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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Makes a Book Cry-Worthy?

I came across a website called where a husband records his wife crying at the end of movies and shares the videos online. Other than the fact that he's totally invading her cry-worthy moments and posting them for all to see, it's pretty entertaining as showcased below:

I couldn't help but wonder if she's faking her tears...because it seems a little over the top to cry hysterically at the end of Star Wars (and this is coming from someone who cried at the opening scene and music of Titanic upon watching it for a second time). My skepticism sparked me to read the Q&A section of the site to find out more about the couple behind the tearful dramatics... and I was surprised to come across this question and answer:

Q. Does she cry when she reads books?

A. Nope. Only movies with happy/sad endings.

I found this surprising because one would assume that a woman who becomes so emotionally connected to characters and storylines within films would be equally connected to characters and storylines within literature. But apparently that's not the case.

So I began recollecting my cry-worthy history, and realized that I'm much more prone to cry over movies than books too. I can count the number of books that have made me cry on one hand, whereas I'd probably need both hands and my toes to count movies that have made me shed tears through the years. To be fair, I usually choose to read books that are light hearted and funny rather than heart wrenching... so maybe it's not an accurate comparison. Still, I find the question of why movies evoke more intense emotions than books in some people to be an interesting topic.

Perhaps balancing a book with tissues inhibits the ability to turn pages properly, therefore crying is averted when reading. While hands are (usually) free for tissue use when watching movies... unless you're holding a huge tub of buttered popcorn.

What do you think? Are books or movies more apt to make you cry? What is the most cry-worthy book you've read? What made that book so cry-worthy?

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Blogger ~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

That woman got that broken up over Return of the Jedi?? She must be one sensitive soul!

I haven't cried over as many books as movies either. I think the movie soundtracks have a lot to do with it. It's the music that pulls my emotions to the surface. I'll bet -- and this would be an interesting social experiment! -- if I read an emotional scene while listening to sad music, I'd cry.

One author that gets my waterworks operating is Nicholas Sparks. I keep tissues handy when I read him!

March 24, 2010 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I cry so much in movies, but not really in books. Like you, I read a lot of lighter reads, so that's probably why I don't cry as much. I bawled when I read HP7 though-pretty much all throughout the book. But I didn't cry at any other HP books. And I bawled with P.S. I Love You (book and movie, but I read the book first and cried so hard!) And I cried at the end of If I Stay.

March 24, 2010 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Tamika: said...

The water works are never far at the movies. I connect so quickly with characters and storylines. It feels magical.

I love books way more than movies, but I don't think I've ever cried.

I'll have to dig deep to find out the story there. Great question!

March 24, 2010 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Adriana said...

The cryingwife is just too funny. Star Wars???
I'm such a cry baby for both movies and books.

I'll have to feel a connection to the characters though in order for me to actually feel sad. Animal movies make me cry the most. I cried so much when I saw Marley and Me same for Hachiko. As for books and movies, I cried when I read The Notebook, but not when I saw the movie. With the books I feel like I know them better.

March 24, 2010 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Frankie Diane Mallis said...

OMG that was the wierdest thing Ive ever seen--seriously? he records his wife crying??? It was kind of funny though but whoa! And yeah movies make me cry all the time--easier than books but good books can make me cry too and usually they leave me sadder longer.

March 24, 2010 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I cry quite a bit for those moments in movies, however I cry a lot when I'm reading one amazing novel. I have quite the imagination and I invest a lot of time into these characters, instead of watching a two hour movie I invest a few days reading a book, I learn the characters, I relate to them I want them to be okay so I believe that for me books make me cry more than movies.

Poor woman having her cry moments showcased to the world, that's something I would be very upset about!

March 24, 2010 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Sarah Dooley said...

I also cry more at movies, and I agree that it has a lot to do with the soundtrack. But that makes books that make me cry extra special.

Books that have made me cry include Alice Hoffman's PRACTICAL MAGIC (goosebumps and tears of "OMG-that-was-perfect," not sad tears), Victoria Forester's THE GIRL WHO COULD FLY (because that book includes the most beautiful line of writing I've ever heard in my life), and Nancy Peacock's LIFE WITHOUT WATER (because OMG).

But scary books are WAY more likely than scary movies to terrify me, give me chills, and send me hiding under the covers. I think because I can look away from a movie, but for some reason, I can't look away from a book in the middle of a sentence (and by the end of the sentence, it's too late).

March 24, 2010 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I don't cry when reading either. I have gotten teary-eyed when a scene is particularly emotional, but no full on squalling. And I'm the same way during movies.

March 24, 2010 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger DL Hammons said...

If I were to tear up...I'm not saying I would...because I wouldn't...but if I were wouldn't be to a book. I agree with Nicole, a movies score goes a long way to creating the mood where tears can flow. I just don't get that emotional connection with a book.

I'm just saying. :)

March 24, 2010 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Amy Holder said...

Thanks for all the comments! This topic is so interesting to me. I love finding out all of your various perspectives!

Nicole - You definitely have a good point about the music. It really has the ability to stir up a whole range of emotions in me too. Ohhh...and that's a really interesting social experiment idea! I like it!

Also, I agree with you about Nicholas Sparks... He and Jodi Picoult write some real tear-jerking scenes.

Sarah (GBTQ) - I thought I was going to bawl my eyes out reading HP7, but surprisingly, the only time I was teary eyed was when Dobby died. If I hadn't read some spoilers beforehand, I'm sure I would have cried more.

Tamika - I'm the same way with crying easily from movies, although I have to admit that I never cried at any Star Wars movies - lol!

Adriana - You and I are the same with animal movies/books!!! I was hysterical at the end of Marley and Me for a longgg time after the movie. Anything with animals hits me ten times more than human characters for some reason.

Frankie - LOL! I thought the same thing when I first saw this video! It's funny, but whoa... it's a little over the top!

Jen - I agree - I would be soooo upset if someone taped me crying and then posted it publicly! I don't even like anyone watching me if I'm crying at a movie, let alone recording me!

Sarah D. - I've just added the books you mentioned to my TBR list! They sound amazing! Thanks!

And what you mentioned about scary books being scarier than scary movies is SO TRUE! Most times I think scary movies are cheesy, where as scary books can chill me to the core...and I'll be freaked out for weeks. Literally! That's why I don't read many scary books!

Melissa - no full on squalling from books here either (thank goodness!)...

DL - Of course your comment is purely hypothetical... :)
I agree and think Nicole hit the nail on the head about the music being an emotional catalyst.

March 25, 2010 at 12:46 AM  
Blogger Claire Dawn said...

What was that old Dolly song?

"My D-I-V-O-R-C-E becomes final today..."


She should stop watching movies.

Here's my theory. Movies are so compact that they intensify everything, while books work gradually, so you feel things less strongly but for a longer period of time.

Now, to go see if my brain scientist friend can find out why...

March 25, 2010 at 1:58 AM  
Blogger Bish Denham said...

Movies are visual and audio and now with 3-D almost tactile. We hear and see real people. If they act well, we suspend belief and/or forget we're seeing actors act and invest real emotions, love/anger/fear/hope/joy/sorrow etc. into those characters. And so we react.

With books it's all in our own heads. It's not so tactile. There are several books though that made me cry, The Call of the Wild, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings, Green Mansions. And there are stories too, like The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde, makes me weep every time I read it.

March 25, 2010 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Amy Holder said...

Claire - lol! Your comments always make me laugh. On a serious note though, I think you're right on with your theory. Movies are definitely intensified...whereas the emotions brought on by a book are drawn out over time.

Bish - Ohhh, that's a great point! Movies really do invoke multiple senses. I'm sure that's a huge reason why we become so emotionally involved with their storylines and characters.

March 25, 2010 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger DL Hammons said...

Me again, I have something waiting for you over at my blog. :)

March 26, 2010 at 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never seen Star Wars, so I don't know why she's crying so much.

I cry sometimes when I'm reading. If the writing is strong, I cry when characters are abused or deceased.

March 27, 2010 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

"The Notebook" made me cry...the book AND the movie. The husband reading the journal to his sick wife? UGH! Hand me a box of tissues!

I'm revising my novel now (well, I should be instead of typing comments). I made MYSELF cry! What's with that? Maybe that's a good sign it's a strong scene, huh?

March 29, 2010 at 2:48 PM  

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