Tuesday, November 17, 2009

11 books that made me cry



My friend Anna is sick and requested that I recommend a good book, or tell a sad story for her. Instead, I'm going to recommend some good, sad books. Now, I may cry in stressful situations when I'm tired, or pregnant, or recently had a baby, but it's not easy to make me cry for a movie or a book. So these books are exceptional: they all made me cry.


Family Happiness, by Leo Tolstoy. I guess this is actually more of a short story. I try to read it once a year or so and every time I do, my perspective on it is a little bit different. Also every time I read it, I cry.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. Surprise, surprise, this one was actually assigned reading back in AP English. I loved it. And I cried. I still get a weird cyanide-powder aftertaste in my mouth whenever I read it, though.

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. This is a pretty thick book, so it takes a while to get to the crying. In fact, it might actually take two readings to produce tears - it's so much more tragic when you know what is going to happen from the very beginning.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The French Revolution + unrequited love + a noble sacrifice + Dickens = crying. It's like Les Miserables Lite.

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. The actual Les Miserables. My favorite book ever. I cried at different times before and after I had kids. Before kids, I cried the most when Fantine sold her teeth. After kids, I cried when all Cosette had to play with was a tiny metal sword and a scrap of cloth.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. This is a book about World War II, from the German side, narrated by Death. Yeah. I know some people found this book trendy and gimmicky, but I loved it, so there.

A Pair of Blue Eyes, by Thomas Hardy. Really, you could choose most any Hardy book besides Jude the Obscure and have a fairly reasonable expectation of crying during the reading of it.

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mead. Actual tears may not have been produced when I read this, but emotions run high through pretty much the whole thing (fleeing burning Atlanta in the back of a wagon after giving birth to a child, anyone?) so I think it still counts.

Black Hawk Down, by Mark Bowden. One of these things is not like the others, I know. But yes, it made me cry.

The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton. This one produced actual sobs. It is that sad.

Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom. But I only cried because I hated it.

26 comments:

Eevi said...

You hated Tuesdays with Morrie??

Katie said...

I am a little embarrassed to say that I haven't read a single one of those. If my mom reads this post and sees my comment I will likely be in trouble.

Aimee said...

I used to get so embarrassed during D.E.A.R (Drop Everything And Read) in school because often I ended up balling my eyes out. Recently there was a book that really brought the tears, but for the life of me I cannot remember it at the moment. Great books! I haven't read them all so I will have to put them on my list.

Lisa Lou said...

I remember the first book I read and cried through; one of the Little House on the Prairie books when Jack the dog dies. I read Les Miserables last Christmas and yes, cried in that too. It's such a cleansing, satisfying feeling sometimes to have a good cry. Thanks for sharing this list!

Susanne said...

Enjoyed the list. Maybe I'll read some of your recommendations. So you aren't a natural sappy-type, eh? I could gather that from your blog. I wish I were like that.

Bridget said...

Eevi, YES, I hated Tuesdays with Morrie. I understand if some of you wish to cancel your friendship with me. But I think that book illustrates why I don't often cry at books/movies. If I feel like I am being manipulated, it's like my tear valves immediately shut off. I resent being manipulated by cheap sentiment. See also: why a lot of church videos that maybe should make me cry, don't. (But some of them do. Legacy gets me every time even though it is SO cheesy. I am ashamed to admit that.)

Bridget said...

I just realized that Cold Mountain should be on this list, too.

Amanda said...

My roommate in college made a sad songs CD and called it "Arbeit Macht Frei." Most of the songs would make me cry, but the only one I remember specifically was Puff, The Magic Dragon.

Jeremy Palmer said...

Amanda, that CD should make you cry with the title and the issue to which it refers!

Chris said...

A little off topic, but since you brought up church videos...
There was a guy on my mission that put together a video of clips from legacy to play during a special musical number at some mission conference. I realized that the video was basically just a lot of awful events reenacted one after the other and had nothing to do with the hymn. The same effect could have been made by playing videos of sick barfing kittens and clubbed baby seals.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

My list would have Charlotte's Web on it. Even at my age the ending gets me every time.

Manipulation turns me off as well. Recently I read a recommended paperback and right on the back it said something like, "this will story will make you cry." So guess what. I didn't. I read it with my guard up, and more skeptically and critically than I would have w/out that 'warning' and though the story matter was powerful, the author's skill level wasn't good enough to generate deep emotion.

Lark said...

I love your comment about Tuesdays with Morrie. I mistakenly read 5 people you meet in heaven and wanted to gauge my eyes out (did I spell that right?). Anyway, I loved your Pair of Blue Eyes recommendation so I will have to add these books to my goodreads list too! Many of them I have wanted to read but have put it off for some reason or another...perhaps its because I had too many babies too close together and could only handle light reads?

Amanda said...

My mom always read to us growing up and ended up crying a great deal of the time. "The Education of Little Tree" and "Where the Red Fern Grows" are the two I remember the most. Then it became a favorite past time of ours to see if we could find a story or book that would make her cry and we would all laugh at her. I thought it was pretty funny until I became a mother myself and started crying at generic Christmas stories.

JackJen said...

Favorite legacy quote:

"But I can't pull the wagon!"

Runner up:

"Promise to make me laugh?"
"Every day."

(Joe and I recite those ad nauseum...)

Susanne said...

What is this legacy thing y'all are talking about? A Mormon thing or something a general American should know about?


I agree that Charlotte's Web is a tear jerker for me.

Bridget said...

Susanne, it's a movie that dramatizes the history of the early church up until the migration to SLC. And I do mean DRAMATIZES.

Jen, there's nothing worse than "Whenever we meet again it will be Zion to me!!!!!!!!!!!"

Bridget said...

Legacy on IMDB. Does anyone have a better link?

Susanne said...

Thanks, Bridget. I'm getting a good Mormon education from reading your blog. :)

Shannan said...

Angela's Ashes should be on the list. Sob fest.

elliespen said...

I have to agree about Tuesdays with Morrie, although I didn't realize that I hated it at the time. The effect of that book is the same as someone who chops up a bushel of onions right under your nose: yes, you're crying, but those aren't real tears.

And also Amen to the House of Mirth. (And Legacy. That is the exact moment when the tears start. Oh, the shame.)

Eevi said...

So I liked TUesday with Morrie but maybe I will have to go back and read it now. Or maybe I am just not as intellectually in tune as you are and I didn't mind being manipulated. Though I don't think I cried. Does that make it better?:)

Jessie said...

I COMPLETELY agree with your feelings on books and/or movies manipulating using cheap sentiment. But oh my gosh, yes, Legacy. The part where she's praying over her sick ox? Gets me every time.

Just last week I bawled myself to sleep after reading the conclusion to Jane Eyre (again). But those are happy tears.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Actually, the part where she prays over her sick ox really happened. Much of that movie is based on real pioneer experiences all rolled into one story. Mary Fielding Smith (widow of Hyrum) prayed over her sick ox on the way west. If the beast hadn't been healed they would have had to leave their wagon on the plains. Legacy is over-dramatized but it does tell one aspect of the pioneer story succinctly.

Kristen said...

I've read several cryers this year (or perhaps I'm just really sensitive):

Desperate Passage -Ethan Rarick
Left to Tell -Immaculee Ilibagiza (AMAZING)
Sarah's Key -Tatiana de Rosnay (Not the greatest book, but tragic scenes nonetheless)
Lovely Bones -Alice Sebold (I just watched the trailer and it looks like the movie will be better than the book)

Teresa Jane said...

Bridget, crying in Legacy is not near as embarrassing as crying in Saturday's Warrior. Now do you feel better? And did you not cry in Where the Red Fern Grows?

Anonymous said...

It is extremely interesting for me to read that blog. Thank you for it. I like such themes and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

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