Literature of Endurance

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A shrewd observer of titles that dominate the bestseller list week after week will notice the plethora of books about overcoming harrowing events or difficult trials. Over at the Financial Times, Ed Caesar weighs in on our readerly obsessions on stories about enduring tough times:

One easy explanation for the success of the endurance-lit phenomenon is that it’s more enjoyable to read about great hardship than to experience it. Because of the disparity between the circumstances of the characters and those of the reader, the process becomes something like a benign version of schadenfreude. It is a double pleasure: not only are you mercifully not there (the freezing mountain, the unforgiving jungle, the final mile of a race) but you are guiltlessly and assuredly here (filling an armchair, warmed by single malt, kids asleep).


Victor Luo is a graduate of UC Davis's MA in Creative Writing program specializing in fiction. He lives in Los Angeles where he loves never having to be cold. More from this author →