Bookish Musings: Why Do Some Books Make Us More Emotional Than Others?


Ok, so, there are some books that have emotional situations in them, and my brain understands that the things happening are emotional, that the character is feeling things, that it would be horrible to ever be in that situation for real… yet, for some reason, I just don’t really feel emotional.

But then there are other books that I just feel in my gut, my chest, my whole body. I myself get tense and on-edge and upset and teary. I actually feel what the characters are feeling right along with them.

So that got me to thinking, why? Why is that some books do that to me while others don’t? Let’s discuss!

Emotional Situations

Obviously the actual situations in the book are a factor in how emotional a book will make us. If a book is all rainbows and unicorns, then you’re not going to end up crying or feeling tense because there’s nothing to cry or feel tense about.

However, for me personally, simply having an emotional situation in a book doesn’t guarantee I’ll feel emotional, it only means there’s potential for emotion. For example, when a character in a book dies, it’s usually not the actual death I’m sad about. As much as we all like to joke, I know that fictional characters are just that: fictional. They’re not people I actually know or who are my friends or who anyone in real life is actually going to miss in the way a real person would be missed. One of my absolute top favorite characters is dead, but it didn’t bring a single tear to my eye when it happened. However, I’ve shed tears over characters who didn’t even make any of my favorites lists simply because I felt what the other still-living characters were feeling about the death. That is the reason character deaths (and other emotional things, but I was using death as the example) affect me. And that brings me to the next possibility…


The Writing

I think the way a book is written has a major impact on how emotional it makes me. Somehow, some writers are just better able to make me feel through the characters, to put me in their heads—even the ones who aren’t POV characters—and really hit me with all the feels. Whereas other writers make me feel more like I’m just watching the characters from the outside rather than living through them. That’s why a character death in one might might make me cry while a death in another book might not make me feel a thing.

I have no idea how authors actually do this though. That’s what has me so perplexed. It has nothing to do with POV since I’ve read 3rd person books that made me emotional and 1st person books that made me feel distanced. And as I just said, good authors will make me just as emotional about characters whose heads I’m not even in. It’s like there’s some sort of X factor at work.



Another possibility could be that we feel emotion more when it’s a situation we’re familiar with ourselves. At least, I’m pretty sure I do, and, from what I’ve seen in others’ reviews, I’m pretty sure other people do too. It makes sense. If we’ve been through something ourselves, we know exactly how it feels. We don’t have to try and form a new understanding, we simply have to call up a memory, one that comes complete with all the emotions and thoughts and effects and nuances.

Maybe how much we relate to the characters has an effect too. If we see ourselves in a character and find them relatable, it’s probably easier to put ourselves in their shoes and then feel what they’re feeling, even if it’s something we haven’t felt personally.


Our Mood

I suppose our mood at the time of reading could be a factor too. If we’re already in a somber mood, emotional books might hit us harder. If we’re stressed and distracted, we not be able to sink into the emotions of a book very well. Etc., etc.


Final Thoughts

I feel like the writing itself is the only thing that truly explains how two different books can both have the same situation but one doesn’t make us feel while the other does, and that’s something that still baffles me because how? I’ve read some books in which I’m really not sure what the authors could’ve done differently, but for some reason I just didn’t feel very much while reading. But I guess that’s what makes some authors really stand out; they just have that magical writing touch. And I’m sure the other things do factor in sometimes too. But it’s still always kind of strange—and disappointing—when a book that I logically know is emotional doesn’t actually make me feel that way.


Talk to me!

Are you an emotional reader?
Do emotional situations themselves make you emotional, or does it depend on how they're written?
What things do you think factor into how emotional a book makes you?


Your Thoughts


79 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: Why Do Some Books Make Us More Emotional Than Others?

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  1. Zeee @ I Heart Romance

    I am an extremely emotional reader! I think the first time my husband saw me cry was when we were dating and I was reading a book and for some reason, I was bawling…and he looked at me all weird and asked what was wrong… anyway, he is used to it by now.

    And I honestly tear up at different situations. It doesn’t have to be a character death but a certain scene or a character monologue or a character feeling? IDK exactly. It also depends on what mood I am in, I guess?

    I also agree with you on relatability. There are just certain books that you immediately relate to IRL or maybe it was similar to what happened to you? I know I do tear up on those moments.

    Oh, and just because we are talking about emotion, I am also an emotional movie watcher and tear up at certain movies.. say.. Wreck it Ralph and when he said he loved cake but he hasn’t had any since nobody throws cake in the garbage? ABSOLUTELY CRIED!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol that’s how you know someone is the one: they accept your strange bookworm ways πŸ˜‰

      I agree, it’s not just character death that’s emotional, lots of other things can be too.

      Yeah, I think if something similar has happened to you in real life, it does feel more emotional since you really know what it feels like for the character.

      I tend to cry more while watching movies than reading books I think. But hahaha, I love that that was the part in Wreck It Ralph that made you cry!

  2. Christy LoveOfBooks

    Totally agree with what you say. It definitely comes down the the writing. I enjoy getting emotional while reading, because I don’t like to do it in ‘real life’. So it’s disappointing when I read something that SHOULD hit me hard, but doesn’t.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m glad someone else gets it, how it’s disappointing when it seems like something *should* make you emotional but then it doesn’t. I do think it must be in the writing.

  3. Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    I find when a book is relatable to me, it get to me the easiest. Or when I have gone into it completely unaware and something bad or unexpected happens. I find the best way to read books is to go into them blind. Great discussion!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I think it is easier to feel emotional when you can actually relate to what’s happening to the character in the book. And I never thought of that, but you’re right, when you’re completely not expecting something bad to happen but then it does, that can also hit your harder! I rarely go into books blind though, I’m one of those people who likes to read like 27 reviews before deciding lol. Thanks!

  4. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    I’m sue relatability has a lot to do with me getting emotional. And come to think of it, I don’t really get very emotional reading (at least not sad-wise). I do hate it when an animal dies in a book and actually have a harder time dealing with that than when people die (the animal lover in me coming out). Also, there are just some people I don’t find connections with. For example, I jumped on The Fault in Our Stars bandwagon and had to read the book and then see the movie and both fell flat for me. I liked the characters, but wasn’t really sad about any of it. Maybe I’m just insensitive. I’ve been told that before. I did child abuse investigations for MANY years and I think it sort of hardened my perception and emotions and it has carried over to other parts of my life.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I definitely think relatability can have an impact, but for me I don’t think it’s entirely necessary. But I can see how animal deaths would make you especially more emotional. But idk, I mean, in real life I’ve always been very easily affected the emotions of people around me and people I care about, whereas in books it’s hard for me to get truly emotional. It takes a really good writer. So I don’t think how emotional a person is while reading is necessarily an indication of how they are in real life.

  5. Lola

    Oh great post! I was so intrigued by the topic when I saw the e-mail about this post I had to go and read it straight away. I actually rarely get very emotional when reading, although that’s also in part because I don’t like to feel emotional when reading so I often pick what I read based on that and also keep my distance mentally a bit.
    I remember two books and one tv series episode that made me very emotional and all those cases it wasn’t the actual scene or even what the character felt, but the implication of how sad that event was and how torn I would be if that happened. All three things where subjects that make me very emotional or I had a personal connection to the topic in some way to the topic that made me feel more emotional. Although I also remember some books that made me feel slightly emotional and I often mention that in my review as it doesn’t happen as often. And sometimes even the happy scenes can make me feel emotional.

    But yes the writing is also a big part, some authors can write scenes much more emotional than others. Like character death’s, I’ve read quite some character death scenes, but some make me emotional and others not at all and often it’s how the author wrote it and also the effect on the characters who are left behind. I also remember a scene from a book where it wasn’t clear if someone a side character loved was still alive or not. It wasn’t even an important side character I think she only appeared in that scene, but the way that scene was written was very well done and it made me fear so much for the safety of that other side character. And like you said point of view rarely has anything to do with the emotional feel of a scene. I am keeping track of my books this year and I’ve noticed how rarely I actually notice which pov I am reading. I don’t know how often I had to pick up the book again and check a page to check the pov.

    I think the books that made me most emotional all had to do with relatability, either me knowing how that scene feels or having some sort of personal experience with what’s going on. There are some topics that make me very emotional and I usually try to avoid them at all costs as those can make me very emotional even if it’s a badly written scene. And indeed my mood or emotional state at that moment also plays a role in how I experience a scene. Although not always in the way I might expect. I can remember a book i read and loved right after we lost our last pet rat and I was in a sad mood a lot and that book seemed even better as it gave me an escape from my own emotions at that time.

    And sometimes it can be really hard to say why one scene does make me emotional and the other not. I also have had some of those scenes where I know they should be emotional, but I don’t feel anything. And I can’t really say what the author could’ve done differently.

    I think it’s interesting how reading is actually so personal when you think about it. How we experience a book, what we like and don’t like and what makes us emotional really varies from person to person. It makes me think of that quote how now two people read the same book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Glad you like my topic πŸ˜€ I love when a book can make me emotional, so I’m the opposite and usually try to find ones that will.

      That’s interesting because what you described is the opposite for me. Like, when I get emotional while reading/watching, it’s usually not because of the implication or how I’d feel but rather how emotional the scene itself is and how the characters feel. But oh, yeah, I am a total sap and am far more likely to cry over something sweet than something sad lol, so happy scenes can get to me too.

      Exactly, for deaths specifically, whether I get sad or not usually depends on the effect it has on the characters who are left behind. That’s why I can re-read a book, for example, and know that the character actually survives, but I’ll still get emotional reading about the “death.” And I’m the same way, I usually have to open the book again to see what the POV was, so yeah, it’s not based on that.

      Relatability does have an impact I think. There are some books that I’ll avoid if I think they might hit too close to home. And I agree, sometimes our emotional state at the moment can affect the experience, but not always in the way we expect.

      It’s always so fascinating to me how reading is so personal, like you said. That quote is so true!

  6. Wattle

    I am an emotional reader (also tv shows/movies/news stories can set me off. It’s TERRIBLE, even happy ones do it lol) but I feel like when it comes to reading it’s more about being close to something I’ve experienced/worry about experiencing/can understand. Empathy, I guess. If I can put myself in the character’s shoes, I risk feelings.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh gosh, I tend to get far more emotional over happy things lol. Like, I can’t even watch a video of someone proposing without crying. I can’t even imagine what I would be like if anyone ever proposed to me. I definitely love the empathy aspect of reading, but for some reason I still don’t find a lot of books that truly make me emotional and really make me FEEL what the character is feeling, even if I understand their emotions.

  7. Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    Agreed! I’m really impressed if an author can write such emotion that I’m moved to tears. Anyone can write a sad scene, but it takes a talented writer to gut me. Of course that also depends on how we’re feeling. The only time I’ve had the reliability aspect was while reading The Hate U Give. I think I cried 5 separate times.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m impressed by that too. I feel like it’s so hard for me to find though! But yeah, it’s not hard to write a scene in which something sad happens. But to actually make me FEEL it? That takes talent. I think the other things do factor in sometimes though too. And wow, that book really got to you!

  8. Laurie @ Bark's Book Nonsense

    For me, I think it comes to down to both my emotional state and the writing. There are some books that destroy people like A Little Life that only managed to barely move me a time or two. I often wonder if I’m emotionally dead because I’ve read so many books but then something will hit me in all the right ways and I know I’m still alive somewhere deep down in there πŸ˜‰

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol it’s so weird because, in real life, I’ve always been very susceptible to other people’s emotions, but then when I read I feel like I must be emotionally dead too since I don’t seem to get emotional often while reading. Other people will get emotional over books, then I read them and don’t feel anything. But yeah, I think it is the writing because every so often I will come across a book that will just hit me!

  9. Greg

    Emotions are funny in books. I don’t know if I’m an OVERLY emotional reader per se, but there have definitely been situations where a book rocked my world. I think you’re absolutely right- a lot of it is the writing. Some writers can just do that, make it feel REAL- and some writers can do that for certain people. It’s all subjective. I think that X factor is just the way a writer can affect us and another doesn’t- there’s like magic there.

    And sometimes a twist is so stunning that it literally leaves me thinking about it for days… there was a scene at the end of The Blue that did that. That produces an emotion of its own. Or a book once where there was a romance and two people were going to come together for the first time in a LONG time, and I was totally invested. Like literally on the edge of my seat. Some writers just have it. πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I really think it does have a lot to do with the writing, and some authors just have that talent or skill to make you feel. Although it probably is different for each reader too. The same book can make some people emotional and others feel nothing. There’s definitely some sort of X factor involved.

      That’s true, really good, shocking twists can hit you like a punch and leave you reeling, and it is kind of an emotion of its own. And haha, I just posted a review tonight for a book that made me legit giddy when the characters finally got together, so I definitely know what you’re talking about.

  10. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    GAH I am in love with this topic, because I have absolutely wondered this myself. SO. MANY. TIMES. Like, I finished a book that had me legit SOBBING (Goodbye Days) and then I was reading another book and I was just like “aw, that’s sad” when like, a pretty important character died. And I am a huge crier, so I feel like I am pretty in tune with my levels of emotion for a book. Like, certain books/authors have me at an actual loss of breath, some I shed a few tears, and some I inexplicably have no emotion toward. And I think you are right about there being a certain factor that we can’t quite put into words- it’s just that something special that makes a book move you emotionally. And probably a combination of a lot of things- good writing, characters that you care about, high stakes plot, etc. But if that “thing” is missing… it won’t work. I read a book about a girl mourning the death of her sister- the WHOLE book was about this- and I was just… not moved. But then I have cried buckets over more minor deaths. So yes, VERY thought provoking post!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! It really is baffling sometimes though. It has to be the writing. Or the X factor. Or maybe it really is just a combination, and sometimes everything aligns perfectly! There are times even when I’ve reread a book and felt just as emotional the second time even though I was surely in a different mood the second time around, but some authors just have the special touch. Glad you like the post!

  11. Geybie's Book Blog

    I agree with you. The writing, our current mood, and relatability are the factors. I’m trying to not reading at all if I’m aware that my mood is over the place, or sometimes I’m choosing the book that matches my mood. My mood can negatively affect my reviews.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It must just be some perfect combination of things, right? It is unfortunate though when our mood gets in the way of a book we might’ve otherwise loved.

  12. chucklesthescot

    I’m not a greatly emotional reader. I read a ton of apocalypse books which means a lot of deaths of characters I like but I don’t usually shed tears. I might get shocked or angry but I rarely cry. The writing has to be really good to make me feel that level of emotion. JK Rowling managed it with a few of her deaths in the later books. I find I’m more affected by deaths in series where I’m invested in the characters rather than stand-alone reads. It’s all about the writing for me and how I feel about the characters.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I almost never actually cry while reading either. It also takes a good author to make me emotional. I didn’t end up crying in the HP books though. For me, the most emotional death in that series (spoiler obviously for anyone who hasn’t read it) was Sirius’s because of how Harry reacted and Lupin has to drag him away even though he too was upset. But Lupin is actually one of my favorite characters ever, and his death didn’t make me shed a tear because it was just glossed over like, “Oh yeah, he died in the battle,” and that was it. So for me it’s definitely a lot about the writing, not just the characters.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I do think it might partly depend on mood for me too. Haha, if I were you, I’d use that to my advantage and read as much as possible during that time since I like books that can make emotional!

  13. Cee Arr

    I think all those things are importantable (it’s a word now dammit!)

    I think character plays into it a lot for me – y’know, did I like this person? Do I feel for them? (Would I protect them with every beat of my fangirling heart…? lol.) πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      You can make up whatever words you like on my blog! Haha.

      Yeah, when a character is likeable, I think it’s a lot easier to feel for them and feel the emotion they’re feeling.

  14. Literary Feline

    Reading for me is all about the feelings. Well, maybe not ALL, but close. πŸ™‚ I am a very emotional reader. I cry at the drop of a dime when I am reading–if I am invested in the story and the characters. I think a lot of it has to do with the writing, and the author’s ability to create characters I can easily relate or connect to. I’m sure, too, my own personal experiences or where I am in the moment may play a part as well.

    What you said about the death of a character not necessarily being a trigger for you, but the reaction of those who survived having an impact on you is spot on for me. Even in real life, I sometimes struggle with keeping my eyes dry when someone around me is in a lot of emotional pain and crying. I tend to be sensitive to others emotions like that. So it figures it would carry over in books.

    My sensitivity to others feelings doesn’t just come in times of death though. I can cry over happy moments, painful moments, and anything in between. I feel so easily what the characters are going through–but again, only if I am invested in the story and with the lives of the characters.

    For me, I cry more when reading or watching movies than I do over real life situations. I work in a profession where I deal with some very difficult situations. I can’t break down and cry every time a call comes in about a child death or I hear about a six year old being raped or beaten by her father, for example. I can’t let emotion get in the way of me doing my job. And so books (and movies/TV) have sort of become my safe outlet for those emotions I am not allowed to express while working. I think that’s why I enjoy emotional reads so much. πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Same for me, emotion is my favorite thing about reading. Except I find it hard to find books that actually make me feel emotional. Which is odd since I also have always been very affected by the emotions of people around me.

      Oh gosh, I’m actually more likely to cry at sweet, happy, sappy things lol.

      That is tough. I can see how you’d be more likely to cry while reading than in real life if you work in a profession like that. The books/movies are like a catharsis. I sometimes find books/movies to be like that too. Like, if I’m going through a lot in real life, I might read/watch something and all the sudden feel like bursting into tears because the emotion in the book brings out all that other emotion I’ve been holding in. Just another reason to love book so much!

  15. Michelle @ FaerieFits

    I definitely think there’s something magic about the writing. Like you, I’ve never really been able to pinpoint what ABOUT the writing makes it work so well, but I know it when I see it! And there are authors who consistently pull me into that emotional zone, and authors who NEVER do. And some of my biggest “I’m crying” moments have come from random characters that I had ZERO emotional attachment to until something happened, and had zero relatable experiences to/with. So that basically leaves the writing, lol. I just want to know HOW to do it!

    1. Kristen Burns

      There is something magic sometimes, right? There’s no other explanation, and I’ve never been able to pinpoint it either. Same, it’s surprising sometimes the scenes and characters that have made me emotional. I’d love to know how to do it too since I want to be able to write emotional books one day!

  16. Reg @ She Latitude

    I’m not much of an emotional reader – definitely an emotional watcher, though – but I do get occasionally emotional! I think you’re spot-on with the things that you’ve mentioned, although for me relatability and mood are probably the biggest things of all. If I could very easily relate to the protagonist’s predicament and if I’m in a sad mood, I’m much more likely to be emotional when the protagonist is emotional too. It happens veeeeeery rarely though – I just don’t tend to be super invested when I read, save for some select titles. πŸ˜›

    Great post!

    1. Kristen Burns

      For some reason I’m also more emotional while watching movies than while reading, which is odd because I feel less connected to characters in movies? Something about actually seeing them cry or upset just gets to me. But yeah, I think all these things play at least some part for me. But it’s also hard for me to find books that make me that invested!

  17. Amy

    This is such an interesting discussion topic! You’re absolutely right, sometimes I don’t cry at some of my favorite characters dying, and sometimes I cry over a character that I got, um, one sentence out of. I guess some authors just have that magical touch? It’s definitely a mystery!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! And exactly, it’s baffling why some things that should make us sad don’t and vice versa. Some authors do just have a magical touch, I think!

  18. Angela

    For me, I definitely think it’s the writing and how I’m connecting with the book that will make me feel emotional. There are two books in particular that make me cry every time I read them (Henry’s Sisters and Thanks for the Memories) and I think it’s because the author has made me love the characters. But then there’s other books, for example The Fault in Our Stars, which many people have said really touched them and made them bawl, but I felt practically nothing when I read it, because I just didn’t like the characters very much and wasn’t emotionally connected to the book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Loving the characters definitely factors into it, I think. It’s a lot easier to feel for and sympathize with characters you really love and care about!

  19. Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books

    Oh my, I love an emotional read. If a book makes me cry, it’s pretty much guaranteed to make my favorites list– or at least be one that I remember for a long time. It’s definitely the writing that does it for me– because I’ve gotten emotional during books with situations that I would not normally relate to, but the FEELING just hurt my heart. Great post topic πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Same here! Except I find it hard to actually find books that make me emotional. But the ones I do find are the ones I love the most and remember the longest. And yeah, I think it must be the writing. Thanks!

  20. kris @ lemon-notes

    Oooohh I LOVE this topic! I’ve had this thought before, but it probably escaped me, as most my thoughts do because FRACKEN SCHOOL. My reaction to emotional situations is never predictable. I have also had times where a death has not affected me at all, and other times where I’ve cried for like 1.34 hours (this number is random idk, honestly)??? I feel that a lot of times for me it’s dependence weighs heaviest on my own personal experiences and how closely they relate to that particular one a character is going through.
    HOWEVER, if you have a way with words, you can probably tear me to shreds with a joke. I’m a total sucker for empathy.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Lol yeah, school will do that to ya. I find my emotional reactions are pretty unpredictable too, which is why it’s always baffled me what it is that actually makes me more emotional when it comes to books. I think it’s definitely easier to feel emotion when we relate to a situation, but yeah, a great author can probably make me emotional over anything!

  21. S. J. Pajonas

    All very good points that I agree with! The connection feels very personal, which is why I don’t always trust reviews. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I always take reviews with a grain of salt since they are so subjective to begin with, and the way a book makes someone feel is even more subjective and personal.

  22. Uma @ Books.Bags.Burgers.

    I’m an extremely emotional reader!! I cry and laugh easily. I tend to feel some situations very deeply… I remember Harry Potter being one of the first books that made me cry. There I think because I’d grown up reading about this bunch of people, sharing with their lives, everything felt so much real. Also yes, relatability matters..Certain situations tend to feel so much real than others!

    Wonderful discussion post <33

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s awesome! I find it hard to find books that actually make me emotional, even though I would love to find more :-/ But I definitely think relatability can have a big impact! Thank you! πŸ™‚

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  24. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I think it’s definitely the writing which gets me emotional. If an author can get me to care about a character, or convince me a character I’m reading about cares about someone dying or the situation they’re in them I’m far more likely to get emotional about it. I don’t find external things bother me too much or affect if I get emotional with a book. I think the only thing really is if I’m in public. If I am I’m more likely to try and distance myself from the writing a little bit to make sure I don’t get emotional but even then, if a book is well written I’m likely to cry or cringe when something embarrassing happens. I definitely find embarrassment is something I feel with a character regardless. If it’s a cringey situation I’m probably gonna be cringing too. It’s a strange one with lots of different factors.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I think it’s hard to really know if it’s an external thing or just the book sometimes. But I do think the writing is probably the most important factor. I’m actually someone who is pretty hard to embarrass in real life though, so I really don’t tend to get embarrassed for other people or characters. There are some situations that characters end up in that do make me cringe because they really would be embarrassing, but even in those I don’t truly feel the embarrassment myself I don’t think.

  25. Evelina

    Actually, I’ve found that I get emotional even over happy stuff πŸ™‚ or like, super excited. And not even depending on the mood! I remember “Senlin ascends” made me so excited I could not sleep until no wrote and published a blog post about it at like midnight or something xD
    Astor writing, I think some writers do the “show don’t tell” thing better than others? And also yeah, then there’s the relatability (lol is that a word :D)

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m usually more likely to emotional over happy stuff actually! That’s a good point though, that I think a lot of it is the show-don’t-tell thing. When an author just tells me about a sad situation or tells me the character’s emotions, I don’t feel them. But when they *show* them, then I feel them so much more. I feel like relatability is definitely a word, but spellcheck does not agree for some reason lol.

  26. Wendy

    Sometimes I am caught off guard by how emotional a book will make me, like it’s triggered some huge grief I didn’t even know was there. And for some reason, I always want to give a higher rating to a book that makes me cry (not just feel a little sad, or get teary-eyed). Even if I wasn’t LOVING other parts of the book, I want to give the author credit for having tapped into my emotions like that.

    There are other emotional responses as well, of course. I love it when a book makes me laugh out loud, and sometimes when I’m reading a tense part, my heart speeds up and I feel the adrenaline.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Sometimes there is some sort of catharsis effect. Like, a book will suddenly open up some floodgates of emotions you didn’t even realize you were holding in. I definitely think you should give higher ratings to books that can make you cry! Very few books can even make a couple tears fall down my face, so if a book ever made me full-on cry, I think it would get all the stars from me lol.

      Oh, yes! I should’ve talked about other emotions too, oops! I just read a book earlier this year that seriously had me feeling the adrenaline and had my heart speeding up at points, so that’s fantastic writing too!

  27. Olivia Roach

    I think mood matters a lot. I’m the kind of person who just doesn’t cry when reading books. There have been two exceptions. One, because the Kite Runner is an exceptionally heart breaking book. The other, because I was on my period and PMSing hardcore. It wasn’t even a sad moment in the book. It was a HAPPY moment. That’s how emotionally unstable I was at that point xD But I do think writing and also how much we feel we can relate to the story has a huge effect too.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Same here, I rarely ever shed tears while reading, and I’ve never actually, like, sobbed over a book. But oh, I’m usually more likely to get emotional over happy/sweet things, so I totally get it and don’t think you were being emotionally unstable, haha.

  28. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    oh no. you know I’m not an emotional reader AT ALL πŸ˜›
    Unless… There MAY be just a VERY few situations… the characters are super realistic, flawed and diverse. the writing is metaphorical and poetic,, the imagery is subliminal there is mental health and/or disability, or kids, or dogs, or family relationships, or X gets abandoned in Hades πŸ˜›

    Great post πŸ™‚

  29. Bookworm Brandee

    I think you know I’m an emotional reader…I cried at the end of John Adams by David McCullough when Adams died. And, um, I’m pretty sure I already knew he had died since it was centuries ago. πŸ˜‰ But there are authors who seem to gut punch me more than others. And like you, I can’t explain what they’re doing that makes the difference but boy is there a difference. I just wrote in a review recently that a certain scene was supposed to evoke great emotion, I *knew* the author was going for that, but I just didn’t feel it. And then there are other authors who, like I said, gut punch me. I’m sure my own emotional state at the time of reading a book (like last fall when I read Breathe by Kristen Ashley while I was dropping off my kid to college some 1200+ miles away) gut punched me more acutely. And being able to identify with a character and what they’re going through also has an effect. But I kinda do think it boils down to the author and their abilities…

    This is a great post, Kristin! And I actually read it last week and it’s been sitting open on my laptop waiting for me to have time to comment (and to comment bomb you). You always have great discussion topics! I hope all is going well in your world. Prepare for more comment bombing. πŸ˜‰

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol a good author can definitely make me sad even if I already know what’s going to happen or even if I know the character is going to live. But yeah, there are other times when someone really does die or a scene is supposed to have so much emotion, yet I feel close to nothing. There really is just some sort of special something some authors are able to do!

      Thanks! No worries, and I’m off to check out all your other comments πŸ˜‰

  30. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    I think that for me, personally, the relatability definitely has something to do with my emotions. I just finished beta-reading a book, and I bawled my eyes out. Over a situation that most readers probably won’t register as emotional at all, but it just really hit me in the gut and pierced my heart…
    And some character deaths have gutted me, while others have just barely made me shrug, so I totally get what you mean. I’m not sure if it’s because of the writing, the connections between the dead character and the other characters or just how I feel about the character or a combination of all those that make something emotional to me or not.
    I love how much this post made me think, Kristen!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, it’s definitely harder to read about things that hit close to home.

      I think it must be some combination of all those things, but I’ve found the connection between the dead character and other characters often seems a big factor for me.

      Thanks, I’m glad you like the post!

  31. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    I totally understand your confusion and I agree that the writing is important although there are times when the writing hasn’t been fabulous and yet I’ve been so CONNECTED that I feel all the repercussions of the emotionally charged situation and I can’t help but become emotional – whether that’s complete outrage, tears or desolation or simply being so full of bliss for the characters that I might tear up with happiness as well!

    I can’t put my finger on what exactly connects me to a certain book – there’s obviously a secret recipe and while the writing CAN do it, it isn’t necessarily the type of prose or quality of the writing that does it! Sometimes an author just seems to be able to give me the right amount of information to connect me to a character or to convey the feelings that they are going through and that is enough for me.

    Whatever the reason, it’s always disappointing when I know I should have felt so much more, and I didn’t. πŸ™

    Wonderful discussion post!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, it’s so confusing, and there’s just some sort of X factor that I can’t figure out! Yet some authors have it. Maybe it’s about the showing-not-telling, like what you said about the right info? But it’s also about connecting you to the character *before* the emotional thing happens too I think. But yes, it is disappointing when something should’ve made me emotional but didn’t :-/


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  33. La La in the Library

    You are right, the crying thing is hard to put a finger on because it can vary from person to person depending on their life’s experiences and their passions. I will, guaranteed, cry over an animal death, abuse, or abandonment no matter how well or badly it is written. Ha ha. In the Harry Potter books my full-on snot nosed crying was over one of the animals.

    I remember we were talking about the A Monster Calls, thing. Everyone was rating that book highly because they were “devistated” “grief-stricken”, and “emotionally destroyed”, but in my opinion the emotional impact came solely from the subject matter. I felt the author’s writing was actually bland, especially for a Middle Grade story. I am worried now because I bought the entire Chaos Walking trilogy without reading the first book, based on everyone’s praising reviews. I hope his writing for adults is better. Ha ha. πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, it can very much depend on our own experiences and passions.

      I do remember talking about that book. But yeah, for me, subject matter alone isn’t enough. Hopefully the Chaos Walking books will be better!

  34. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I agree that my connection with the characters who are feeling the emotion is the biggest factor in how much I’ll feel as well. Which does come down to writing—but then there’s some sort of X factor there as well, like you said. WHY do I connect strongly with one character but not another? Sometimes I can define that and sometimes I just can’t!

  35. Lauren @ SERIESous Book Reviews

    I’m an emotional reader so long as I like one of the characters involved. Though it does depend on the situation because there are some scenes that are just heartbreaking to read no matter who is involved. I’m finding that particularly true with scenes in audiobooks lately. There is just something about the situation being described that really gets to you!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I don’t listen to audiobooks, but you’re the first person who’s mentioned that—that’s interesting that you’ve noticed you get more emotional with audiobooks! I think I feel something similar when it comes to graphic novels or movies, sometimes actually seeing the characters upset or whatever gets me more emotional.

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  37. Sam

    I have cried like 12 times since starting Everything All at Once. I Cried at the end of Saints and Misfits last night. Yes, I cry, and I realized that I cry more over everything now, than I did before becoming a mom. I don’t know why, maybe it’s giving all your love unconditionally to someone that just leaves your heart wide open. Whatever it is, I am a blubbering fool – happy and sad and mad tears. All. The. Time.
    Sam @ WLABB

  38. Rachel @ Chocolate and Chapters

    I’m definitely an emotional reader, but it takes a lot to pull that emotion out of me. That’s why I absolutely love the books that give me an emotional response.

    And what you said about not knowing how authors do this: YES. I have hopes to write a book myself one day and obviously I’d love to write one that will really hit people emotionally. I would want to write a book that would make people say, “I totally cried while reading it!” But again: HOW??? I have no idea. I think I need to reread the books that I had an emotional response to and really pay attention to why. Because I don’t know.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, I’m exactly the same! And seriously, I want to write a book myself one day, but if I can’t even figure out how other authors are able to make me feel, how am I going to be able to write in a way that makes other people feel???