I grew up reading and being read to and continue to do both. I’m currently studying one book full-time (the Bible) and, despite having to read quite a bit for my course, usually have a couple of non-set reading books on the go (or on pause – Martin Chuzzlewit!).
I read to think and to relax (not necessarily simultaneously). If a book is neither thought-provoking nor enjoyable I probably won’t read it, and definitely won’t recommend it.
Because I have two major motivations for reading I do enjoy some books that don’t have a typical happily-ever-after ending. What I don’t enjoy are books that suck you in, drag you desperately from one miserable event or character to another without any apparent point, and spit you out at the other end, exhausted and unsatisfied, wondering why you have just spent hours or days torturing yourself like that!
Generally I value character development over plot, but am always overjoyed when I discover an author who does both well. If you know of any please mention them in the comments.