I've been making my way (slowly) through the new Erik Larson book, The Splendid and the Vile because who doesn't want to read about WWII when you're depressed?
Actually, I started reading LOTR when the pandemic started. What could be better than reading about an epic journey through uncertain times (gah! how many times have we heard that phrase! in car commercials, even!) during our own uncertain journey? Besides, I have loved, loved, love those books, ever since I found a paperback version of The Fellowship of the Ring in a drugstore in a mostly deserted Pomona mall at age 16 when I was on a recruiting trip with my dad. I have since re-read those books a number of times, and they have always provided me with a certain amount of comfort.
But. This time--for the first time--I became impatient with little hairy-toed men spouting poetry at me. Poetry in novel cuts into the narrative flow, don't you think?
Besides--and here's the real point of this post--I have an easier time reading non-fiction when I'm depressed. Even if the events are hard and tragic (hello, WWII), there's a certain distance between the reader and the subject. In some ways, the reader is asked to respond intellectually when reading non-fiction rather than emotionally, unlike fiction which aims to "draw you in." And when you're emotionally exhausted, which is the hallmark of this kind of extreme depression, being drawn in just makes things harder.