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{15/01/2013}   Books that make you cry

I am about two thirds through a book that I just know is going to end horribly sadly, “The Snow Girl”.  I am enjoying reading it and I do want to know how it will end but I can’t quite bring myself to read it on the train or in public as I have been known to sob uncontrollably and snivel snottily while reading a book and I just can’t and won’t embarrass myself in that way or inflict it on fellow passengers who will either be concerned or annoyed about a passenger sobbing wretchedly.  But I kind of like that books can affect me in that way as one of the greatest pleasures I elicit from reading is that I become absorbed in the story and reading can be pure escapism for me.

I say “can be” pure escapism because biographies and more serious books are not the same.  Actually, to be more precise, it’s stories, in the “Once upon a time … The End” sense, that affect me most.  This is why I absolutely love fairy tales and children’s stories.  “The Snow Girl” is based upon a Russian fairytale and is set in Alaska and the snow girl was (or so we are led to believe) created in snow by a couple devastated by the death of their stillborn baby.  She visits them regularly every winter and lives in the snow, fending for herself.  She is so going to melt one day and I am going to be inconsolable!  But do I take this book with me on the train, where I have about 50 minutes of precious reading time, or do I start another book, a more cheery one, to dispense with the embarrassment of sobbing in public?  It is not an option to “control myself” as that just isn’t how I work.  I have read a book on the train before, with similar issues inevitable, and managed to stop reading it around about the point I could tell something distressing was going to happen, but then it’s really frustrating as I just want to know what does happen, to see it in print.  Plus, my imagination goes into overdrive and I manage to think of a selection of awful things that could happen next, which merely serves to make me feel a bit morose.

Unsurprisingly, I have also been caught unawares with an upsetting twist in a story that has made me cry.  It’s really disturbing to suddenly burst into tears in public, though at least those sitting near you are likely to realise it’s because of the book you’re reading.  I did once read a book on a train – I can’t for the life of me think what book it was – but I was caught completely unawares by a tragic and upsetting development so ended up snivelling somewhat.  I got off the train at the last stop, as did a girl who had been sitting diagonally across the table from me.  As we were getting off the train, she made some comment about the book and the bit she’d worked out I’d just read and that it had made her cry too!  We had a good conversation about the book!

Writing this has made me realise that I will take another book to read in public.  I will, however, brace myself for an evening of sobbing, puffy face and pure misery, which will then end up being an unexpectedly cheery reflection on the book because up to now it’s been lovely and it’s obvious the snow girl has helped this couple a lot …

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