Sunday, September 15, 2013

Books that have made me cry

So . . . I cry easily. I cry especially easily over fictional situations when they're well expressed and authentically rendered. Sometimes I bring my own baggage to the table and am probably crying more because of what it reminds me of/what it invokes rather than what's actually on the page, but it doesn't matter. If something happens in my head because of a book, I'm crediting the book, even if the prerequisites were necessary.

So I figured I would share with you fifteen books that have made me cry and a vague explanation of why.

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
    Why: Jane's longing was so palpable sometimes, and when she lost people it was just so devastating that I was astounded that she could keep soldiering on.

  2. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler.
    Why: A character who protects other people at her own cost is frequently taught that no good deed goes unpunished, but she keeps doing it.

  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
    Why: The protagonist's soulful, sort of innocent recitations made his longing and love so tangible, and sometimes the poignant way he phrased his feelings made them jump off the page for me.

  4. Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer.
    Why: A character got injured and I thought he might be dead and/or unable to continue supporting the other characters. The protagonist's relationship with the injured character was deepened, beautifully.

  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
    Why: The protagonist buried her feelings a lot, so when they came out in fits of rage or torrential crying, you could really feel the nerves and the power behind it. The damage done to her from the beginning of her life was terrifying.

  6. The Wizard's Dilemma by Diane Duane.
    Why: The protagonist poured her time, her thoughts, her efforts, and her heart into trying to save someone and she couldn't do it.

  7. The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale.
    Why: Throughout the series, the characters' fear, self-doubt, and complex emotions were so bitingly realistic. You could just sense the homesickness, horrible gut-wrenching fear, guilt, and love just rolling off the page.

  8. Roots by Alex Haley.
    Why: So much horror and disgusting treatment was rained upon people who did not deserve it, and then even when every imaginable indignity had been done, the main characters also had to be separated with finality in some cases from their parents, children, and spouses. And I cried because this really happened to people.

  9. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
    Why: Mind-numbing loss and dehumanization permeated this book on several levels. The protagonist's rise to self-awareness about what has been done to him was so bittersweet.

  10. The Stand by Stephen King.
    Why: Well, lots of people I liked died in horrific ways, not to mention almost everyone on the planet died at the beginning of the book, also in a horrific way.

  11. A Separate Peace by John Knowles.
    Why: Death, again. Death and the mourning of those who were left behind.

  12. The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw.
    Why: Utter rejection from one of her peoples causes the protagonist to spend her life with the other half of her heritage, and she doesn't fit there either. No one likes her and she really has no allies. I'm glad this wasn't in first person because I don't think I could have handled reading it.

  13. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman.
    Why: The protagonist has to commit a sort of self-betrayal that really knocked me over for a while, followed by the realization of love only to find that it would torment her.

  14. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.
    Why: You can't not cry when you know the book is about a kid's dog dying. There are two dogs in this book. You do the math.

  15. The Cat series by Joan D. Vinge.
    Why: Freaking Cat and his self-hatred and selflessness. He learns to care before he learns to cope with it and it reads like the tail wagging the dog. The sick, dark losses he incurs in this book made me want to hide somewhere and cry for a very long time.

I don't necessarily cry over simply sad things. I cry over well-expressed, complicated, poignant emotions that make it possible to access the experience of a person who feels like they actually lived this. It's amazing when it happens and I hope I'm even half as successful as some of these writers at bringing my characters to life.


  1. I don't think I actually cry over books, but the emotions they bring up can stay with me when I am not reading the book and for a long time afterward. I was like that with The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. I kept going back to the protagonist's last part in the book, hoping I had misunderstood. And I was just emotionally raw after I was even partway into the Harry Potter book where Dolores Umbridge is in charge of the school.

    Like you, I found The Amber Spyglass intense, especially during the time of the self-betrayal as you put it. It stayed with me for a long time afterward. What she does, without spoiling the book for those who have not read it, is where I draw the line in my personal life. There's got to be balance, and I have to believe it can be found without that type of destruction (unless it has already taken place against one's will). I was so glad I kept reading, because the ending was gratifying, if bittersweet.

    1. Well I cry over many things, so it's not surprising that I cry over books. :) I'm that one twerp tearing up in the movie theater when no one else is.

      I had a similar experience with Harry Potter actually, but it didn't make me cry--just made ANGRY.

      It's awesome to know you liked The Amber Spyglass. I was reading it at my workplace and my friend came to pick me up just as I was finishing it. I made him wait while I sat in a chair and finished. :D

  2. I don't think a book has ever made me cry. (Can't say the same for movies though.) My first book made some people cry. I actually felt bad about that...

    1. I've had people say they cried over my stuff too and it just blows me away!

  3. I like books that make me cry. It's usually the emotion of the character. So if a writer got me to cry, they're doing their job right.