Life in a Book

Some stories, whether in novel, song, poem or film, get right beneath my skin. They’re the ones that stay with me.

Paloma Faith
Paloma Faith

I’m obsessed at the moment with songs from Paloma Faith. I made mention of it on my site last week. It’s possible you’ve caught me posting on Facebook too. I’ve listened to both her albums for some time, but it’s now only that I’m relating to the lyrics. Is it that I’m paying proper attention to the words or that the songs are relevant to this point of my life? Or have my life experiences been such that I now understand more?

Recently, I read Sue Moorcroft’s Dream A Little Dream, and aspects of the story resonated within. It was the same with Me Before You, Jojo Moyes.When I read these books, their subject matter was extremely pertinent to what was happening in my life, and their effect on me was made all the more powerful by the skill and care with which the books were written.Sue Moorcroft DALD

The first book to make me cry was Love and Devotion, Erica James. If I remember rightly, I read it not long after I’d had my second child. I won’t give away the plot, but the questions the book raises, and the fact the tragedy that befalls the children in the story is not outside the realms of possibilty, affected me greatly.

Jodi Picoult and Laura.
Jodi Picoult and Laura.

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult, was the second book that made me weep.

I was watching Home Alone with Child Number Two a few days ago, and even though I warned him I would cry at the end of the film, he was still surprised by my emotion. ‘Really, Mum?’ he asked, eyebrows as high as the Empire State. ‘Really,’ I replied, as Gajitman passed across another Kleenex.

Have you ever watched Beaches? Yep. Makes me cry every time. Sound of Music does too. And I know why. It’s because I understand the parents’ point of view, and feel for the children. Since having my two, my tissue expenditure has increased ten-fold.

So, which books, films, songs or poems get beneath your skin? Which make you sob your heart out? Why are we affected so much by stories?

Laura x

42 thoughts on “Life in a Book

  1. Hi Laura,
    I’m so glad Dream a Little Dream affected you positively! 🙂

    Lots of films have made me cry but the most recent was Apollo 13. I think I cry more at triumph than at sad things. Otoh, I don’t watch many sad films because I don’t like to be made to feel sad! So that may have something to do with it …


    • Hi Sue. It’s not always the out and out sad ones that make me cry, although you have me wondering if I avoid them, too. I’ve not considered it before. ‘Feel good’ movies definitely bring a lump to my throat, as do stories that combine humour with tragedy. ‘Beaches’ is desperately sad, but it’s not a sad movie – it’s hopeful, and there are some proper belly laughs along the way.

  2. Great post, Laura. It’s certain parts of Love Actually that reduce me to a tissue strewn mess. All that love – the hugging, the funeral, the pain of putting family first, the break-ups. But then there’s the Hugh Grant ‘Jump’ dance sequence to make it all ok again. The Full Monty has the same effect on me. I think it’s the range of emotions and relationships. You might guess from this that I never watch really sad films. If the funny ones finish me off, heaven knows what the tear jerkers would do!

    Celia xx

    • Thanks, Ce. Ah – the comedy/tragedy element of which I just spoke. Can’t beat it for emotional impact.

  3. Lovely post. 🙂
    I don’t usually cry at films, I think the last one might have been Tarka The Otter. Books have a stronger effect but again there’s only been the odd occasion. I think it’s probably music that makes me most likely to shed a tear. A combination of lyrics, performance, vocals, arrangement and personal circumstances all coming together at the same time will trigger the tears.

    • Sue – yes! One’s with animals too. Oh. Let’s not go there – I can feel a surge of emotion rising as images of Lassie and Bambi flit through my mind.
      I’m deeply affected by music, too, as you know. When I was singing in competitions, my aim was to make the judges cry – in a good way. Obviously. I’d pick songs like ‘I’ll Stand By You’ (The Pretenders) and ‘Why’ (Annie Lennox). I once cried when I was singing ‘Wind Beneath My Wings.’ My mum had come with me to see how I was getting on, and I was singing it for her – the emotion got too much. Thankfully, it was a rehearsal.
      I’m beginning to think there is no hope for me 😉 xx

  4. This is going to sound rather ridiculous – if somewhat romantic – but one of my more memorable “weepy moments” at the movies was when I watched E.T. (Ages ago; makes me feel like a dinosaur) This rather ugly but endearing alien has a scene in which he says “E.T. go home” and i bawled my eyes out. Interestingly enough, the man at my side was sniffling as well. That’s when I knew he was the right guy for me 🙂
    Once a year I read Here be Dragons by Sharon Penman. Makes me cry in a most cathartic way. I cry when I read The Moon in the Water by Pamela Belle, ergo yet another recurring re-read. And let’s not get me started on The kingdom of Shadows by Barbara Erskine …
    But no, I don’t cry to Sound of Music, I sing. Maybe that makes someone else cry 🙂


    • Lol Anna! I love to sing. Everyone should sing. It’s good for your health. E.T got me too. I’d forgotten that one. You mention men crying – I was thinking about that a few moments ago and wondered if they’re set off by the same triggers as women. I’ve never known a book to make my man’s eyes mist over. Well, not in an emotional way.
      Thank you for dropping by.
      Laura 🙂

  5. Rolf Harris’ “Two Little Boys” always makes me cry: love and friendship in the face of adversity. I’m sure there’s something about becoming a parent like you mentioned earlier – I feel like a layer of emotional skin got stripped away and I get much weepier since becoming a mum.

    • Oh Katy – I’m beginning to think I’m an emotional wreck. Yes. This gives me goosebumps and watery eyes every time I hear it. Fantastic skin analogy. Thank you for popping in 🙂

  6. Songs, more than books and films, for me too. Memories, connotations, meanings… I STILL can’t listen to Snow Patrol or Savage Garden without being reduced to a weepy heap! In a book, I will cry if an animal dies – somehow I don’t relate the children in films or books to my own, but animals… I remember one book where a cat died that put me off the author’s entire subsequent output!

    • Jane, I promise no animals will be harmed in the writing of my novels. Just so I know – is there anything else that would stop you reading a writer’s entire output…? xx

      • *Performs mental check* I use ‘should have’, posiibly ‘bored with, and have never knowingly inflicted unnecessary cruelty on chocolate. I shudder at ‘off of’ – it’s ‘off’. End of. 😉 xx

  7. Lassie used to do it to me everytime – and yes I’m welling up now. In fact – it was the music to Black Beauty that used to have me bawling. And then when I think about it, when i was a little older – even the music to The Incredible Hulk did it! Had completely forgotten about that.
    Nowadays I’m with you on anything that involves children. Since becoming a mum, barely a day goes by when I don’t cry LOL. I make a concerted effort when I’m watching something with the boys, but invariably find myself the focus of attention, rather than the screen because they are just waiting to make fun of mummy. And yes – I am alway worse when you’ve got funny and sad together. Think it lulls you into a false sense of security so the sad just seems all the sadder, the funny all the funnier. Great post, Laura – going to be interesting returning to my WIP now with Black Beauty and The Incredible Hulk in my head 🙂 X

  8. Just don’t play the theme song to Love Story in my vicinity. Waaaah! Oh, dear, gets me every time. I watched it recently (yes, really). OK, it’s a little bit dated now, but… sniffle …the Christmas tree scene – breaks my heart. Oh, and Ghost… I’m sorry, Demi Moor teary-eyed, just makes me want to sob. Stop hogging the tissues, Laura. 🙂 xx

  9. Lovely post, Laura, thanks for sharing. I’m a moved by poetry fan. My ‘biggies’ that never fail to bring a tear to my eyes are: Carol Ann Duffy: Demeter – because it says so brilliantly what a daughter is. And Postscript by Seamus Heaney from his book’The Spirit Level.’ If you haven’t read these, Google and enjoy. But have a tissue ready.

  10. I’ve just got back from taking the dog for a walk and we always listen to radio 4 in the car (it calms us both down after stressful encounters in the park 🙂 ), and by coincidence the programme this am was all about why things like music and films make us cry (and women more than men) It’s a fascinating listen!. And then I got home, and this post was in my inbox – great coincidence! I remember once watching It’s a Wonderful Life with my daughter – both of us bawling – and her saying through her tears, “I don’t know why I always cry at this, when it’s got a really happy ending!” Happy or sad, we can cry at anything!

    • Hi Helena. That is a coincidence 🙂 I wonder what it is that hits our emotions time and time again, when we know the outcome.
      Thank you for stopping by. Laura.

  11. When you become a parent, you become so vulnerable, and this vulnerability lasts for the rest of your life. When I read Me Before You, I identified with Will’s parents and cried for them.

    • Vulnerability. That’s the word, Margaret. I’m now reminded of an Abba song that makes me cry – ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’. Beautiful words.
      Thank you for the inspiration. Laura xx

  12. Lots of things make me cry! The most recent has to be watching a celebration of dance at The Lighthouse in Poole. The dancing was fabulous, so much expression it just spoke straight to my heart. The most recent book to have me in floods is Ali Harris’ The First Last Kiss which to me was very powerful. Anything emotional to do with families is a sob story for me … oh dear!

    Fab post! x

    • Thanks, Sharon 🙂 You sound as if you not only hear the music, but feel it, like me. As for writing, I hope I will be able to write something that moves the reader.
      Thanks for staying over 😉 xx

  13. It’s songs for me. Especially Peter Gabriel Don’t Give Up and Gerry Rafferty’s The Right Moment. The words say it all. Mind you, when I was younger, one of the first books I read was Born Free and to this day, I cannot re read it. As for current books,The Snow Child takes some beating with ones emotions.

    • Ah, Jan – you’re preaching to a Kate Bush fan. Fantastic song. Have you seen the video? It’s so simple, but extremely effective. I may have to investigate The Snow Child, Thank you for the recommendation. Laura 🙂

  14. I’m a serial cryer. I even feel emotional at the new McDonalds ad. I literally sobbed watching the movie Black Beauty, and this week The Secret Millionaire in Ireland really got me, as the recipient of a huge cheque was so overcome. I almost convulsed at the end of West Side Story, and also the end of The Incredible Journey (the original). There’s a difference in happy tears and sad tears though, and I can’t say I enjoy sad sad endings, though I love happy sad ones. I can’t watch a tragic movie that’s based on reality – I’ve never seen Titanic, or Schindler’s List for those reasons, or war movies where hundreds/thousands die. Music is very moving, sometimes for itself, sometimes because it reminds of someone/thing. I find the Intermezzo from Cavaleria Rusticana extremely moving. And books can make me cry, the most recent being Sue M’s Starting Over – pages towards the end were raw emotion.

    All night now, I’ll be remembering other books/movies/songs/tv shows that make me cry, but I promise to resist the urge to spam the board!

    • Liv – this is one of my favourite and moving pieces of classical – just feel those violins. They fill my soul. It’s a whole body experience. I’m already holding back tears. A story with no words, and yet conveys it’s point beautifully.
      Laura xx

  15. Many pieces of Classical music, from Grieg to Rachmaninoff make me sad, in a good way, but the one piece of film music that makes me blubber is ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ from ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ sung by Louis Armstrong. It’s so evocative, I see him holding her in his arms at the end, and they had no time at all. (It also has a very personal meaning to me, which I won’t go into.) Another one is ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Dolly Parton. She gives it such exquisite expression and feeling. I’m afraid any other version just doesn’t do it for me.

    • Both great songs, Hywela. I too am a fan of Dolly’s version. I like the honesty and simplicity of it. Thank you for coming by 🙂 Laura.

  16. Late to the party! Beaches kills me every time and I can’t watch Bambi, Up, Always, The Sixth Sense, Ghost…(the list is long) without curling up into a blubbering mess. I think as others have said, it is a combination of music, good acting and story. I have a lump in my throat just thinking about them. And I guess my all time ‘feel good’ movie is Stand By Me. I never tire of it. x

    • Next time you’re this way, Mandy, we’ll have a Beaches fest, and we can sob our hearts out. Stand By Me, with a young Wesley Crusher, Wil Wheaton. I’m smiling. Can you tell? Laura xx

  17. I’ve just thought of some music that makes me cry every time. Katie Price’s entry in Song for Europe.

  18. I’m with Margaret on this – having my daughters did for my tough cookie act when I lost several layers of skin! I cry very easily and over the stupidest things!

    • Hi Chris. Thank you for stopping by. I feel as if I cry over daft things, too. Liv’s comment re crying at the McDonald’s advert made me smile, as I’ve been known to shed a tear or two over ads, but some of them are very succinct short stories, so why shouldn’t they tug at our heartstrings? Just typing aloud, here 🙂 Laura xx

  19. OMG ~ I cry at the drop of a hat. Recent book tears ~ Me Before You. I finished reading it in bed and my pillow was absolutely soaked. I felt out of sorts with raw emotion for days; and am still not sure how I feel about that, LOL! Film ~ the English Patient. I wasn’t prepared for it the first time, but the second time I saw it, I started crying half way through, especially at all the little symbolisms (handprints against car window in sandstorm morphing into his scarry skin and such like). Also Titanic. Having seen it at least five times, I still refuse to believe the blooming ship will sink; and when it does, surely, SURELY, Jack can’t die?? Me and tears, it’s quite embarrassing. Great post, loved reading everyone’s responses too. X

    • Nicky – you may have answered one of my earlier questions as to why it is we can weep over a story we’ve read or a film we’ve seen before. We suspend our belief, and we hope for the best outcome, ignoring the fact we actually know how it’s going to end. Hang on. Does knowing the ending increase our enjoyment of the story? My lovely step-dad used to say he liked films better the second time of viewing, for that reason. 🙂
      Thanks for calling in, Nicky. Laura xx

  20. Talk about its in the zeitgeist – By a strange coincidence I was photographing some items of stationery for a blog post which I’ll be writing in a few weeks. It will be about my Vistaprint Addiction – oh yes, you little beauties, come to Mamma. No squalid detail will be left out – then up popped your post – coincidence, or what? Like all the writers who have commentated above, I’ve got notebooks and folders far too pretty to ever be USED. That’s why I scribble my ideas in a grotty £1 Reporter’s Notebook from Waitrose or in my Moleskine Diary.

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