mice and Men is nothing but depressing. Has Steinbeck ever written anything not so? LOL. FWIW, I am a Steinbeck fan.



Date Posted: 8/22/2009 2:03 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Laura - exactly what I was going to say.  Super, super depressing.

But Endurance kind of changed my life and I recommend it highly!

Date Posted: 8/22/2009 2:05 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2008
Posts: 87
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Any other hints or examples of what has gone over well with this book club?  "Mind-opening" suggests that the person is looking for difficult subject matter (but it's hard to know what might be new to a person without knowing his or her background), but "life-affirming" usually suggests only happy topics.  Does this mean a depressing topic that ends on an up note?  Or something like Jane Austen?  (Unless you're a person like me, who finds Jane Austen depressing.)

What about Possession by A.S. Byatt?  A few "meatier" are topics are in there, such as feminism, but it's a mystery and a love story.

Or maybe A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle?  It's set around the time of the Easter Rising in Dublin (1916) and has an interesting historical perspective as well as a fairly upbeat ending.  (The sequel is pretty much nothing but a downer, though.  We'll see if the third book is the big send-off.)

Date Posted: 8/22/2009 2:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2009
Posts: 1,938
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Hiding Place-Corrie ten Boom

About the holocaust but with a positive message throughout.

Date Posted: 9/8/2009 1:49 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2007
Posts: 5,272
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I would have to 2nd the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  It's brilliant, IMHO.

Also, The Zookeeper's Wife is a holocaust novel, but upbeat and positive. 

I loved both.

Date Posted: 9/19/2009 1:22 PM ET
Member Since: 9/15/2009
Posts: 10
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I definitely agree with The Life of Pi. That's a life affirming book if I've ever read one, and it will appeal to people of just about every faith and background. It also makes for a great book club book because the ending really lends itself to discussion.

I would also consder Paradise by Toni Morrison. It has some really sad parts, but it also has a lot of uplifting parts and would be great for discussion in a book club because it deals with racism, xenophobia, tradition, women's rights, and overcoming your past. The ending is bittersweet, but still beautiful.