Friday, October 10, 2008

A love letter to books that made me weep

I mentioned not too long ago that Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games was the first book in a while that made me all out weep. And we were talking about sad books in the comments on Wednesday's post about Beth Kephart's Nothing but Ghosts. There are lots of books that try (unsuccessfully) to tug at my heartstrings (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is one that comes to mind) but only a few that engage me so much and involve me so much emotionally that the tears just flow. Here are a few of them (all five star picks AND award winners).

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
This is the story of Kivrin, a history student in 2048 who is transported to an English village in the 14th century on the eve of the Black Death. Meanwhile, there is an epidemic going on in the 21st century which may leave Kivrin stranded in time. Kivrin is taken in by a “contemp” family and learns firsthand more than she ever wanted to know about the plague. I’ve read this at least 5 times, and it never fails to make me cry. (Hugo and Nebula Awards)




Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The less you know about this book going in, the better. All I knew when I started reading was that it took place at Hailsham, an elite school in the English countryside, where the pupils are told they are special. How special is something both they and the reader discover during the course of this heartbreaking dystopia. (Booker Prize Shortlist)






Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
This is “Stockholm Syndrome” at its’ best. When a birthday party to honor a visiting Japanese industrialist is stormed by a ragtag band of terrorists in an unnamed South American country, a group of over 50 people, including a world-renowned soprano is taken hostage. But as the days, weeks, months go by, captors and hostages (and the reader) begin to form unlikely bonds. (PEN/Faulkner Award)





The Tiger Rising by Kate Dicamillo
In this middle grade novella (and National Book Award finalist), 12-year-old Rob Horton finds a caged tiger in behind the run down motel he lives in with his father since his mother’s death. It’s a story about coming to terms with grief and being honest with yourself. It touched me deeply.







The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Narrated by death, this touching, original, and powerful novel is set in Nazi Germany, but with a focus on the hardships of ordinary Germans. It’s the story of Liesel who learns to read as a teen and discovers the power that books have to feed the soul. (Printz Honor Book)







So tell me, what books made you weep? I need some good suggestions!

35 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I'll have to be careful with those. I'm very emotional and can cry at a TV commercial, so quite a few books make me weepy.

Lenore said...

Hey, TV commercials can make me tear up too, but for some reason, books have to try harder.

Gabbi said...

The Tiger Rising is a beautiful read for any age. I absolutely loved it.

Alea said...

Oooh this is a good list. I remember reading the back of Never Let Me Go and thinking, well that didn't tell me much! Maybe that's a good thing! I got The Book Thief from bookmooch, it does sound good!

I can't think of any books that made me weepy of the top of my head, I can think of movies though...

Fyrefly said...

The Book Thief, definitely. The Time Traveler's Wife had me in sloppy sobby tears for at least the last 45 minutes (on audiobook). The Amber Spyglass (the last book of the His Dark Materials trilogy) by Philip Pullman, My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, Looking for Alaska by John Green, and several of the Harry Potter books all got me at least once.

I think I cry more easily at audiobooks than with paper books. I wonder why?

Serena said...

I agree with your pick, The Book Thief!

allisonmariecat said...

Ooh, I must move The Book Thief up in the queue.

Time Traveler's Wife, definitely. The last Harry Potter (actually, at least a few of them). Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde (the fourth Thursday Next novel)--when everything came together at the end, I just sobbed. Recently, The Empress of Weehawken by Irene Dische got me. I know there are others, but those stand out in my mind.

Lenore said...

gabbi - YES!

Alea - You MUST read Never Let Me Go. I mean, I know with your TBR you won't get around to it for a couple of years...but maybe it can cut in line?

fyrefly - Time Traveler's Wife was one I almost chose for my top 5. Very moving. I have Looking for Alaska coming up.

serena - isn't it just lovely?

alison - OMG, that scene you're talking about in Something Rotten got to me too. It is such a surprise and so perfect. Empress of Weehawken is on my wishlist!

Alea said...

If you say so I may buy it this weekend... no i shouldn't! But maybe I will anyways! :D

Lenore said...

alea - ha! I'll be looking for it in your bookpile posts :)

Alea said...

Yeah we'll see how much I am able to hold back, and for how long!

PJ Hoover said...

Second for The Time Traveler's Wife. And I also loved Never Let me Go though I kept wondering why the characters just stuck around through it all. And ditto on Amber Spyglass.
Have a great weekend!

Nymeth said...

The Book Thief, yes. More recently, Nation by Terry Pratchett. Others include The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (I cried non-stop for the last 50 pages), Norwegian Wood by Murakami, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, Brief Lives and Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman...and I could go on. I tear up really easily with both books and movies.

Lenore said...

Thanks PJ - I figured it was because they'd been brainwashed not to, which made it even sadder

nymeth - all excellent choices that I've either read or have on my shelf TBR (strangely enough!) - I guess I like the weepers more than I thought!

Carol said...

I haven't read none of those books, but Never Let me go sounds intriguing. I might check it out soon. :)

Jeane said...

I can't remember the last time a book made me weep. Both Doomsday Book and Never Let Me Go are very good. I've got Tiger Rising on my nightstand.

Ladytink_534 said...

I can't remember the last book that made me cry... oh wait, I think it might have been that one Harry Potter book. I know I read Robin Hood as a kid and that made me cry, oh and Little Women too.

Daniel said...

the shortstories from wolfgang borchert are great, if you want to be miserable

ipgirl said...

Doomsday Book! I remember that so well, how horrible the end was, how much I felt for Kivrin. It took a while get myself back from the edge on that one.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was the most recent book that made me cry.
Other books that made me cry: Stone Diaries, A Certain Slant of Light, The Road, Before I Die

Daniel said...

Carol - you really should!

Jeane - hope you like it :)

ladytink - little women, totally a weeper.

daniel - thanks for the tip ;)

ipgirl - I've got the Stone Diaries coming up, didn't know that it was so sad though! Going to look into your other suggestions, thanks!

Lenore said...

Ummm...that last comment was from me. Didn't realize that Daniel had signed into my computer...

Dawn said...

*Bel Canto* is the book that came to mind when I started reading your post (like bermudaonion,I'll cry at a McDonald's or Hallmark commercial!)

I just re-read/reviewed *Bel Canto* last week. It was as satisfying (and weepy) the second time around!

Lisa said...

How odd! I've only read one of those (Bel Canto) and it didn't make me cry. However:

- The Time Traveler's Wife, even though I had long before figured out what would happen.
- The Lord of the Rings series - I cry every time Boromir and Theoden die, and when Frodo sails West. Did the same in the theater.
- The Good Thief had me all sniffly, which was annoying because I was sitting in a coffee shop, waiting for a friend.

Alea said...

Lenore- Went to the bookstore, read the first paragraph of Never Let Me Go and bought it! I also really wanted to get Slam by Nick Hornby, but one of my defenses again myself is to only buy books with a coupon so one book a week!

keri mikulski :) said...

Hmm.. I remember getting emotional when I read MISSING MAY and CHARLOTTE'S WEB. Great topic. I'm jotting down your suggestions. Thanks.

Lenore said...

dawn - great minds think alike :)

lisa - ooh! I have the Good Thief coming up too (I seem to have a lot of books coming up...)

alea - YAY!!

keri - Charlotte's Web is a great one. Will check out Missing May. Thanks!

Book Zombie (Joanne) said...

Not too many have ever made me outright sob, but a few have gotten me teary with a horrible clenching in my chest. The Book Thief, The Gargoyle, Time Travelers Wife, Lovely Bones and Marley & Me have all gotten me pretty emotional. One of Rosamunde Pilchers books (Shell Seekers I think) had me absolutely bawling when I was pregnant.

The Two Chicks said...

Definitely Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix -when Neville is visiting his parents at St. Mungos and it's mentioned that he puts the candy wrapper in his pocket. I sobbed! I was working at a radio station at the time and had to read the news, which was interesting, trying to calm down enough in order to sound sane.

avisannschild said...

What a great post, Lenore! My partner calls me a "weeper," because like Bermuda Onion, I can cry at TV commercials (which can be embarrassing!). Funnily enough, though, I have trouble remembering which books have made me cry. You've made me want to reread Doomsday, for example, because I don't even remember anything weep-worthy in that book... OK, I don't really remember the book at all! But I have to agree with those who mentioned The Time Traveler's Wife. That one really got me.

Lenore said...

Book Zombie - I have the Gargoyle, just need to get to it.

two chicks - Can't say I know what you are talking about, but I know the feeling!

avis - You have to go back and reread Doomsday. You must!

Beth Kephart said...

Oh my goodness. Every single book here is a favorite of mine — The Tiger Rising was a NBA selection the year I judged and ... well, I could go on.

Amazingly good taste, Lenore.

(and fun to see your piece on Jill's book!)

Lenore said...

Beth - That's so cool!

avisannschild said...

Another one to add to the list is The Heretic's Daughter, which I just finished the day before yesterday. I loved loved loved it.

Andi said...

Little Women makes me cry every time. :(

Lu @ Regular Rumination said...

Ooh Bel Canto! Yes! That book definitely made me cry.