Friday 17 June 2011

Top Five: Books That Make Me Cry

Reading makes me happy, but that doesn't mean all books do - and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, it feels good to just have a cry. Aside from that, it's wonderful to be so involved in a story that it really makes you feel - even if those feelings aren't always warm and fuzzy. A good story, well-told, has the power to make you experience all kinds of emotions, and if something moves me to tears, it means I've had a great read, if not a great time. Here are the top five books that have left me a blubbering heap of despair (in a good way, of course)...

1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Oh my goodness, this book floored me. I was a wreck not just at the end, but all the way through it. Telling the story of three friends whose fate was already decided even before they were born, it's a devastating tale of love and loss. It's beautifully written, but an extremely intense - and at times excruciating - read. The worst (and best) part is that you kind of know what's going to happen, and getting there is wonderful and awful all at once. It's one of the best books I've read (and one of the best movies I've seen) this year.

2. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Henry has a disorder that causes him to time travel uncontrollably, complicating all aspects of his life - especially his relationship with his wife, Clare, who first met him as a little girl on one of his trips through time. What I found most interesting was the idea that Henry and Clare had no choice but to love each other - when they each met the other for the first time (Clare as a child meeting adult Henry in the "past", young adult Henry meeting young adult Clare in the "present") the other is already in love with them (adult Henry with his wife Clare, young adult Clare with the Henry who has visited her all her life). It's this lack of control that is the most frightening aspect of the story, especially as - like with Never Let Me Go - you get closer and closer to what you suspect is going to happen. I devoured this book in two days, and when I finished it I literally sobbed for about half an hour.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. You go into a story set in Nazi Germany (narrated by Death himself, no less) knowing it's not exactly going to be all sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. But The Book Thief surprised me by how whimsical, beautiful and even delightful it was. Which, of course, just made the inevitable sad parts all the more heart-wrenching. I read it over a year ago now and I still get that punched-in-the-gut feeling when I think about certain parts. But it's the wonderful characters that stay with you more than anything; from the book-loving thief of the title, Liesl, to her cheeky, caring friend Rudy, to her abrasive-but-loving foster mother Rosa and her quietly heroic "papa", Hans. This is one of those books that I nag everyone to read - so if you haven't, go do it. Now.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It's a cold, cold person who can make it through Little Women - the classic tale of three remarkable and one extremely annoying four remarkable sisters - without crying. I always know what's going to happen, but it gets me Every. Single. Time. As soon as Beth goes to the Hummels, that's it, I can barely continue reading through my tears. Why couldn't Amy have gone instead?! I mean, er...

5. Checkers by John Marsden. I read this when I was about 11 or 12, and it's the first book that I remember really crying over - like, really crying. Told in flashbacks by a teen girl in a psychiatric hospital, the events that led her there - involving her beloved dog Checkers, her dad and the state government - are slowly revealed, with heartbreaking results. I revisited it again years later, racing through it in a matter of hours - and was still utterly gutted by the end of it. While I haven't read it in awhile, I'm still haunted by its contents whenever I catch a glimpse of the cover on my bookshelf.

What books have really made you cry?

Image via I Can Has Cheezburger


  1. Love this post! Forbidden, Sweethearts, Stolen, This Gorgeous Game, Thirteen Reasons Why would probably be my top 5 :)

  2. Thank you! Ooh, I haven't actually read any of those - will definitely have to give them a read! :)

  3. LOL at the crossed out bit of Little Women. I am still reeling that Teddy and Jo didn't end up together. Nice one.

  4. Great post, I have most of these books but i haven't read them, i guess i should prepare myself?
    This is going to sound terrible but i love books and movies that make me cry.
    My top five would be..
    5. The summer i turned pretty (I always cry in books when the main character loves someone but doesn't love them back, luckily it ended well)
    4. On the jellicoe road (So many people died in this book!)
    3. Leaving paradise (The girl in the book gets hit by a car and has a permament limp and gets teased terribly)
    2. The last song (Her dad dies from cancer, very sad book)
    1. Before i die (The title says it all)

    You must read these if you haven't yet!
    - abbeys bookshelf

  5. Never Let Me Go was definitely a lot more emotionally intense than I expected going into it. It was a fantastic book.

  6. @Lan - I know! I always wanted them to be together. Silly Jo! Damn Amy.

    @Abbey - Definitely be ready for some (highly enjoyable) tears. I haven't read any of your books, but I've seen The Last Song movie (Miley Cyrus was pretty terrible though), and On the Jellicoe Road is high on my wishlist! Thanks for the other recs, I'll check them out!

    @Victoria - Intense is definitely the right word! Have you seen the movie? That's also amazing. Such an interesting and unique story.

  7. Great post Belle!

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows made me bawl! I kept thinking to myself-How could she? I just wanted to stop by and let you know that I answered your question from my blog but since I'm here, I'll just go ahead and link you. Here's the FAQfor NetGalley.

  8. So, these are all books I should avoid? I hate to cry. HATE to cry!


    It also means it was a good book. Darn! I'm caught. I have read Little Women when I was a kid and loved that one. I didn't mind crying so much then. :)

    Seriously, great post and list!

  9. @Kati R - Thanks! Yes, there are quite a few sob-worthy moments throught the Harry Potter series. Thanks heaps for the info! :)

    @Melissa - Thank you!@ Sometimes a good story is worth the tears. :) I would say all these books are!

  10. Sorry, I know this is an old post but I had to comment anyway!

    I was a complete basket case by the end of The Time-Traveller's Wife. I read it once and cried like a little girl... then read it again a few years later, figuring it wouldn't bother me so much now... and cried like a little girl.

    I refuse to see the film just because I know it'll scar me for life!

    I loved Never Let Me Go, although it didn't make me cry. I THINK I cried at The Book Thief though, but I'm not sure.

  11. Comments are always welcome! :) Yes I think the Time Traveller's Wife is the book I've cried the most at. THe ending was just heartbreaking. The movie didn't have quite the same emotional impact for me, but I still liked it.

  12. I just finished The Book Thief (slow off the mark I know) - I was bawling my eyes out. On the train. Next to a complete stranger. He looked at me weird.

  13. LOL, if he'd read the book he'd understand :)

  14. Oh my gosh, never let me go! Totally a tearjerker. These books are from ages ago but I still remember them being the first books that had me sobbing. Bridge to Terabithia and Where the Red Fern Grows. Great post!

  15. Thanks Audrey! I haven't read those books but I've seen the Bridge to Terabithia movie - I watched it on a plane and I was crying like a baby. Awkward!

  16. "Why couldn't Amy have gone instead?!"

    LOL! Oh my gosh, you have me in (laughing) tears! That's so great. :P

  17. Hahaha they're the best kind of tears! :D

  18. Oh totally what Audrey said. there are so many children's books that are sad - yet they didn't traumatize me, they didn't scare me - they just made me realize that life isn't always perfect. And the strong emotion within them made them have a long lasting impact on me as well. Sad is very effective sometimes :0)


  19. Molly, that's so true! A lot of the time the sad stories are the ones that really stay with you.

  20. Wasn't The Time Traveler's Wife just such a beautiful, heartbreaking tale. I couldn't get over how much I cried over that book. It was brilliantly told, but so sad.

    Great list. I'm going to have to read Never Let Me Go soon.

  21. Thanks Missie! Yes, I was gutted at the end of The Time Traveler's Wife. I'd love to know what you think of Never Let Me Go - warning, it's completely heartbreaking, too!

  22. My top five would be (and in no particular order:

    The probability of Miracles (I sobbed)
    Before I fall
    A walk to Remember
    North of Beautiful

    1. Oh yeah, Forbidden made me feel sick I felt so sad! I remember tearing up in A Walk to Remember too. I'll have to check out the rest.