Tear-stained Pages: Books That Make Me Cry

Anyone who knows me in real life will know that crying is a big part of my day-to-day life, though much of it doesn’t come from real life situations. Instead, my imagination pulls out worst case scenarios and makes problems out of thin air. I think this is why I tend to cry more at books than I do at movies. Seeing something traumatic or shocking play out on screen leaves no room for ambiguity, no space for interpretation. One Day by David Nicholls, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky are all examples of this: on screen, the stark reality of each of the plot twists in these stories hits you like a bus, but you immediately move past it into the next scene. When reading the texts, however, one can re-read, ponder and imagine the intricacies of the story changing each time you pore over the words. 

I would personally recommend any of these if you’re looking for a good cry, but there are so many books which elicit these passionate reactions from their readers, some of which have gained specific reputations for doing so. Before The Fault in our Stars, there was Little Women, Angela’s Ashes or My Sister’s Keeper. Even children’s books can surprise you, with classics such as What Katy Did or A Little Princess exploring deep themes and very adult concepts, which can still produce a tear or two. It would be wrong of me to write this list and not talk about Jacqueline Wilson: if you can make it through Vicky Angel or The Illustrated Mum without a tear, I’d love to know your secrets.

The most recent book which made me cry, however, was an autobiography- and not even for the reasons you might expect. Theroux the Keyhole, from everyone’s favourite TikTok sensation and documentary star Louis Theroux, is a diary detailing the descent into lockdown and the takeover of Covid-19 from a filmmaker’s perspective: the cancellations, changing of plans and having to rethink how our day to day lives function. I, along with many others I think, have spent two years attempting to repress these changes and the impact they had on every aspect of my life, so to find them so matter-of-factly described on these pages had me in tears after about five minutes of reading. Probably best saved for another day.

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Emily Kelly

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May 2022
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