This was originally going to be a post in which I said which books made me cry the most. I just couldn’t do it. But I could figure out how they made me cry, and categorize them!
I couldn’t choose because how do you choose between your favourites? How do you compare two different crying experiences? I refuse pick favourites. It would hurt them. They may know, instinctually, but I won’t be the one to tell my favourite series that they just aren’t good enough.
How do you count tears? Do you count by time spent crying? Do you count by tissues used? Or do you count by quality of tears? That slow rolling leak that just won’t stop, or the ones where you can’t see through the tears, or the ones where you just set the book down because you’re holding yourself trying to make the pain stop? Do you instead go by how devastated you feel while reading, or how long it takes you to get over your depression? There are so many options.
I’m a connoisseur of pain, and this is my house.
(As you might suspect, this post can be full of spoilers. I’m going to be as careful of them as possible and just not name names much. A list is at the bottom.)
What are some of your favourite books to cry to? Where do they fall on the crying spectrum?
Section One: The Death of a Loved One
The easiest way to make me cry is to kill someone I love, or make me think they are dead. I have lost mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. I’ve lost lovers, husbands and wives, and even the occasional soulmate. Or just a close friend. I’ve even suffered the loss of beloved masters and lieges. But the worst is the children I’ve lost. So many children. Adult children, young children, even children who weren’t yet born.
Subsection A: The Death of the Main Character
There is a rarer, but still possible, subsection where the main character dies. They either die during the course of the series, and come back, or they die at the end and stay dead. And it always, always hurts.
Section Two: Grinding Down the Main Character
Next easiest way to make me cry is just heap a whole bunch of shit on the main character, all the time. Easy enough, but there are so many ways it can happen! And if all three happen in the same book or series, the author may be a god (coughHobbcough).
Subsection A: Torture
The easiest way to do this is torture. Simple as that. Torture the main character, either physically, mentally, spiritually or some combination. Preferably all. (That sounds a bit mean, doesn’t it?) I have a distressing amount of series that torture people I love. However, this doesn’t always lead to tears! How the author handles the aftermath of the torture is just as important as the event itself! That is when most of the tears flow, even.
Subsection B: Take Away Their Choices
Next up is to just take away all the choices of the main character through whatever means necessary. It can be through coercion or through love. It can be by whatever means necessary (sometimes even through torture, but also through magical means and even grooming). It just has to be that the MC has to be boxed in. Just have to give them no way to go but forward, even if they don’t want to.
Subsection C: Give Us No Hope
Lastly, closely tied to taking away choices, is just to give no hope. Either to me, the reader, or to the main characters themselves. Make it impossible to go any way but further. Make us want it all to just be over. Give us no chance of a happily ever after. Take away our dreams.
Section Three: The Choices of the Main Character
Subsection A: They Leave
I am an easy crier, this section shows it because it makes me cry my eyes out. The main character leaves someplace they’re happy, someplace they’re loved, for something else. Either because they had to (because their choices were taken away, damnit!), or because they thought they needed to. And it slays me.
Subsection B: Because They’re Stupid
These are the main characters who make my heart bleed for them, because they just cannot make a good decision. They constantly choose to make life harder for themselves. Sometimes they’re trapped in a series of bad decisions that keep getting worse. But most of the time they believe they deserve it. Don’t believe it! You don’t deserve it! You deserve good things! 😭
Subsection C: They Have to Make Some Hard Choices
Lastly there are the Main Characters who have to make hard choices. They are set into positions of great power making decisions. And those decisions break them. They know it is the best outcome, and it still breaks them. And it breaks me, too.
Section Four: Happiness
To date, there is only one book to ever make me cry from happiness. The most rare of them all, this book took me down into depression and then rose me out so fast I couldn’t contain the emotion and cried. I’ve been chasing this ever since.
So what are some examples of books that made me cry my eyes out? Well, I won’t tell you how where they place on the crying spectrum, you’ll just have to guess, or read and find out for yourself. However here is a list, with a series from every section except section four, in no particular order:
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Half Bad by Sally Green
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Newsflesh by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Theirs Not to Reason Why by Jean Johnson
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane