There's nothing like the catharsis that comes from the tears shed over a good book. With the turn of each page, my mind becomes more and more removed from the stress of daily life. The fact that my car broke down and I have 2 weeks worth of laundry piling up in the corner suddenly seem irrelevant. The bond that's quickly developed with the protagonist as you live through their pain and love with them is like magic. While sitting in our living room, my roommates and I tried to come up with a list of the best cry-until-your-face-is-sore books we've ever read. Check em' out (but you might want to grab a box of tissues first)!
Just Kids by Patti Smith
[Image Courtesy of the Rock Hall Library and Archive]
This memoir tells a story of youth, friendship, love, and riot during the late 60s and 70s in New York City. Smith's writing gives the reader an intimate look into the details of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and her work as an artist.
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Dysfunction is disguised as adventure for the Walls children. In the beginning, the family lives like nomads. They bounce around from one desert town to another as their parents refuse to play in to conformity, all the while disregarding the public school system and "learning from living". This memoir tore me apart while teaching me about the importance of unconditional love.
Play it as It Lays by Joan Didion
[Image Courtesy of Henry Clarke/The Condé Nast Archive]
Joan Didion's powerful prose in Play it as it Lays details an ex-actress's experience with pain and search for purpose while wandering through Southern California during the late 1960s . Read if: you're feeling a bit lost.
*SPOILER ALERT* You will find where you need to be, promise
Women by Chloe Caldwell
If I had to argue that heartbreak's favorite thing to do is trigger exploration of identity, I would use this novella by Chloe Caldwell for support. In it, the affair between two women nineteen years apart and the aftermath that unfolds is explored. Read to: feel understood.
It's about "the blurred line of female friendship, about being a daughter, a mother, a woman, and a friend." - Chloe Caldwell
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
[Image Courtesy of Call Me by Your Name. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, performances by Timotheé Chalemet and Armie Hammer, Sony Pictures Classics, 2018]
CMBYN centers on a relationship between Elio Perlman, an intelligent and curious 17 year-old boy, and Oliver, a 24 year-old scholar who visits the Perlman family in 1980s Italy. Written from Elio’s point of view, the story is an intimate narrative that captures the excitement and vulnerability that comes with finding love. As much as I love the story, I don’t plan on reading it again anytime soon (it made me very emotional) -- that is unless I’m vacationing somewhere in northern Italy with Timothée Chalamet...
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive."- Audre Lorde
Say it again for the ones in the back. Lorde's writing is powerful and intentional. This collection of essays and speeches takes on sexism, racism, class and more. This book gives me the courage to fight the good fight and seems to save me every time I open it.