There are two ways that we can be affected by the narratives we consume; watching movies/shows, reading books, or talking to and sharing with others.
To see someone struggle with depression, the loss of a loved one, or overcome (or be consumed by) a traumatic life event can be an exercise in processing.
In life, we seem to process events in our own lives with hindsight and can rarely process the present in helpful ways. Other narratives, whether the experience of a friend, a movie, or your favorite book, can help us process life on-the-fly. This is why good friends (flesh & blood alongside authors), see Hosea, John, J.K., and Crowe, can bring life to our souls in the midst of the troughs of life.
To see someone struggle with depression, loss, or any other of the myriad tragic narratives in life can also tear us down. This destruction can be caused by (1) our own vantage point, or (2) the author’s false view of what brings life.
One need not look far to see voyeuristic, masochistic, and life-draining narratives. It is not necessarily the subject matter per se that can destroy us, but the interpretation or direction the narrative flows. Does this narrative bring life to my relationships? Does the escape of this story bring me back to my story (life) with renewed energy for the day or despair and longing to pack my bags? Does this author inspire the double-love of God and man, or is the “love” portrayed destructive?
A Brief Aside: Post-apocalyptic
One shining example, ever present before our eyes, is the always-expanding post-apocalyptic genre, which can either point us towards a healthy resolution of man’s darkest tendencies, or it can point us to despair and hopelessness (I’m fully aware that even this has redeeming qualities, but my experience says that only a very small few perceive the silver lining).
Be an active reader; don’t simply consume or be swept away in the telling.
Authors either point us in the direction of life, towards the good of others, towards the security of marital love (either by uplifting marriage or depicting the destruction of giving yourself to anyone/everyone), towards confession rather than bottling; really, anyone who turns us away from ourselves in all our brokenness (our present darkness), and turns us to the joys of family, healthy relationships, and to the Source of all pleasure and satisfaction.
Filter out the dross, what will fade away. But by all means, read and be filled!