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The Crying Book

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  443 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Award-winning poet Heather Christle has just lost a dear friend to suicide and must reckon with her own struggles with depression and the birth of her first child. How she faces her joy, grief, anxiety, impending motherhood, and conflicted truce with the world results in a moving meditation on the nature, rapture, and perils of crying―from the history of tear-catching ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Catapult
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 ·  443 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Fiction or non-fiction, I want a story. Sadly, this had none but just incomplete ones and snippets. So no.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve always been fascinated by the roles tears play in women’s lives. This book by the marvellous poet Heather Christel is a meditation on tears from those of children to those of mothers to those of philosophers. It touches on the shame of tears, the weaponizing of tears and so many other things. And there is a section that discusses the burial rites of dolls overseen by their young guardians that is both hilarious and deeply profound. This book will make you weepy. I loved it.
Paris (parisperusing)
“Empathy can be a hole through which one falls into despair. Tears make the ground slippery. And then what? Satisfaction for the depth of one’s feelings? If I am not myself in danger, then my imagining myself into the place of another’s suffering unnecessarily incapacitates me, makes me unable to move some small part of my day in a direction that would make other lives more possible. And at this moment, my body still working to knit itself back together, the task is not to fall apart. The task ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs, nonfic
I have many complicated feelings about this book so coming up with a rating took some deliberating. The biggest hang up I have is definitely my expectations going in. I love the idea of a book that explores crying. Crying is such a common practice for me (which, wow, doesn't make me sound very stable, but whatever I'm a watery bitch) that this book quickly became a highly anticipated release.

But here's the thing: while in theory this is everything I wanted, the execution left me wanting. This
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, fall-2019
Why do we cry? How do we cry? And what does it mean? A scientific, cultural, artistic examination by a young poet on the cusp of motherhood.
Jo Chang
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"It may interest you for a while to touch your swollen face, to peer into one bloodshot eye and another, but the beauty’s really in the movement, in watching your mouth try to swallow despair" (8)
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i saw Heather Christle do a reading at my grad program 5-6 years ago and she mentioned she was writing a book on crying and ever since then i've periodically googled "heather christle crying book" because i wanted to read it and then FINALLY IT WAS MINE her writing is wonderful and this book is excellent 10/10 would cry again <3 <3
Vincent Scarpa
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"I say book. I mean poem. I mean the way the landscape suddenly reveals itself in layers, a vertical light shining its connective beam from one moment to the next. An entry into — an awareness of — a dimension always present. Not always seen. I think if I can keep myself alive to it, it will keep me from going under."

Nothing less than a book which recreates the terms by which one might, somehow, live.
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and deeply moving. This fragmentary examination of tears expertly mixes poetic thought, science, and the author's own relationship to sadness, joy, and crying. Everyone who has ever cried should read this book.
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was not expecting the format, but I really liked how she approached the weaving together of her own experiences with detours into research and experiences of crying. Christle is a poet and that shows in this volume.

A few quotes that I had marked in the book:
"The car is a private crying area. If you see a person crying near a car, you may need to offer help. If you see a person crying inside a car, you know they are already held." (<--crying in the car is definitely my jam)

"Most crying
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
When was the last time that you really cried, and what was the reason? Be vulnerable and transparent here with me, just like the actual act of crying. When were you so overcome with grief and moved so deeply, drowned in the oceanic water that stains our cheeks with agony, elation, or somber streaks that are proof of our tangibility. Like an old brick well russet and tanned from years in the sun suddenly overflowed and pooling from deep within our physical embodiment. When was the last time you ...more
Kelci Jacoby
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was not sure what to expect when I got this book in the mail, but all I can say is wow! I am someone who apologizes every single time I cry (even when my dad passed away) and this beautiful text validated all of the tears I cry, whether they’re from grief, happiness (some books are just too pure), frustration or anger. Thank you, Heather! You have written a winner.

I won this book through a goodreads giveaway. Thank you to catapult (Elizabeth Ireland) and Heather Christle.
Deedi (DeediReads) Brown
All my reviews live at

First, big thanks to the folks over at Catapult for sending me a finished copy of The Crying Book. Accurately described as “a dazzling meditation on tears” and “a symphonic work of nonfiction,” it is a masterpiece.

“When I am not in despair I can barely even describe it. It is a trap door in my life. A bridge to nowhere. It is only a metaphor, a line. But one I send my love across.”

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to see the world
Afton Montgomery
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Crying Book is intensely meta and layered in every direction. I love nothing more than the melding of the scientific and the literary, and with this exploration of tears, Heather Christle creates just that. In short bursts that are compulsively readable, she breaks down the endlessly frustrating and artificial wall between "the academic" and "the feminine," encouraging a discomfort with her emotionality (and then encouraging a critique of that discomfort). A new go-to recommendation for ...more
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book is a lachrymatory for the author's tears. It's written in short bursts containing poignant memories, details and facts. Honestly, I loved this book so much I'm not sure what to say about it.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
When, where, why do we cry? How is it that some are predisposed to cry little and others to weep endlessly? Why does it so often feel shameful? When does it relieve us, does it trap us in depression? Peaceful and powerful, The Crying Book is a poetic examination of the art of weeping. Poet Heather Christle meditates on tears, grief, in a graceful mourning song held together by personal experiences, scientific insight, and her most beloved—poetry. In the face of great loss, Christle’s account is ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those remarkable books that you can tell a great amount of effort went into, yet it feels effortless.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A revelation. Read it
And weep.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I was little my dad used to record onto VHS tapes my crying fits that he deemed overly dramatic and trivial, as a deterrent for temper tantrums. Later, as a terribly overly emotionally teenager and adult he would shake his head and ask me if I was crying about something real, or if it was the act of crying that I enjoyed. It's led to me being very confused when I cry at random moments about his death, about whether I'm crying from grief or performing grief.

Heather Christle, the poet and
4.5. oof.
This book is so personal and beautifully written. I learned a lot and appreciate the depths of Christle's self-awareness.

"I say book. I mean poem. I mean the way the landscape suddenly reveals itself in layers, a vertical light shining its connective beam from one moment to the next. An entry into - an awareness of - a dimension always present. Not always seen. I think if I can keep myself alive to it, it will keep me from going under."
Sofia Sears
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
lyrical, simmering, slow. strangely, this reads like a love letter to tears, and yet also a bittersweet meditation on whose tears are recorded, seen, believed, and whose are not. feels like the way wind snaps against your eyes during the winter. sure, christle is "nelson-esque," but she sculpts a language all her own, something lonely and plummeting, a sort of vial of tears that knows how quickly it'll evaporate and still tries to capture the water anyways.
Chelsea Bieker
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so many things at once. Eerie in a way, with such arresting language. There were times I had to put it down and take a breath between sections. It felt like such poetry to me, but also wove this heart stopping memoir throughout. I loved this book.
Kate Grace
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read Heather Christle’s striking and cathartic The Crying Book, for the first time, in just one day.

This book is not easy to categorize in terms of genre; the text enmeshes poetry and memoir, research review and literary analysis. But I LOVE how the complexity in author’s craft and structure speaks to the complexity in subject matter: Why do we cry? This is one of those books I know I’ll return to, reread.

Thank you to Heather Christle, Catapult, and Goodreads Giveaways for my copy of The
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Plusieurs pépites dans ce petit livre.

Most crying happens at night. People cry out of fatigue. But how horrible it is to hear someone say, “She’s just tired!” Tired, yes, certainly, but just? There is nothing just about it.


Tears are a sign of powerlessness, a “woman’s weapon.” It has been a very long war.

Yi-Fei Chen, a design student in the Netherlands, literalized the metaphor after a demanding professor made her cry. She constructed a brass gun that collects, freezes, and shoots tears: tiny
Megan Bell
Jul 30, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019
The Crying Book is a lyrical, literary, and marauding meditation on a human act with a long history of mystery and misunderstanding. Poet Heather Christle began researching and writing this sui generis social science memoir at a time when tears were most copious for her, while both grieving the suicide of a close friend and anxiously preparing for the birth of her daughter. What emerges from Christle’s exploration of the act of crying is both intimate and intellectual, particular and profound, ...more
This book is a collection of short passages detailing the history, science, and literary significance of crying, weaved together with Christle's own experiences of tears, grief, and despair. So much of this book was so interesting, and although I first saw the short passages as frustratingly brief, I came to understand that the structure mimics the way a person thinks: bits of gathered information intermixed with our own experiences of the subject. Christle also points out the sexism and racism ...more
Jami Nakamura Lin
I loved this so much. In a fragmentary, lyric fashion, Christle tells us about the philosophical, psychological, physical, emotional, historical aspects of crying--while always bringing it back to the white hot center: herself. Other similar topic-focused works aren't as effective because while the topic might be interesting, we as readers think: so what? Here, we understand why Christle's deep dive into crying research is important: we see it in fragments about her friend who died by suicide, ...more
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Crying Book is a hybrid that moves between essay, poem, research, and memoir. It’s not a long read and it contains short paragraphs that move on to new thoughts. The book stays on the topic of crying through its terms, personal anecdotes, and research but it also branches into topics like phantom limbs, poetry readings, doll burials, suicide, patriarchy, anti-war protests, apartheid, postpartum depression, among others. What grounds the book is Heather Christle’s very personal story weaved ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
The Crying Book contains what feels like numerous different books inside it. There are memoir elements, a history of crying, as well as poetry. The subject matter is interesting and Christle has a clear gift for writing but the short paragraphs that jumped quickly from subject to subject made it hard to me to connect emotionally with this book.

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Heather Christle is author of the poetry collections The Difficult Farm (2009); The Trees The Trees (2011), which won the Believer Poetry Award; What Is Amazing (2012); and Heliopause (2015). Her first work of nonfiction, The Crying Book, will be out in November 2019. A former creative writing fellow in poetry at Emory University, Christle’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Boston Review, ...more
“Most crying happens at night. People cry out of fatigue. But how horrible it is to hear someone say, “She’s just tired!” Tired, yes, certainly, but just? There is nothing just about it.” 2 likes
“Some people think of reading poems and stories as a way to practice responding to imagined circumstances, without having to risk dangers of real life.” 2 likes
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