I'm a fan of crying. Yes, we usually cry when we're sad, or stressed, or at a wedding, so crying is often associated with bad memories. But a good cry gets out all those negative emotions. It's cleansing. You just feel so much better after sobbing uncontrollably for a few minutes, so here are a few books to read when you need a good cry.
Firstly, I should make it clear that the list of things that make me cry is very long and entirely random. Things that have made me well up in the last week include but are not limited to: the trailer for the new Spider-Man movie, the theme song for the '80s sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf, my cat being exceptionally cute, and the TV show House Hunters International (he loved her enough to move to the Netherlands).
When it comes to books, though, I only cry at the saddest of the sad. It has to be a "Beth from Little Women dies" level of literary tragedy. So get your tissues ready and don't read any of these books on public transit (unless you find crying on the subway weirdly cathartic), because these are books to read when you just want to cry:
1'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green
Honestly, you could hate every single character, adjective, and punctuation mark in this book and you would still end up a slobbering, weeping mess. Teenagers experiencing the pain of first love and the pain of cancer and grief all at once makes for one huge, emotional gut-punch. Hazel and Augustus might be slightly pretentious teen lovers, but their wit and vulnerability will win you over just in time to be devastated when (spoiler alert) one of them dies.
2'Wave' by Sonali Deraniyagala
Don't read this book if you want a quick, 20 minute cry. Read it if you want to fully immerse yourself in someone else's grief for at least a week. Wave is the memoir of Sonali Deraniyagala, who lost her parents, husband, and children to a tsunami. It's a story of surviving, of processing unimaginable pain, but also of keeping happy memories alive even in the wake of tragedy.
3'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner is a modern classic, and now is the time to finally read it. A wealthy boy and a servant's son share a bond of friendship that withstands horrific violence over generations. Hosseini's heartbreaking novel unpacks trauma, class inequality, and familial love, and it's basically guaranteed to make you cry if you care about children even a little bit.
4'Blankets' by Craig Thompson
Blankets doesn't involve unspeakable grief or war or anything like that. But it does involve beautiful artwork, and the acute pain of a first break up. It's a painfully honest novel about first love and first heartbreak, and it's perfect for when you want a crying session that's short and sweet and not even that sad.
5'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things will make you feel many different emotions. You will laugh, because of the clever use of language in this strange coming-of-age story. You will be angry, because Arundhati Roy is such an incredible writer that she's ruined all other writers for you. And you will cry, because The God of Small Things manages to capture the raw grief and loneliness and injustice felt by every single character.
6'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro
Kids at an English boarding school. Love triangles. Death. Never Let Me Go has all of the classic hallmarks of a tearjerker, and Kazuo Ishiguro does not disappoint. As Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy grow up together, falling in and out of love, we slowly come to understand why they are so different from the rest of society—and why their lives will be so much shorter.
7'The Little Prince' by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
It may look like a kids' book, but The Little Prince is secretly one of the saddest adult books you'll ever read. Beneath all the whimsy and adorable illustrations, there's an overwhelming sense of loss for the innocence of childhood. And when you get to the end — let's just say that if you don't at least get misty eyed, you're basically a monster.
8'Tell the Wolves I'm Home' by Carol Rifka Brunt
Fourteen-year-old June Elbus is shy around everyone, except for her wonderful Uncle Finn, the famous painter. And then, of course, Finn dies. And June starts to realize just how much of her uncle's life was kept secret. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a deeply affecting story of dealing with loss and forging new friendships, and you'll probably be crying before the halfway mark.
9'This is How You Lose Her' by Junot Díaz
Somewhere in the depths of This is How You Lose Her, you will find a story that reminds you of your last horrible break up. And then you will cry. If you're looking to wallow after a failed relationship, this is the book for you (especially if you're feeling betrayed by your no good cheating ex). This is How You Lose Her is all about heartbreak in its myriad forms.
10'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith
Mostly, this is a lovely story about a young, bookish girl growing up in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. But A Tree Grows in Brooklyn encompasses both the triumphs and the tragedies of a childhood, and Francie Nolan's intense grief at the loss of a loved one is impossible to read without breaking down into tears. Luckily, there are plenty of happy moments, too, to offset all that crying.