Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books that Made You Cry

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday list is near and dear to my heart – books that make you cry!  Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I tend to let the waterworks flow when it comes to anything that is remotely sad.  That Kleenex commercial where everyone talks about their sadnesses?  Yup, made me cry.  That phone commercial where the couple falls in love and their son becomes president?  Might have shed a tear or two.  Every Lifetime movie ever made? Forget about it.  When it comes to books, I’m a little more discerning.  Only certain books have really made me cry buckets, but here they are.

Note: Yes, this means I have returned from Spain!  I will be posting all about it soon!  Once I get all my pictures in order.  Oh, friends I have some stories to tell you!


1. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman – This book didn’t just make me cry, it made me sob.  I sobbed unrelenting buckets of tears, all the while trying to remain very very quiet because everyone in the house was still sleeping.  If I Stay is about Mia, a girl who has a wonderful life with her wonderful family and boyfriend.  Except for when, on an afternoon drive, her mother, father and brother are killed in a car accident that leaves her in a coma, but still conscious of her surroundings.  Mia is left with a choice: should she stay, and live in this new world she doesn’t understand that doesn’t include her family, or should she join her family?  And I know that description sounds trite, but this book is full of absolutely wonderful moments that make the loss of Mia’s family unbearable.  My review of this book is clearly pitiful because I did not once mention how much it made me cry.

2. Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee – I read this book for Nerds Heart YA and it made it all the way to the final round!  Though it was runner-up and not the winner of the whole tournament, this book is one that everyone should read.  Shawna’s mom leaves her father for another woman and Shawna never forgives her.  In the first few chapters, Shawna’s mother dies and she is left with all sorts of questions about what happened between her mother and father, not to mention an entirely new family.  This book is touching and real  and often heartbreaking, but it’s a wonderful story.

3. Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee – This book is bound to make anyone cry, about a precocious young boy whose grandfather dies when they go on a walk together.  Anu tries to understand his grandfather’s death by becoming closer to the gods.  This book is seriously amazing and paired with the fact that I read it shortly after losing my own grandmother, I cried, a lot.

4. The Untelling by Tayari Jones – Jones’s lovely novel about a woman who is trying to have a baby is perfect.  I loved every single thing about it, including the connection I felt with Aria.  Her situation brought me to tears quite a few times.

5. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb – I have a lot of bones to pick with Mr. Lamb, but the first 100 or so pages of this book that described, through Lamb’s unique fictional lens, the tragedy of Columbine absolutely shattered me.  I didn’t stop crying and finished the rest of this 700-page doorstop in two days.

6. City of Thieves by David BanioffCity of Thieves is a comedy, so perhaps it’s a bit strange that it is appearing on this list, but it is exactly because of its humor that the ending of this book is so tragic and tear-worthy.

7. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about this book before.  I loved this book to pieces and I think it is the best thing that Sarah Waters has ever written (yes, it’s better than Fingersmith).  I don’t know that I thought that at the time I read it, but since then it has made it possibly into my top ten list.  This story is so sad, like most of Waters’s stories, so you’re going to go into it prepared, but it still made me cry.  I listened to it on audio, so that was awkward.  I guess I could always say I was crying because of the traffic.

8. Kitchen by Banana Yohsimoto – Go read this book.  Just do it.  It defies description and is just amazing.  Also might make you cry.

9. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patric Ness – I’m sure this one made a lot of lists.  This book is sad for many reasons, but there’s always that one reason that gets everyone in the end.  I’m currently reading Monsters of Men, the third book in the trilogy and I was just reminded about that thing that made everyone cry and I almost teared up again.

10. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien – This is another book that I have shouted from the rooftops that everyone should read, but nothing made me cry like hearing Tim O’Brien read aloud from this book and a book that he is currently working on.  There was not a dry eye in that entire tent during the 2009 National Book Festival.

For more Top Ten Tuesdays, check out The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite book quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is a new feature for me that I’ve always seen on English Major’s Junk Food, one of my favorite blogs.  It’s run by The Broke and the Bookish, a new-to-me blog I discovered during BBAW.   Finally this week I’ve decided to participate!

This week’s topic is Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes

1. That’s one good thing about this world… there are always sure to be more springs.” – Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery

Doesn’t that quote just sum up the entire series beautifully?  I love Anne.

2. We were lost then.  And talking about dark!  You think dark is just one color, but it ain’t.  There’re five or six kinds of black.  Some silky, some wooly.  Some just empty.  Some like fingers.  And it don’t stay still.  It move and changes from one kind of black to another.  Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green.  What kind of green?  Green like my bottles?  Green like a grasshopper?  Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to a storm.  Well, night black is the same way.  May as well be a rainbow.” – Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

I think this is gorgeous, and so true.

3. “And this is our life, exempt from public haunt,
finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones, and good in everything.” – As You Like It by William Shakespeare

As You Like It is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and I love this quote.

4. “Shredding and slicing, dividing and subdividing, the clocks of Harley Street nibbled at the June day, counselled submission, upheld authority and pointed out in chorus the supreme advantages of a sense of proportion, until the mound of time was so far diminished that a commercial clock, suspended above a shop on Oxford Street, announced, genially and fraternally, as if it were a pleasure to Messrs. Rigby and Lowndes to give the information graüs, that it was half-past one.” – Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I knew I had to pick a quote from Mrs. Dalloway because I’m pretty sure I tried to quote the whole book in my review.  This one is just wonderful.  I love what it does with the concept of time and clocks, but also the way it uses language.


Just when I begin to believe English is lucky,
full of choices like trumpet and ash, curlicue,
olive, armrest and hostile, I see that its vastness

is urban, lonely: too many people live in its center,
and the environs are losing population fast.
Few are interested in leaving the inner cities of language,

so each tongue shrinks, deletes its consummate
geographies, copse and dell, ravine and fen,
boonies, coulées, bailiwicks, and sloughs.But English is not the only shrinking province.

I watch two French boys on the train
from Turin to Nice burn a pair of earphones,

delighted as the plastic withers, whitens,
sends up its little wick of toxic smoke. Watch
and wow and fuck, all the words they need to test

the butane’s power to make plastic disappear.
Not sure if I can understand their chat, they test me too.
The one with his thumb on the flame looks at me

from under lavish lashes, merest shadow
of mustache riding his budded lips, Diable,
he asks me, how you say him in English?

and I marvel at how few syllables
anyone needs to make a world. – Leslie Adrienne Miller

Sorry, it might be a bit much to quote an entire poem, but this is one of my all-time favorite poems.  I think it’s perfect.

5. “I wanted to tell him that I knew how he felt, though I probably did not.  How can you know what another person is going through when your own life is so different from his?  People had done this to me often enough, telling they knew how I felt because they had suffered this or that loss, felt some sort of pain.  The words were in my mouth to tell Lawrence that I knew what it was not to be able to make the family you want to have, not because you are a bad person or because you haven’t tried hard enough, but because you just can’t.  I could predict his response, his words, polite enough, thanking me for my empathy, my generosity of spirit.  And I could imagine his thoughts, that no, I couldn’t possibly empathize.  Our situations were not the same at all.” – The Untelling by Tayari Jones.

I don’t know how many times I’ve thought this or felt this, on both sides.  I love the way that Jones put that into words.

6.” She supposed that houses, after all – like the lives that were lived in them – were mostly made of space.  It was the spaces, in fact, which counted, rather than the bricks.” – The Night Watch by Sarah Waters.

Maybe you’ve heard me talk about The Night Watch?  I loved it and this quote sums up why.

7. “Sometimes you never feel meaner than the moment you stop being mean.  It’s like how turning on a light makes you realize how dark the room had gotten.  And the way you usually act, the things you would have normally done, are like these ghosts that everyone can see but pretends not to.” When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me is a novel heavily influenced by A Wrinkle in Time, another favorite of mine.  Isn’t this quote lovely?

8. “I think: perhaps there’s a light inside people, perhaps a clarity; perhaps people aren’t made of darkness, perhaps certainties are a breeze inside people, and perhaps people are the certainties they possess.” The Implacable Order of Things by Jose Luis Piexoto

I really should have featured The Implacable Order of Things during BBAW.  I don’t know any other book blogger who has read it and it is amazing.  So beautiful and perfect, though fairly upsetting.

9.” Is it her, will she know
What I’ve seen & done,
How my boots leave little grave-stone
shapes in the wet dirt,” Neon Vernacular by Yusef Komunyakaa

I recently reminded you of my love for Yusef Komunyakaa and these four lines are an example of why.  He takes something that is so simple (the shape of a footprint) and turns it into something so much bigger than that.  I love it.

10. “Days I have held,
days I have lost,

days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.”

“Midsummer, Tobago” by Derek Walcott

Another quote from a poem to round out the list.  Never was there a more perfect description of life slipping away.

I’ve really enjoyed participating in Top Ten Tuesday!  It think I’ll be back next week!

Sky Coyote by Kage Baker

Dear Kage Baker,

Yes, I am writing you a letter.  You know that I only write letters to really special authors, right?  I wrote one to Elizabeth Strout after she blew me away with Olive Kitteridge and I wrote one to Sarah Waters after she frustrated me and wowed me with The Little Stranger.  I’m really sorry I didn’t get a chance to write you this letter before, I think I would have actually sent it to you.  I had to let you know though, I’m in love with your Company novels.

For folks who don’t know, the Company novels are science fiction books about a group of immortals (cyborgs who were once human and trained by the Company since they were young) who are employed by the Company Dr. Zeus to live through history in real time and save historical items.  Don’t worry, you can’t change the past.  Well, at least you can’t change recorded history.   Dr. Zeus is somewhat dubious, but for the most, their employees are genuinely trying to do good things, while hiding the reality of what they are.  In Sky Coyote, Joseph is a facilitator who is on a mission to save the Chumash, a Native American tribe in what will be Southern California.

I read In the Garden of Iden and I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  What I did love was what it promised me — a series that has an awesome premise and plenty of time to grow into something amazing.  You didn’t let me down, Kage.  I loved Sky Coyote.  It was charming and mysterious and funny. It has a hugely diverse cast of characters and breaks every possible stereotype that you could possibly think of.  It’s inventive and an absolute joy to read.

Like this quote.  It made me laugh out loud:

“Hey, Sky Coyote, You should have been here this morning!  We had quite a shaker!”

“Hell of a quake,” agreed Nutku, beating his best bearskin robe until the dust flew. […]

“I know.  Khutash is very angry.  She found out about Sun’s white men last night,” I told them.  They looked surprised.

“Khutash is angry?  Is that what makes earthquakes?” Sepawit blinked.  “Well, I guess You’d know, but we always thought it was a natural phenomenon.”

“What?” Oh, boy, I wasn’t at my quick-witted best today.

“We always thought it was the World Snakes down there under the crust of the earth, the ones who hold everything up?  We thought they got tired every now and then and bump into one another,” Nutku explained.  “The astrologer-priest says they push the mountains up a little higher every year.”

“Oh,” I said. (229)

So thank you, Kage Baker.  For having such an original idea, for writing so many books for me to read.  Thank you for making science fiction approachable for all readers, but incorporating historical and literary elements to make any literature junkie like myself smile.  I cannot wait to read all of these books and I will be devastated when I have read them all.  I wanted to let you know all of this, even if it’s too late for me to actually tell you.  You will be greatly missed, but your voice lives on, in all its delightful humor and wit, all its tenderness.

Love, Lu

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR

Review – The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

the_little_strangerDear Sarah Waters,

Are we friends yet?  We’re three books into this relationship, which I know is not nearly as close as you’ve gotten to be with other readers.  I know, I know that I need to read your other novels, your starters, your masterpieces.  Tipping the Velvet and Affinity are at the top of my TBR list, so please don’t get too mad at me.  But here we are again, I’ve finished reading The Little Stranger and I’m having mixed feelings about this!  I wish that I didn’t have to say this in a letter, but I doubt you’d take a phone call from me, considering we’ve never actually met and I’m 95.6% sure that you don’t know I exist.   Plus, you probably don’t want my advice because I am a minion and you are SARAH WATERS caps lock. Unless you’ve Googled “Sarah Waters Review The Night Watch” in which case, I am on the first page!

First, let me sing you some praises, because you certainly deserve them.  The Little Stranger scared me, and while it’s true that I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to ghost stories, there are absolutely some bone-chilling moments in this book.  You also know how to pull a twist so delicate that we don’t even know it’s happening, but it’s been there all along.  Kudos.  I don’t know how you do it, but you give even the most seasoned plot-guesser a run for their money, I’m sure.  Your characters are so realistic that I’m pretty sure I know them.  Especially Kay from The Night Watch and Dr. Faraday from The Little Stranger.  I am also sure that I’ve been to the Hundreds before, even though it probably doesn’t exist outside of these pages.  You’re just so good at putting me somewhere that I lose grip on my own reality, and believe me that is not a complaint.

With every book of yours I have read, it has been like a roller coaster ride of emotion.  Between Fingersmith, The Night Watch and The Little Stranger I have gone from mystery, eroticism, WWII, drama, aristocracy, women!, men!, ghosts, betrayals, bombs.  There have been moments of pure joy, love, and wonderfulness.  But, I cannot lie to you, there are moments when I think you could cut back the pages just a wee bit.  I get a little tired sometimes and I just want things to move a little faster.   Lord knows, you can spin a yarn and it is good.  I’m so torn!  I don’t want you to cut back, but I want the books to be shorter, but then I don’t want you to lose your wonderful detail!  I want you to trim things down a bit, but I’d be kicking myself if I lost parts of your book.  Plus, you put me in a place so convincingly that I wouldn’t give that up for anything.  If losing that sense of scene is what it would cost me to fix this problem then forget I ever mentioned it.

So really, this is just a wishy-washy letter that is me, telling you, that I like to read your books but sometimes they make me tired.  Maybe I just don’t have the stamina for your awesomeness, so really you should ignore this all together.  But I do have a secret to tell you: I don’t think you’ve written your best book yet.  I think you’re keeping it all locked up and secret and one day you’re going to whip it out and it’s going to smack us in the face.  Because you’re like that and it will be amazing.

Sincerely, lovingly, adoringly, wishy-washily,




So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Other reviews: A Garden Carried in the Pocket, Shelf Love, A Life in Books, Fleur Fisher Reads, Farm Lane Books Blog, S. Krishna’s Books