Listography Week 2 — Literary Tearjerkers
Posted by Katie L
Welcome to yet another listography post — and today’s prompt is SO much fun:
Books that Made You Cry
Right? Super exciting.
Without further ado…
1. Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis. This is my favorite C.S. Lewis book (that I’ve read so far). It is a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, constructed as an accusation against the gods from Queen Orual, Psyche’s ugly older sister. Unlike the traditional myth, where the sisters are portrayed as jealous villains, Orual is a complex character who is deeply sympathetic despite her flaws. The book’s title comes from a line in the text where Orual, upon experiencing a profound transformation, asks, “How can the gods meet us face to face till we have faces?” The idea is that human beings must “become real” before they can commune with the divine, stripped of pretense, self-deception, and lies. This involves standing “for good or ill itself, [without] any mask,” as Lewis explained later. And yes, I was so moved by Orual’s final epiphany about love and self-honesty that I cried.
2. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry. This haunting novel takes pace during a 30-year period of turmoil in Mumbai, India, and follows the stories of four characters from a variety of backgrounds. It deals with issues of economics, oppression, sexuality, coming of age, politics, and prejudice. The characters are compelling, and the way their lives interweave is surprising and lovely. I cried at several points in the book, thanks to vivid writing and characters I came to love.
3. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros. I first read this book in high school, but I don’t think I really “got” it until I picked it up again a couple months ago. This is a gorgeously-written book about a headstrong Latina girl coming of age in Chicago’s inner city. Framed as a series of simple vignettes about things like hair, neighbors, and sex, Cisneros weaves her narrative in a stunning way. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are some gut-wrenching scenes near the end that brought tears to my eyes.
4. In Sacred Loneliness, Todd Compton. This ambitious work tackles a profoundly difficult topic — Nauvoo-era polygamy and Joseph Smith’s polygamous wives — and does it with compassion and grace. It was not an easy book to read, but I found myself marveling at the hardship and, yes, courage and faith, of these women who sacrificed basically everything for their beliefs. I don’t know that I’d recommend it to people just starting to explore church history, but it was a fascinating read and had me crying in more than a few places as I imagined myself in their shoes.
5. Limbo, A. Manette Ansay. This is a lovely memoir about family, faith, art, and illness. It follows A. Manette Ansay’s transformation from a devout concert pianist to a non-believing fiction writer — especially as she combats a mysterious illness that threatens to cripple her. I thought her prose was beautiful and her narrative both whimsical and grounded. Though I grew up in Utah, not Wisconsin; and though I was raised Mormon, not Catholic; and though I’ve always been healthy, not ill; and though I still believe and she doesn’t, I felt that I could relate to her experiences and struggles as if they were mine. Which I suppose is the hallmark of excellent writing. It was that affinity that made me a little blubbery at times.
6. The Standard Works, God. 😉 I don’t think there’s a book in the LDS cannon that hasn’t made me misty on multiple occasions. These days, I’m especially prone to emotion when I read about Jesus’ teachings and ministry. He always astonishes me with His wisdom, compassion, and radical love.
7. The Secret Message of Jesus, Brian McLaren. Is it nerdy that a pop theology book made me cry? Yes. Beyond nerdy. But this book gave me such an unexpected and exciting perspective on Jesus’ message that I got a little carried away. It focuses on the Master’s revolutionary teaching on the Kingdom of God, and helped me shift my understanding of Christianity as a religion primarily concerned with the afterlife to a religion primarily concerned with everyday life.
8. The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball. This book got me pretty worked up, and I’m not entirely sure it was all in a positive direction. But it certainly made an impact on my life.
9. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls. Because only a heartless reprobate could read a book about brave, loyal dogs who die and not weep uncontrollably. Let the record show I am no such person.
10. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer. I suffered through hundreds of pages of that nonsense just to get to the good stuff, and all it turned out to be was a devoured headboard and some torn up pillows. Honestly. Not to mention THE WORST plot twists of all time. I’m not saying I cried, I’m saying I should have.
Those are mine. What are yours? Everyone needs a good cathartic cry from time to time, so be sure to share your favorite tearjerkers in the comments below!
About Katie LA doubter by nature, a believer by grace.
Posted on January 10, 2011, in Listography, Pop Culture and tagged a fine balance, a manette ansay, blubbering, books, breaking dawn, brian mclaren, c.s. lewis, catharsis, crying, God, in sacred loneliness, limbo, listography, rohinton mistry, sandra cisneros, scriptures, sobbing, spencer w. kimball, stephenie meyer, the house on mango street, the miracle of forgiveness, the secret message of jesus, till we have faces, todd compton, weeping, where the red fern grows, wilson rawls. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.