{DISCUSSION} Emotional Responses: Crying

What does it take for a book to make you cry?

I don’t read a whole lot of book reviews (because honestly I just haven’t read enough books yet), but I do love talking about books. And in so doing, I find that a lot of people seem to have emotional reactions to the books they’re reading.

They have strong responses whether it be sadness, giddiness, anger, embarrassment. They actually physically feel something towards whatever is currently happening in the book, and I’d really love to delve more into these responses. But… that could be a lot! So, let’s start with just one emotion:


Okay. Maybe I’m super emotionless or just… insensitive or whatever, but I almost NEVER cry when it comes to fictional characters or their plights or anything. Like I see something, I know it’s sad, but it doesn’t really… hit the point  (or string) in my heart to evoke an emotional response.

(Yes, I’m a heartless, soulless ice monster. Nice to meet you. 😉)

Now, like most people in the world, though, I do cry for animal deaths and I do so a heck of a lot more often than for people deaths, but animal deaths don’t seem to exist in YA, (my main reading choice.) Still there are plenty of other things to cry about. I mean, I read dystopian for goodness sake! TONS of people die, are maimed, tortured, etc. But I never cry for them!


Is it possible I’m able to subconsciously discern fictional from realistic and therefore am compartmentalizing my emotions? Is it possible the characters just aren’t written well enough for me to care? Is it possible that these stories just aren’t triggering my heartstrings?

I ask because I have cried for a book before. And yes, a book. Just ONE book. (Not that I’ve read that many books before, but of the books I’ve read) I’ve only ever cried while reading ONE and that book was If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. HOLY. GOODNESS. Is that book sad!!! 😭

The thing is, I know I connected and empathized with the main character, Mia. I had quite a bit in common with Mia and could understand the struggles she faces. So maybe that was why I ended up crying. Or maybe Gayle Foreman is just that amazing of an author! Who can really say why that particular book. The important thing to note is that I know I can cry for stories. So, why don’t I?

Well, the most obvious explanation is that I truly am a cruel, heartless, soulless vampire-monster Queen… thing.

(I mean… I am, but… 😏)

Maybe I just don’t experience as strong of emotions as other people. Or perhaps my sadness trigger is buried so deep, deep, DEEEEEP down in the black abyss of my core (probably next to wherever I hide the souls I steal 😜) that it’s just harder to find than say… my anger trigger (which I’m sure EVERYONE on my blog has witnessed in my reviews. 😉 )


There’s always the possibility that I’m reading in the wrong genre. After all, dystopians aren’t really designed to make people cry. They’re supposed to be dark, cruel, heartless (and… this could explain why it’s my favorite genre. >.> Hmmm….) Neither is sadness and emotional heartstrings the intent of scifi, fantasy, or horror. Those all focus on different elements: adventure, action, motivation, etc etc.

But contemporary fiction on the other hand…

It would actually make a TON of sense that the reason I haven’t cried much while reading is because I’m reading the wrong books. After all, If I Stay is one of the few contemporary novels I’ve read. I stay very far away from that genre, but of the like… 3 books I’ve read in contemporary, one just happens to make me cry? Coincidence?


But, as I’ve stated, I don’t cry much for books. So… maybe I’m not the best person to really analyze what snags on those emotional triggers and makes someone cry. Maybe other people do cry for scifi and fantasy and horror. Maybe I really am a callous, insensitive, brutal, monstrous Vampire Ice Queen of Unpopular Opinions. 😝

What do you think?
Do you cry while reading books?
Leave your thoughts below!

And check out my discussion from last week:
Movie Adaptations


51 thoughts on “{DISCUSSION} Emotional Responses: Crying”

  1. Ha! I’m your opposite Melanie. Nearly a professional crier LOL I think I’m an onvertly emotional person like Shana. I laugh, I cry, I rant, I…well you get it. Of course I have to walk in the character’s shoes to do it. If the hero(s) are not really well written or keep everyone at arm’s lenght then I can’t connect with them. I can’t feel their emotions.
    Now this can be embarrassing as I often cry while on the train mascara running and all. Or I laugh out loud alone…but people are used to that mad woman by now. They are pretty all the same commuters every day anyway 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha! I imagine that might be a smidge embarrassing, but hey! I’d rather feel something for the characters and get in touch with them than just be like: “Well… this is boring” the entire time. I sometimes wish I did get more emotionally attached to the characters, but I too often see them as fictional. Plain and simple. So, I don’t connect with them and their plights and I subconsciously know that everything will work out in the end (especially if it has a sequel sigh) I think I take all the fun out of reading because I know it will all end well. I need more surprises. :p

      And your commuter-peoples probably just think you’re the crazy lady. That could be fun, too. 😉


  2. Yes! I made it this time!!!
    I love this topic. What makes people cry fascinates me. Hope that doesn’t sound creepy!! That’s because I want to write a book that makes people cry but it’s just so, so hard. I was even googling “how to write a book that makes people cry” but there were no real answers. If google doesn’t even know the answer then it must not exist!

    I don’t cry too often when I read. It definitely takes more than someone dying or getting hurt to make me cry. It’s more about whether I feel like I can relate to the character as you mentioned. Depressing books and scenes do not make me cry, they are just depressing. It’s more the scenes that show a character’s vulnerability. For example, in My Heart and Other Black Holes, the main character spends a lot of effort in choosing the perfect gift for her brothers birthday, because it’s going to be the last birthday she’ll celebrate with him, since she is planning to commit suicide, and she wants him to remember her in a positive way. If you like animals, maybe you will like Hachi (there are two movies based on a true story from Japan), which tells the story of a dog who waits for his owner everyday at the train station to walk home together with him after work, one day the owner dies and never makes it to the train station. Hachi (the dog) continues to wait at the train station for many years until he passes away.

    I don’t think I’ve ever cried reading a dystopian sci fi novel haha. So maybe it is the genre 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YAY! You made it this time, Sophie! (Though… I definitely didn’t make it in time to respond. sigh Been so busy lately, but alas! Here we are!)

      NAH! That doesn’t sound creepy. It’s a writer’s aspiration to form a connection between character and reader. That’s a sign of good writing, but sadly there is no formula to it. It’s more along the lines of being a good enough writer so as to portray emotions in a realistic enough manner that the reader also feels them or at least empathizes with them. And a lot of that depends on whether or not they connect with the character in the first place. I… don’t think I’ll ever make my readers cry. 😉

      OH! I have heard the story of Hachi before (and lots of other stories quite similar to that.) Those are the worst, but again, we generally connect with animals and cry for them WAY more often than we do for people. So… not sure that counts. :p

      My Heart and Other Black Holes sounds really depressing, but you said you don’t like depressing… and I’m guessing it’s contemporary. scrutinizes

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha no worries! I know how it feels to be catching up on comments!

        I guess it is good to know that there is no formula to writing awesomely dramatic scenes and awesome books in general, because that would be too easy. And it would be disappointing if anyone could write a good book, right? 🙂 That’s my goal! To one day write a book that will make people cry! (Maybe I am not so nice after all haha…)

        If you are writing sci-fi, I don’t think you have to make people cry. You just gotta make them sit on the edge of their seat wanting to find out what happens next. Which is a tough thing to do as well!

        Haha, I agree that for some reason we connect with animals more so than humans. It’s weird. Maybe it’s because we think that animals are inherently good, while we think that humans are not…?

        The premise of My Heart and Other Black Holes sounds really depressing (two teens wanting to commit suicide), but the way it’s written really isn’t. Somehow the author’s able to add a dash of humour in there. I really don’t know how to explain it!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha! True. We don’t want any writer to be able to make readers cry. Then it wouldn’t be a challenge. :p

          And you may be right, but I think the mark of a good writer would be eliciting any emotion from a reader, you know what I mean? If I, as a scifi writer, could make people cry, well DANG! Then I’m a BAMF! :p Jk. But I have been known to make people cringe (with both my scifi and my horror) Hee hee. is such an evil writer

          I would agree. We see animals as inherently good. They do nothing wrong to gain our distrust and we don’t imagine they’ve done anything ‘bad’ in their pasts.

          Oh lord. Dark humor? I think I can relate to that. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Definitely!! Good writing means being able to immerse the reader into the scene and feel like they are experiencing all the emotions related to the scene, whether it is fear, or suspense, or sadness, or funniness (if that is a word?) 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Michaela! I’m glad you like this topic! 😀

      Aww! I think that’s great, though, that you manage to connect to characters. Too often I feel unable to and then I’m just left uninterested in the book. :/ Sometimes being super critical doesn’t make for a very fun reading experience. sigh Do you have any books in particular that make you cry?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You welcome. The characters are the main thing I’m interested in in books and whether I can connect with them or not is usually the deciding factor in whether I love the book, like the book or hate the book.
        Some of the main books that make my cry are The Book Theif, Private Peaceful and my Sister’s Keeper.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah. I’ve heard good things about The Book Thief. (Many good things, actually). Though, I can definitely say that I look for different things while reading that just liking the MC or not. I’m not entirely sure if I even consider that to be vital. :/

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooo! The music! I totally get that! Music is a really big thing for me so I’m more drawn in or will attach certain scenes to the music and it really does help set the mood. I mean, it’s why they use it in horror, too. They use it to maximize jump-scares and play dramatic music for tense scenes in actions/adventures. Music is key!

      Unfortunately, I can’t listen to music while reading. :/ Because music is so important to me and I’m so attuned to it, it has a tendency to draw my full focus. It’s kind of bad. Doesn’t help my insomnia either. :p

      Got a particular movie in mind that makes you cry? I’m curious!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think a lot depends on where you are in the moment. I have shed a tear over a particularly touching scene, but I find that a lot can affect whether or not I do. A few stories have a scene or two that can really hit me, but it doesn’t always affect me the same way.

    In some ways I find it cathartic, like a kind of tension being released, so I tend to think that while it has to be the right story, there’s also an element of where/how you are in the moment. It may be that you don’t cry because you don’t need to?

    I’ve definitely had times where I thought something was very funny, but for whatever reason I didn’t laugh. I just felt it, and savored it. As long as you enjoy the story, that’s all that really matters.

    Random tangent, I actually once read a story with a very colorful cast, including one character who was known for crying very easily, but when he explained it what he said was, “I cry often so that when things are really bad I know that I’ll be okay because I don’t have any tears left, only the resolution to do what I have to do.” He was a very interesting character; so soft most of the time, but good god when he got serious you knew you were in trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think it’s very true that your present head-space plays a very big impact on how you react to external stimuli. Like, if you’re super angry or sad, you’re probably not going to laugh. If you’re super happy, it’s harder to tap into sadness and feel it. It’s like switches that take time to turn on and off and only one or two can be on at the same time. 🙂

      Haha! I think I don’t cry because I trained myself not to. I know it sounds weird, but growing up I didn’t want to cry in front of people. (Or worse, I’d cry when I was SUPER angry.) So, crying just never felt right to me and putting on a brave face was easier. And then I got into acting and was like: “How do I make myself cry? HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS?!” :p

      Wow. That sounds like a very interesting mentality, but it does make sense. You’re so accustomed to the grief of crying that it’s not nearly as devastating or crippling and you’re able to move on faster and do what needs to be done. That’s cool. Though, not sure it would work for everyone. :p

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can sympathize. I generally don’t like to shed tears in front of others. But in private, allowing my mental/emotional composure relax can be very cathartic, regardless of whether I have a strong emotional reaction. I think a lot of it is the gradual process of accepting it within myself.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I cry a lot during TV and movies. With books, I will cry occasionally if its a really sad scene. The Fault in Our Stars, A Monster Calls, and Eleanor have made me cry. I know its fiction, but its for entertainment and meant to strike our emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mm. True. It is supposed to strike our emotions and I think that’s why I wanted to talk about this topic because I don’t seem to feel those supposed emotions. Maybe I’m reading the wrong books. Maybe I’m not connecting. Maybe I just don’t feel that towards books, but I want to have an emotional connection with a book. I see it as a sign of good writing, you know?

      And I totally feel you! I cry for movies. Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron is one that always gets me and I REFUSE to watch Marlie and Me. 0.0


      1. Maybe the books you have read have so much more than the sad elements going for them that you are able to make it through them without tears.

        And girl, don’t get me started on Marley and Me. I had to leave the theater at the end and was outside with 3 other women, and we were sobbing like babies! I will NEVER recommend that to movie to anyone! Family friendly my ass!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Honestly, the first 2/3 of the movie were funny and entertaining, but that ending…Ugh. I’m sure you are aware of the ending then?

            I usually pick up sad books when it’s time for a good cry. Same with movies. When I am ready for some soul cleansing I watch Les Mis, lol.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve cried for three books. That’s it. Three books. And all of them Fantasy with such heart crushing moments I don’t understand how anyone could not cry in them. But a lot of the times I hear people saying they’ve cried in a book I’m just “Whuut? It wasn’t that sad.”

    Just thought about a thing: I haven’t cried directly for someones death, but in all of the books it has been for the despair the main character feels. And not a lot of books manages to deliver that satisfactory.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AH! I love the point you bring up because it really isn’t necessarily about the death, but the portrayal of grief felt by another character. I think we cry more as a reaction of empathy to their grief than actually feeling something for the dead character, which is completely reliant on the author’s ability to write compelling emotional trauma. Very good point! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was trying to make a film reference. Did you ever watch Jerry Maguire? When Tom Hanks walks in to ask Renee Zellweger to forgive him, and he makes this long, convoluted apology, she tells him, “you had me at hello”.
        I tried to express how sentimental I am and how easily I cry simply when a character walks in and says “hello”, depending on the situation. Sorry if it did not and still does not make any sense.
        I still don’t buy that dark soul business…:-)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ohhhh. I get it. (Not that I saw that movie, but I know what you mean.) And yeah. That makes total sense. I had a feeling that was what you meant, but wanted to clarify. ☺

          And believe what you want, but just so you know, I warned you. 😈

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m an overly emotional person in general so it doesn’t take much to make me cry. If the characters are written well enough then it’s even easier. Between Shades of Gray made me cry 5 or more times! But a lot of people have the ability to disassociate their emotions because they know it’s fiction so you aren’t alone!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And perhaps that’s another aspect for me to take into account. Very few YA novels (in my experience) are written well. So, I already am not connecting with the characters, which means I don’t care enough to cry for them.

      Some times I can. My ability to cry may also depend on my current emotional state while viewing/reading said story. Not gonna lie. Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron ALWAYS makes me cry when he’s on the train and sees his family in the snowflakes! 😭 Besides that, though, not much. Hee hee!

      Liked by 1 person

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