The Reading Life: Weepers

Happy Spring! Now here’s some books that always make me cry.

What’s the attraction to sad books? And not just sad books, but tragic books, gloriously happy books, depressing books, etc.? Maybe sometimes we all need a good cry, and this is one way of going about it.

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

I’m fairly convinced that if you don’t cry at the end of this book, you are a cold, unfeeling robot. Although the plot’s a little dated (ooh, a girl who likes to run! How novel!), the story is still heart-wrenching. Jess is a boy living in poverty with his blue-collar family; they don’t appreciate his artistic talents. Jess is depressed and angry about his family’s life. Leslie moves to town, and she’s like a breath of fresh, weird air. Jess and Leslie become best friends, but since it’s on a list of really sad books, nothing lasts forever.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I haven’t read this book for a few years, because the last time I read it, I could not function for a week. It might be one of those melancholy angsty books that only really hits young adults, but I’m not sure. Perks takes place in the early 1990s, so anyone who went through high school then could probably relate. It’s about Charlie, a boy who has issues, to put it mildly. He starts high school and joins up with a really cool crowd: the music-loving kids. In fact, Charlie makes a playlist at one point that I highly recommend. I made it while reading the book for the first time, and had it on repeat for the rest of my time in Charlie’s world. (And that might be part of the reason the book hit me so hard.) It’s tragic and uplifting at the same time; to me, it’s kind of like the literary equivalent of Edward Scissorhands.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

This isn’t really a “sad” book, but it always, always makes me cry. Lily is growing up in South Carolina in 1964 with an abusive father and a mother that she accidentally killed. She and her father’s housekeeper run away to find a better life, and they do, with a kind family of female African-American beekeepers. This is a glorious book that makes you want to eat lots of honey and celebrate life. It always makes me cry because the ending is kind of frustrating and wonderful at the same time. This is a “good cry” kind of book.

The Green Mile by Stephen King

I know, I know, some day I’ll shut up about Stephen King, but that day has not yet come to pass. This is the book I always recommend to people who have never read Stephen King, and say they “hate scary books.” The Green Mile contains some supernatural elements, but it’s mostly a story about capital punishment and justice. The South in the 1930s was not a good place or time to be a black man wrongly accused of murdering a child. It’s a long, yet rewarding read that will make you think about life and living. The movie is also amazing and makes me sob.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Mark Haddon’s book has an interesting history, from a book nerd perspective. In the United Kingdom, where it originates, it’s published as a young adult title. In the United States, it’s published as an adult title. It’s told by Christopher, an autistic English teenager who processes the world much differently than other people. He decides to solve a neighborhood mystery, and ends up solving something much more important. This book makes me think about the future and how lucky I am to be who I am.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I adore Markus Zusak. He wrote I Am the Messenger, which is another fantastic book that will make you cry with happiness. The Book Thief will make you cry for other reasons: it’s about the Holocaust, and how physically owning books can get someone through the most difficult time of their life. The narrator is Death, and that adds some interesting twists into the mix. Read with tissues.

The Magician's Elephant

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

This is a truly lovely book. Kate DiCamillo also wrote The Tale of Despereaux, and she’s excellent at conveying animals’ emotions. In The Magician’s Elephant, a boy looks for his sister by going to a fortune teller. The fortune teller sees that an elephant will bring the two siblings together, but the boy has never seen an elephant. He doesn’t know what to think. A wonderfully disconnected series of events follows, and the last chapters made me so happy about life that I cried until the end of the book. You will feel connected to the people around you.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

When things come full-circle, it’s both satisfying and devastating. While some people didn’t like the last chapter of the last Harry Potter book, I smiled through my tears. Then I curled up in a ball and cried for a long time until my boyfriend called me and said, “Did you finish it?” I’m pretty sure I wailed for the first time ever. This book isn’t really inherently sad (well, parts of it are); it’s sad because it’s the end.

What books make you cry with joy? With sadness? Let us know in the comments!


About Amanda K

Amanda K holds a master's degree in Library and Information Studies. She's a housewife, a Planned Parenthood volunteer, a sewist, and an aspiring gourmet home cook. View all posts by Amanda K

2 responses to “The Reading Life: Weepers

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    Hi, This is an excellent article, but I was wondering how to suscribe to the RSS feed?

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