What’s the satisfaction in a sad story? My two greatest reading pleasures recently were Audrey Niffenegger’s novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Lorrie Moore’s short story, “People Like That Are The Only People Here,” beautiful stories that made we weep. The very first story that made me cry might have been Where the Red Fern Grows; I remember reading it in my bedroom, hiding on the far side of my bed, hoping I wouldn’t be interrupted by a call to dinner.

Libby’s new column is “Sad Stories and Why We Read Them;” here’s a taste:

SuperBowl Sunday. We’re sitting on the couch, nine-year-old Nick between Mark and me. I’m knitting, Nick is reading; only Mark is giving his full attention to the game. At some point, I look over Nick’s shoulder and see the arresting illustration from Bridge to Terabithia: a silhouette of Jess’s father holding his shattered son, who has just learned of his best friend’s death. I put my arm around Nick.

“It’s sad there, isn’t it?”

“It is. But you can’t really cry when you’re reading it to yourself — it’s not like when someone’s reading it to you — you need both your hands. So I can’t really cry.”

So he said, but the tears started a moment later. Released by my recognition, I think, they trickled — one, two — slowly out and down his cheeks. I kept my arm around him.

“It gets better,” I said. “I promise, it gets better at the end.”

Click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest, and let us know, what’s the last good book that made you cry?


  1. Violeta says:

    I loved this! Bridge to Terabithia was one of my favorite books when I was younger. I liked the question Libby raised about whether sad books are more useful for kids with “happy” lives or to those without, while ultimately being able to speak to both.

  2. Susan says:

    I love that column and I totally love sad books (and movies). Have you seen Bridge to Terabithia yet? I’d love to get your “Mama at the Movies” hit of it.