Today I wanted to talk about the books that make me cry. See, for basically all my life, movies/TV have always made me cry and books have never. As a writer/reader, this seems really weird. It might be because I tend to cry when I see someone else cry, though.
Of course, some movies make me cry more than others. If you were curious, the two movies I've cried for the most were the last Harry Potter movie (out of a mix of joy and sadness and generally being overwhelmed) and If I Stay (because sad feels).
But recently, I've begun actually crying for the rare book, so I put together a Goodreads shelf for the books that have made me cry. Today I thought I'd talk about the books there and see if I can figure out what makes me cry about these books, when I never used to cry before, cuz right now I really don't know.
When I hit the end of high school, there were only four books that had ever, to my recollection, made me cry. The first was a long, long time ago: Where the Red Fern Grows in elementary school. I was extremely enraged by the fact that it made me cry, also because I can't stand books where animals die.
Then, in high school, I read Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine, and the depiction of an Asperger's girl learning to forgive her bully touched a lot of personal chords. The third book that made me cry was a book by one of my CPs, because sad beautiful days and I hope it gets published someday.
The fourth book was the one that, I think, broke the dam. Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me made me cry a record three times. Why? Not totally sure. I know I was incredibly touched by the emotional and psychological ideas behind a) her unusual writing style and b) this girl being unable to touch anyone without killing them. It was beautifully done, and I guess maybe I felt lonely in a similar way. For me, a very base anxiety I suffer from, one that plagues my dreams, is that no one is listening to me. This is part of the reason I became a writer. This was sort of the same idea, except with human touch. So it spoke to me, and I cried, a lot. I still adore that book, and the following ones in the series, for that emotional impact it has on me.
After that, in college, I began crying much more often for books. Still not a whole lot, still not nearly as much as I do for movies/TV, but more than before. I currently have 21 books on my crying-related Goodreads shelf, which of course doesn't include my CP's unpublished book, so really, it's 22.
I reread Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and cried for the conclusion of both series for the first time. And that made me happy because as much as I adore and venerate and live by both these series, I'd never cried for them before.
I cried for R.J. Palacio's Wonder the same way I did for Mockingbird. I cried reading John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. I did some nice spiritual crying for the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief and a reread of Gayle Forman's If I Stay dissolved me. I cried for the end of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series. I let out some tears for Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls, John Green's Looking for Alaska, Andrew Smith's Winger, and Elizabeth Scott's Love You, Hate You, Miss You. I cried rereading To Kill a Mockingbird this semester, because Boo. And I've even cried for a couple of books that didn't make it to four star or above, just because something did touch me.
So apparently, I've grown a heart in the past few years. Or at least I've learned how to cry not just from my own frustration or from seeing someone else cry, but from reading things that impact me. I'm not entirely sure what did it, even after writing this, but I have some thoughts.
First, like I said, Shatter Me really did break the dam. I couldn't stop myself from crying with that one and I think afterwards I wasn't so ashamed to: because yes, I'm ashamed of crying. I hate it when I do, and I could go on this rant about how various societal pieces with sexism and ableism have played into this shame and hatred, but that's maybe a post for another day. In any case, I'm learning to embrace it.
The second reason I've been more comfortable with it might actually be my mom. Now, my dear mom likes to drag this story out when she's mad at me, so I might as well just tell y'all: back in high school, before I learned how to cry for books, Mom started reading again. She hadn't for a long time, but then she discovered The Hunger Games and audiobooks and since then, she's been reading YA lit pretty steadily (yay!). So she was reading through the Hunger Games trilogy, and one morning, when I got up for school, I found her in the kitchen crying. I was like, "OH NO WHAT'S WRONG DID SOMEONE HURT YOU AND/OR DIE," because my mom doesn't cry much at all, and then she blurted out about a certain death at the end of Mockingjay. I started laughing.
It wasn't meant to be mean, like, I was relieved and confused and uncomfortable all at once because this was my mom, who never cries or reads, crying over a book.
Since then she's refused to go to the Hunger Games movies with me. So yay. But the point is that I think that affected me a lot as well. Seeing my stoic mom crying because of a book that I loved but hadn't yet cried over myself, it had the same kind of effect as Shatter Me. Like, books are a safe space to cry. I don't have to be all awkward or ashamed about it, the way I am with crying in real life.
So those are just two thoughts I have about why I started crying for books--along with a list of the books I've cried for, haha. What about you? What books have you cried for? How often do you cry for books, as opposed to movies or TV?
Thanks for reading, guys! Next time I'll be doing a "what's in my jewelry box" post.
Images via Goodreads and PhotoBucket.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. More than anything, stories are my life.
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