As reported in an article from the Independent, “misery literature” is gaining in popularity, especially in the form of memoirs. Last year, the bestselling memoir in the UK, Behind Closed Doors by Jenny Tomlin, which discusses her childhood experiences of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and neglect, out-sold the Booker Prize-winning The Inheritance of Loss by more than six times.
Most of the misery titles are sold in paperback form, and are purchased from supermarket shelves. But now bookstores are tapping into the market as well: one of the UK’s largest retail booksellers, Waterstones, has formed a “painful lives” section.
While Quillblog understands that many people write such books to “help”, ostensibly, others in similar situations, the header of “painful lives” gives a creepy, voyeuristic feel to the section that seems to take too much enjoyment in the real struggle the books recount.