Is it Wrong That I Can’t Cry?

ImageSo, recently finishing The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has made me notice a pattern:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
  • A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
  • I’m pretty sure you could think of a million other tearjerkers out there…

I don’t cry at books.

can’t cry at books. 

I mean, if someone took all the books in the world and burned them before my very eyes, killing all the brilliant authors of the world due to shock…I’d probably never stop sobbing. But when a book is sad, I don’t cry. 

I mean, I feel bad. And I can immerse myself so deep in a book that I feel that I know the character like I know my sister (that is, very, very, VERY well), but if they die, or if the people they love die, or something emotional happens, then my eyes just…just…

…stay dry. Meanwhile there is a universal sob echoing from the distance over <insert beloved character who has just suffered tragedy here> taunting my inability to use my tear ducts. 

I sometimes wonder if I’ve lost complete empathy with the character. Or if I wasn’t as into the book as I thought I was (which is the sad, but unfortunate truth in some cases). Or if the scene really sad and the author has put a spell on that page that somehow makes you cry, but he/she missed my copy by sheer probability.

But I’ve come to another option: not crying is my kind of crying. Instead of bawling over someone or something lost, I just kind of glaze over, acting as if it doesn’t effect me when in reality, it really has. When Leisel’s community/Augustus/Tom Robinson/Fred/Jamie died, I just kind of drew myself out of the story for a brief moment. I remember that this is a book, that I can flip a few chapters back and everyone is okay, and then return steeled to the following scenes of grief.

But I’ve learned that that is how I grieve. When I finish book that I feel like I will miss when I put it back on the shelf, I keep it a bit longer to reread parts again. I can’t flush it out with tears. I have to hold it within for a while. I know this for certain because when I graduated from elementary school, there were about 50 grade sevens with wet cheeks. And I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Books have this amazing power to unveil real people better than the story themselves. Authors discover their true ideals and values when they write. Readers learn what they sympathize with, what they find valuable, and what their version of reality is. But for me, reality has no rewind button. Sure there are memories, but those are not re-liveable–simply re-watchable. Not to say that the first time you read is the same experience as when you reread, but the connection is similar, despite a sort of quasi-omniscience. 

What about you, people of the internet? Surely I’m not alone in this inability to cry at perfectly sad literature? What have books taught you about yourself? 

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” – John Green, The Fault In Our Stars




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