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Books That Make You (Ugly) Cry

Books are one of the greatest way to vicariously feel extremes of emotion – extreme happiness, extreme sadness, rage and joy and grief. Truly, there's something refreshing about a good, media-driven cry.
this bear makes me want to cry.

 I'm less crazy about the deliberate tearjerkers – you know, the movie The Notebook kind. Sometimes those make me feel a little dirty afterward. Like The Art of Racing in the Rain. I knew I was being emotionally manipulated from page one, but as the end came around, I was still a sloppy, tearful mess. (On an airplane.)

But plenty of my favorite books drove me to tears, often unexpectedly. Like Lolita – the end just kills me. Watership Down makes me cry every time. Jellicoe Road evoked quiet tears. Feed totally gutted me, and re-guts me on every reread. (ow.)

And oh man, A Song of Ice and Fire – I've only read the first three, but if you have too, you know the exact scenes that wrecked me. The Road was a slow, lovely torture, and Atonement made me feel like I was hit by a bus.

Don't you LOVE that feeling?

Along with Jellicoe Road and Feed, plenty of other YA and MG books have made me cry, or even sob. A Monster Calls. Wonder. Where She Went. A Certain Slant of Light. The Fault in Our Stars. The end of The Scorpio Races definitely got me. The Knife of Never Letting Go. When You Reach Me. Wringer. The Book Thief. How I Live Now. Tender Morsels. Living Dead Girl.

Apparently lots of books make me want to cry. 

Seriously, I sort of want to cry even thinking about these. Particularly the last two.

What books made you tear up, sob or ugly cry?

(No spoilers, please!)

bear photo credit GiniMiniGi

Kirsten Hubbard

Kirsten is the author of Like Mandarin, Wanderlove, and the middle grade novel Watch the Sky.

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  1. ROOM. There are no words to describe how that book affected me.

    1. Agree! I got so much more from that book than I ever imagined.

  2. This may seem like a weird answer, but the ending of Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood made me sob uncontrollably...

  3. Great topic, Kristen! Too many books to choose from, but the first that comes to mind is A Separate Peace. Oh, Finny! I've read this book so many times, and it STILL makes me sob.

  4. I sobbed while reading 'Umbrella Summer' by Lisa Graff on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix. Seriously well-written.

  5. If I Stay, Stolen, My Sister's Keeper, and Forever all ripped my heart out and made me bawl like a baby.

  6. I have to say that I cried at reading the end of Devil Wears Prada, so I tend to avoid anything that looks like it's supposed to be even slightly tear-jerky. A lot of times it does just feel like manipulation, which is a shitty thing to do to an innocent reader. I don't like the way it feels. The Book Thief though deserved tears. And I gave them.

  7. The Lock Artist made me cry a little bit. Not that it was a tearjerker, it just really caught me on an emotional level. And something that was revealed close to the end put me on that level.

    I'm hearing a lot about The Book Theif. It's on my shelf, waiting to be read, and now I'm wondering what makes it cause tears.

  8. So many books make me cry, but I absolutely break down (in three different places) every single time I read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.

  9. Oh my gosh, Becca, you HAVE to read The Book Thief, but cherish those moments spent reading: you only get to read it for the first time once.

    TFiOS killed me and Looking For Alaska also did, but in a more existential way. I had to mourn the book for about a week afterward.

    Also, Le Petit Prince. The older I get, the more melancholic it makes me.

    Now I'm all sad.

  10. Mine are pretty predictable...The Fault in Our Stars, Little Women, Noughts and Crosses...I am sure there are others but I've blocked them out.

  11. I'm not really a crier in real life, but some books just really know how to make me sob. Anything by Melina Marchetta will do it, Peace Like a River does it every time (and I've read it so many times I've lost count), and I even cried at that one scene in Insurgent that I can't tell you about because it'd spoil it for anyone who hasn't had the blessed opportunity to read it yet.

  12. "Sarah's Key" and "Shake Hands with the Devil"

  13. I'll happily be the first to say Mockingjay absolutely ripped my heart out. My breakdown was so bad that my mom was actually concerned about me. Put me in a deep depression for three full days, post-read.

    The Fault in Our Stars was also gut-wrenching, but in a totally different way.

    I've yet to read The Book Thief, but I guess I'll have to pull it off my shelf and give it a shot now. :)

  14. Oh my gosh! I totally forgot The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. Read it in 5th grade with my mom. We both sat there sobbing so hard that it took us HOURS to read the last few pages.

  15. The last couple of chapters of Little Britches by Ralph Moody. Hands down IMPOSSIBLE to get through, especially if you're reading it aloud.

    I've turned into such a sap, I can't even read the Bible without getting choked up. The story of Abraham giving Issac as an offering just about did me in. Sheesh.

    A really sad book knocks me flat out. But only if it's done right! I cry more over happy endings than sad ones. Sad ones I just sit there going, "Really? The dog dies, the mom leaves, the girlfriend breaks up with him, and he dies old and alone? Really?" I haven't read any books recently that really nailed me, but I try to avoid real tear-jerkers because I cry so easily anyway.

  16. Many of the books that I consider my favorites are the ones that made me cry the hardest. Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess tops the list. Mindi Scott's Freefall really did a number on me. There is a specific scene where a character is crying in a stairwell and just thinking about it and what the character was experiencing in that moment brings tears to my eyes. Most recently (like last week) Saving June by Hannah Harrington brought me to tears. The funny thing is, I seek out these books. I want to read them. I prefer to read them. And I can't forget Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I stayed up really late reading that one, cried myself to sleep, woke up and then cried some more.

  17. So many books have made me cry! I'd say the latest one I've read that did it was Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

  18. Oh man, The Book Thief destroyed me . . . in a library. (I'd been assigned it for a class, and the only copy available was in-library-use only.)

  19. I've never cried from a book or movie, but The Fault in Our Stars definitely brought me close (I was so mad--I accidentally read a spoiler in the Youtube comments of John's video "there will be no spoilers" [I know, ironic] that said the ending, straight out. That might have been one of the reasons I wasn't bawling.).
    Also, whenever I see tumblr gifs from the first two series of Doctor Who, with Rose and the doctor, I have all the feels.

    ~Riv Re
    Riv Reads

  20. The scene near the end of MOCKINGJAY with the cat. (If you've read it, you know what I mean.) I was already on the verge of a breakdown for 50% of that book, but that scene with the cat just shattered me. I had to take some time to calm down enough to breathe.
    (It didn't help that my cat was sleeping at the end of my bed while I was reading that part.)

    After I finished reading that book, I had to go and read something that was guaranteed to make me laugh. So I read some Lemony Snicket.

    Also THAT SCENE in THE HUNGER GAMES. I stared reading it and began to quietly cry. I continued reading, and cried some more, and some more- the crying growing louder and more intense. When I finished that chapter, I just sat on my bed, sobbing, for about 10 minutes.


  21. Oddly enough the first book to make me actually cry was THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner. I must have been really emotional at that point in time. I ended up in tears twice when I read MOCKINGJAY, but I think my most justified sob session was the last scene of OKAY FOR NOW. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. Oh, and KIRA KIRA by Cynthia Kadohata (sp?). Favorite book of mine as a child. I re-read it a couple years ago forgetting how sad it was.

    WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, MY SISTER'S KEEPER by Jodi Piccoult, MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool, BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver, and 13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher are all the books I can think of off the top of my head that made me tear up a bit, but not cry although I wanted to. I don't know, I guess I'm just not very emotional.

  22. I usually only cry when I'm angry at the book... Like in Bluestar's Prophecy (first thing I thought of; it's about a cat and her surprisingly tragic life). I cried so much. But mostly because everyone was treating her like a fragile little glass bird... Not because her mom died or her sister died or her kitten died and she had to abandon the other two.

  23. I like it when a book makes my emotions surface. It's when I know the book was good because I FELT for the characters. There haven't been too many YA books that have brought on that kind of emotion, but Harry Potter was a big one for me. **SPOILER ALERT** I threw the book across the room when Sirius died (no joke), bawled when we lost Dumbledore, and wanted to smack J.K. Rowling at the end for many reasons. That one always comes to mind when people talk about books that invoke emotion.

  24. Surprising weepers include:
    - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (amazing book!)
    - 13 Reasons Why (obviously)
    - Sisterhood Everlasting (This one totally side-swiped me! It was like all of my later teenage years came crashing down!)

  25. I don't know if I've ever cried reading a book... I just don't show that kind of emotion in writing.

    Well... not entirely true. I cried during a book I WROTE. >> But that's different.

    Interesting that you cite "The Road" as a crier... I personally hated that book, mainly because I dislike it when authors purposefully use poor grammar or neglect punctuation. It's only a way to get attention.

  26. THE BOOK THIEF slayed me, and so did MOCKINGJAY. I cried when SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER Hedwig died. Actually dying animals tend to get more than people.

  27. The Fault In Our Stars .Trust me you will be laughing then you will choke on your tears then you will be laughing and crying at the same time and you will not be able to stop crying.This book is so empowering and healing for your heart.You have to read it.It is by John Green

  28. All the Bright Places
    The Fault in Our Stars
    Clockwork Princess
    Flowers for Algernon
    And I'm a human robot- I don't usually cry while reading but those books tore my heart into pieces 😭😭😭


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Item Reviewed: Books That Make You (Ugly) Cry Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kirsten Hubbard