A few months ago, New York Times best selling author Susan Mallery asked her followers on Twitter to name the last book they read that made them cry. Thinking about my answer to that question, I was a little surprised to realize it has been nearly seven years since I cried over a book.
My answer was The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney, which I was reading just days before my wedding. There I was in the Chicago O’Hare airport, on my way to our wedding, lugging around my wedding dress and bawling my eyes out over this book. I remember one little old lady waiting at the gate with me leaned over and said, “You know, honey, if it’s really that bad, you don’t have to go through with it!” Huh? Ohhh, the wedding dress… I assured her my finance was Mr. Wonderful, it was only the book that was getting to me.
I had a short Twitter conversation with Susan Mallery about how long it had been since I cried over a book and she gently suggested that maybe I should invest some time in more emotional reading. Was I really missing out on something? I took it in and filed that thought away for another day.
It’s not that I have anything against emotional books, but the truth is they rarely affect me the way they do my friends, and then I feel guilty for not crying at the same places my friends did. Silly, I know, but we do sit around and talk about scenes in books and I always feel like something is wrong with me because I just didn’t have the same emotional response they did. Plus, I’m not a pretty crier, so I try not to indulge unless it’s absolutely necessary.
In the intervening months, I have conciously chosen a few books that are more emotional than my usual fare, based solely on the back of the book description. I just finished reading one of them this week and will post my review in a couple of weeks when we get nearer the release date. I will say that it was heart-breaking, though hopeful, and I cried through most of it, much to my husband’s dismay. He asked me more than once if I could please just move on to a good murder mystery, because these were tears he didn’t understand and couldn’t fix. When I said I had to finish it, he just quietly rubbed my back while I read and cried, proof positive that he really is Mr. Wonderful.
So that got me wondering, why do you choose to read certain books? Are you looking for a story that touches your heart, do you just want to “escape” into someone else’s life for a while, are you looking for a grand adventure where you get to imagine what it’s like taking down the bad guys?
What motivates you to pick up one book over another? And do you feel an emotional response is critical for you to consider a book to be great?