“And they all lived happily ever after” is the way many fairy tales are taught to children as indeed they were to me. And to this day I generally like books which have a happy ending. If you gave me the choice of two different books with an identical plot up until the ending and one was happy and one the sad I’d choose the former.
To be fair there are some books with sad endings which I have genuinely loved and felt that the ending worked with the story however annoyed I was at the author. But by and large I prefer those books which end happily. The books don’t have to be fiction, they can be a biography or (truthful) historical fiction but when they end happily it leads to an incredible feeling and one of the things I like best about reading.
I think subconsciously my desire for a happy ending is related what I want my life to be like. It is purely selfish but I don’t want my life to be the kind of life where everyone cries but one where everyone is happy. Sadly this is not the case and I am grateful that my life hasn’t been a completely easy although it has been easy compared to that of many others.
The second reason for the enjoyment of “happily ever after” endings is because it reflects a desire for justice that many of us have. In these endings we see the good guy win and the bad guy get what he deserves, which we don’t always see, however much we want to, in real life.
The endings I enjoy are predominantly “happily ever afters” and you might disagree, but I think they point to the desire that many people have of a perfect world that they are just not getting at this time.