Let’s Talk Bookish: Tackling Toxic Relationships in Literature

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Today’s topic is Tackling Toxic Relationships in Literature.

When it comes to fiction how should toxic relationships be handled? Is it okay to portray toxic relationships How can we avoid glorifying Teacher x Student or other toxic dynamics, and is it important to try to avoid that? How do you feel about abusive relationships in fiction? What about in adult dark romance?

I’m not usually one for romance novels and while I have come across some representations of toxic relationships in the genres I do read, it’s hardly the central point of the story. That said, if the dynamic is part of the story, as long as the author handles it in a sensitive manner, and actually brings to the reader’s attention how bad things really are without glorifying or romanticizing it, it can be a good thing. People are influenced by what they read to greatly varying extents, but this can be a great way to educate readers about the dangers of toxic relationships. It’s absolutely essential to avoid glorifying such toxic dynamics which are not only unhealthy, but also illegal in the case of student/teacher relationships.

Personally though, I’ve never seen the appeal in these kinds of books. I don’t like reading about abusive relationships and this largely ties into last week’s topic about how mental health relates to reading books. Reading is a method of relaxation for me, so I try to avoid books that delve into such disturbing themes even if the purpose might be to show how someone gets out of such a relationship. I can’t speak for adult dark romance as it’s not a genre I’ve ever ventured into, but generally speaking I am uncomfortable reading books that touch upon these topics and that is a large part of why I believe books should have trigger and content warnings, so that the reader is forewarned and can avoid them if needed.

How do you think books should handle toxic relationships? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


11 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Tackling Toxic Relationships in Literature

  1. Jodie | That Happy Reader April 30, 2021 / 8:31 pm

    I’m not one to read about toxic relationships either – unless there is brevity in the topic and it leads to a story of survival and overcoming obstacles. There are just too many happier subjects to focus my attention on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ariel April 30, 2021 / 10:58 pm

    I feel the same way as you. I prefer sticking to books with happy storylines and I think it’s okay for authors to write about toxic relationships as long as they don’t glorify them. I really don’t like teacher/student relationships though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rukky @ Eternity Books May 28, 2021 / 1:04 pm

    Well said, Raji. If a book is going to talk about toxic relationships, it’s important that they aren’t glorified. And I also don’t really see the appeal of such relationships either but it is a source of enjoyment for some people. So while we avoid it because that’s not what we want from books, it could be what some other people want from books.
    Anyway, great post ✨

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) May 29, 2021 / 6:08 pm

      Thank you! I agree, while it’s not really my type of read, for people who are interested, it’s important that it is portrayed with care.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Stephanie June 24, 2021 / 6:28 am

    I am not a fan of those abusive relationships nor those narratives that romantise toxic traits. I am glad that I am not the only one feeling that way as well

    Liked by 1 person

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