Monday, June 11, 2012

Confessions of a Reader Who Bawls over Books

Last week I admitted on Twitter that I broke into tears when I read the last lines of Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to my seven-year-old son. Two fellow 2013 debut YA novelists, Elsie Chapman (Dualed) and Alison Cherry (Red), joined in on the conversation, and it was determined I was the wimpiest one of the group when it came to books and crying. Elsie suggested I blog about which books make me cry the most and give them tissue ratings for the amounts of tears they produced. Therefore, I present to you…

by Cat Winters 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee (3 out of 5 tissues)

Lee's novel is the first time I can remember crying over a book. When I was nine, I was bored one day and looking for something to read. Aware I was an advanced reader in need of a challenge, my dad pulled his old 1960s copy of To Kill a Mockingbird off the shelf and handed it to me.

I didn't shed a single tear until I came to the very last line: "[Atticus] would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning." I don't know if it was the sadness of reaching the end of an amazing book that got me, or if I was getting emotional about the bonds between Scout, Attitcus, and Jem. But I cried. And I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME I come to that final line in the novel—and when I hear it spoken in the movie. Moreover, I've tended to get misty eyed over the last lines of every superb book I've read since that moment.

CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E.B. White (5 out of 5 tissues)
I think this book's sob factor needs no explanation, unless you are a robot.
ANNE FRANK: THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by Anne Frank (5 out of 5 tissues) 

Another book that pulled at my heartstrings during childhood. A prime example why: "…in spite of everything I still believe people are really good at heart." If a girl hiding from murderous Nazis could write a line like that, who was I to view my parents as tyrants for making me do the dishes? Don't even get me started about the way the diary simply ends without Anne getting a chance to truly finish it.

GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU by Sam McBratney (3 out of 5 tissues) 

I'm sure I must have cried over many other books between childhood and adulthood, but I didn't start really losing it until I became a mom and began reading books out loud to my kids. When my children were babies, Guess How Much I Love You was a particularly difficult one for me to get through without my voice breaking, especially whenever I arrived at the words, "I love you right up to the moonand back." *gulp* My kids have probably learned throughout the years that whenever Mom stops and looks like she's lost her place on the page, she's really just trying to regain her composure and keep from blubbering.

THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss (4 out of 5 tissues)

It takes just one word for this book to bring me to tears: "UNLESS." Maybe it's because Dr. Seuss was able to wrap up our eternal hope for a better world in just six letters, but I always have to pause before I read that word out loud in this story.

INKHEART by Cornelia Funke (5 out of 5 tissues)

I read this children's fantasy novel to my daughter a few years ago, and I literally broke into hysterics during one scene and handed her the book so she could read it to me. Without giving away too many spoilers, the main character, Meggie Folchart, reunites with someone who means the world to her, and I just could not read about their emotional moment without becoming a wreck. My husband looked at me as if I were insane.

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak (5 out of 5 tissues) 

It would ruin the ending if I revealed why this book made me bawl, but if you've already read it, you know exactly what I mean. That kiss, especially. Oh, that kiss.

THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick (3 out of 5 tissues) 

I'm a sucker for stories about people who rediscover themselves later in life. For example, I still can't sit through the movie Babe without crying over Farmer Hoggett's "That'll do pig; that'll do" line (the cinematic equivalent of "UNLESS"). I read Hugo out loud to my son on an airplane, and I had to do the pause-and-pretend-you've-lost-your-place move quite a bit so other passengers wouldn't hear me sobbing. I'd also place Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree into this same category of getting touched by the anguish old age and a life passing by.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green (5 out of 5 tissues) 

Tears streamed down my face with such violence when I was reading the end of this novel that I tripped over my dog on my way to the Kleenex box. The dog was fine, and I recovered physically, but Green emotionally punched me in the gut through his characters. Plus he managed to incorporate Anne Frank into one crucial scene! Nicely played, Mr. Green. Nicely played.

What about you? Which books make you bawl?


Elsie Chapman said...

Okay, I admit The Book Thief did make me sad. That is an incredible book and I can't believe it slipped my mind. But otherwise, I stay pretty dry eyed! 2 tissues out of 5.

Cat Winters said...

Getting emotional over THE BOOK THIEF redeems you, Elsie. You're not as coldhearted as you let on. ;)

Anonymous said...

When I was teaching Kindergarten, I read Love You Forever to my students. I made the mistake of not previewing the book before I read it. I had to walk away from the kids for a moment to compose myself.

Cat Winters said...

I had to look up which book that was, Carrie, and guess what? I just cried reading the danged synopsis over at Wikipedia! I don't think we own that one, but I know I've read it to at least one of the kids and bawled. I don't blame you for needing to walk away to compose yourself!

Emma Pass said...

I rarely full-on cry over a book, but I often get lump-in-throat moments. The end of Maggie Steifvater's SHIVER was one, along with Sally Nicholl's WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER, and as for Philip Pullman's THE AMBER SPYGLASS… okay, maybe I did cry a little bit over a certain part of that!

Cat Winters said...

Thanks for stopping by, Emma! I've only read SHIVER in that group, and I can understand the lump-in-the-throat moment. It sounds like even the bravest readers have one or two books that get those tear ducts working. :)

RegencyEmma. said...

I completely bawled my eyes out at Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. Brilliant book. Makes me emotional just thinking about it.

Cat Winters said...

That's a Bronte book I haven't yet read. The idea of it stirring up that much emotion has me intrigued! I'm heading over to put it on my GoodReads to-read shelf right now. Thanks for sharing, Emma!

Ara Burklund said...

Love You Forever is my worst crier. Just thinking about the page where the old-lady mom has the ladder strapped to her car roof is making me teary-eyed right now!

Cat Winters said...

I have to wonder if authors are writing some of these books specifically to make people cry. The Love You Forever author had to know the book would bring parents to tears. Then again, it may have been based on a personal experience, which would add yet another heart-wrenching aspect to that book...

BR Myers said...

I totally ugly cried at the end of The Amber Spyglass.

Cat Winters said...

That's another one I haven't read. Do you think the tears were for the ending of the series, or did Philip Pullman write a punch-in-the-emotional-gut finale?