Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sunday Salon

The Sunday

Trish at Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin', has a wonderful post here
which is one I've often thought of writing about. What books made you cry? Funnily enough, two of the recent horror books I've read made me cry:
1. Lonely Werewolf Girl
2. The Woman in Black

and both times, I actually wept, didn't just feel a tear form in my eye. I've been a lonely teenager, so lonely when I escaped from my home that I wanted to die (Lonely Werewolf Girl), and I've felt shock and loss so deep that it could hardly be processed (The Woman in Black) though thankfully, not haunted by anything like that spectre!

So this leads me to ask you on this Sunday Salon: what books have made you cry? and did you like them the more because they made you feel, or did you push them away?

I have to confess here that I cry a lot. I cry when I get mad, when I miss buses, when things are out of control, when I'm pmsing I cry at commercials (especially the Mormon ones that thankfully have stopped airing now, it was so embarrassing!), and I have always, always cried while reading books. But does this make it a good story?

I think it does. I think that if you or I, the reader, responds to a story from such a deep level that we cry, then it means the story is telling some truth that we recognize. I'm not the only one who has ever felt lonely or grief; the thrill of reading the above novels for me is being recognized. It's not easy to remember that anguish, but it's human, and it's part of what made me me, and now Kalix and her story are also part of my experience. I think when we cry or laugh, or in some way are deeply moved by a book, it does become part of our selves.

So here are some of the books that have gone into my reading life, by which I have been moved and shaped:
1. Anne of Green Gables, and right through the entire 8 books of the series. Every one had a moment or two that had me wiping away tears. Most memorable? When Anne is about to go back to the orphanage, when Matthew dies, when Walter dies, when Rilla stutters at the very end of the final book, Rilla of Ingleside.
2.The Diary of Anne Frank. She was and is my heroine, and always will be.
These two books single-handedly got me through my teen years, which like everyone else's, was the worst in the world.
3. Little House on the Prairie - somewhere in this series, I cried, at least twice - once when they think Alonzo is dead, and once with one of Laura's sisters.
4. Robin Hobb - The Farseer Trilogy, and Tawny Man Trilogy. She can make me cry so easily!!
5. Doomsday Book (Connie Willis). One of the best time-travel books ever, and the ending made me realize what life in the middle ages was really like, and it was so real I cried.
6.anything by Connie Willis - every single book by her has made me cry. She writes about humans in science fiction society, and I think she is one of the most under-rated writers in the US. Only the SF world seems to be recognizing her so far.
7.Jasper Fforde: every book in the Thursday Next series also has a moment of tears. How can it not, when her husband doesn't exist, her father may or may not be dead as he time travels, as she deals with tavelling between books with heroism and tries to remember who she is.
8. Forty Words for Sorrow - Giles Blunt
9. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
10. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L'Engle
11. Suite Francaise

Well, that's just the beginning.....I don't cry at every book! But I have to confess also that once upon a time in my reading life when I was 13, I read a whole bunch of Harlequin romances, and the really good ones would always have me upset when the vixen would undermine the good heroine girl...I can't say I always wept, but sometimes I did.

I also cry at news stories, so I think it's me. But in my world, a writer is doing something right if I have been moved. I must have been very lonely at times if a moment of recognition can still make me cry. Or, I prefer to think, books bridge that gap, so that for a moment, in our lives, like good conversations where we are listening and being heard, that priceless exchange amongst friends, books have that same kind of exchange, from writer to reader. And that is the stuff of life.

And before you picture me crying all the time, I have to add that I also laugh. Often. I love it when books make me laugh. Which Lonely Werewolf Girl did. Which Anne of Green Gables did, often, all through the series. Which almost every book that made me cry, also had some moment where I laughed too. Those are the best kinds of books. Connie Willis is delightful - Bellwether has the best description of office/corporate life I've ever read. I can't decide if I would want Flip in my office or not!! So, if you want to write about books that made you laugh out loud, please do that instead. This is Sunday Salon, where we are talking about books, and somehow we are talking about what it is to be human. Isn't that what it's all really about? Books and life? For me anyway, it is....

I hope your Sunday reading is good today. I have begun The House of Dr Dee, though our Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow and I have a 15 pound turkey to cook, so I'm not sure how much reading I'm going to do!

Happy Sunday reading!


Eva said...

I cry a lot too! I cried at Pirates of the Caribbean, lol, when the British sailors were fighting the still immortal pirates and they were so brave but it was so hopeless...

and I could probably come up with more ridiculous examples. Suffice it to say, a lot of books make me cry! I'm with you-they usually make me laugh too. :D

Memory said...

I cry a ton. I cry when I feel terrible for characters. I cry when I'm really happy for characters. I cry when particular ideas make me either really upset or really happy. I'm basically just a big ol' crier, and I often find myself sobbing while I read.

I agree with you about the Anne books and Robin Hobb's trilogies; they always get me going! My biggest tearjerker so far this year has been The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson. I cried and cried all through it, both because I was so upset and because I was so happy.

Bybee said...

I mentioned Charlotte's Web and Bridge To Terabithia when I answered this question on Trish's blog, but I forgot Jane Eyre. I was sobbing in frustration because the Reeds were being so mean to Jane. I was nine.

DesLily said...

Happy Turkey-day!! It's silly to say but I hope you don't work tooooo hard in the kitchen, and have lots of time to read!

ah yes, books and movies do move me to tears and laughter etc.. I love when books make me laugh out loud or get tearful, it always makes me want to be in their world instead of the one I am in!!

trish said...

LOL. I cry at everything, too. Commercials, missing the bus, when I'm angry, when I'm happy, when I'm sad... :-)

Nymeth said...

I cry really, really easily too. Let me think of a particularly ridiculous know Ratatouille? The bit when the mean food critic is tasting the ratatouille and it reminds him of his childhood and all that? That made me get all teary eyed. There have even been bits of comedy shows like Scrubs, Futurama and South park that made me cry :P

As for books, ah, the list is endless. I wanted to tell you what I finished Lonely Werewolf Girl today, and yep, it made me cry. So did the last chapter of The Graveyard Book, so prepare yourself :P

Just the other day I read something about Doomsday Book that made me want to pick it up. And with what you say about it in this post, well, it really sounds like something I should read! I have never read any Connie Willis...should I hang my head in shame? :P

I hope you have a great thanksgiving, Susan :)

Patricia said...

True stories/books make me cry. When the pig in "The Good Good Pig" passes on, when Marley dies in "Marley and Me" and when Hannah leaves this world in "Hannah's gift".

I know I'm getting sick when I cry at commercials, those soapy-type of ones.

Just in case though, maybe I'll pass on some of those books you listed in this post!

Hope your turkey was great; John made a nice meal on Sunday and we had another turkey meal at his brother's on Monday. Now it is time for everything to digest!

Emily Barton said...

Oh, I cry all the time, too. Missing the bus is absolutely a reason to have a good cry. And if I'm wondering whether or not I'm PMSing, all I have to do is watch some sappy television commercial to confirm that I am.

What books make me cry? Number one is any book that has an animal in it that is treated unfairly (even Snoopy Come Home). I cried buckets over A Dog's Life: Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin. Don't read it unless you are in the mood for a good cry.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was the first about people to make me cry. And when I re-read it this year, it still made me cry.