Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Elicited Great Emotion

I like this topic. Ten, though? That will require me to limit things.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun...

Great Emotion covers a vast range of happy, sad and infuriated response. I've organized the list from most-hated to most-loved.

1. Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy). I have never in my life felt so cheated by a story.

2. The Hunger Games series (Suzanne Collins). Reading these books was, for me at least, an exercise in masochism. Not an entirely unredeemed one, but still.

3. Animal Farm (George Orwell). I went in the kitchen after finishing this book and cried angry tears for a while. Stupid pigs.

4. The Betrothed (Alessandro Manzoni). It took a lot of suffering to get to the happy ending, some of which was occasioned by the abysmal lack of sense the young pair sometimes displayed.

5. Circle of Friends (Maeve Binchy). This week's review book, actually, so I'll try not to spoil it. To summarize: it hurts a lot to love a character so much and watch them do something so horrible. I adored the book, though.

6. Bambi (Felix Salten). Not the cartoon version. I read this a thousand times as a kid, every time aching over the deep sorrow of it.

7. Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo). I didn't expect to find this book particularly interesting. It swept me up from the first page and left me all aglow at the end.

8. Little White Horse (Elizabeth Goudge). A lovely little story that makes me cry good tears every time I read it.

9. The Ender books (Orson Scott Card). Every one I've read has affected me powerfully. I've never come across more empathy from any other author.

10. The Harry Potter books (J.K. Rowling). These deserve to win just for covering the entire spectrum of emotion. Hilarity, weeping, fury, supreme joy....

What books elicited Great Emotion from you?


  1. Ah yes, Because of Winn-Dixie. That is a fabulous book and I haven't thought of it for years. I agree with you about Harry Potter...what wonderful characters and the tension between good and evil!

    My Head is Full of Books

  2. Kate DiCamillo is one of the best. I've enjoyed every one of her books that I've read. And Elizabeth Goudge...I read Linnets and Valerians years ago. The White Horse is sitting on my shelf! I guess I need to get it down and read it! Thanks for the encouragement!!

  3. An American Tragedy, Anna Karenina,. . .I guess I like spending a whole book going "No, no, stop stop stop!"

    Infinite Jest ripped me up and put me back together all lopsided.

    Harry Potter did too.

    The Blue Castle, for the mostly-fluffy kind of Great Emotion

    The Giver for packing maximum Serious Sad into minimal space

    And I still choke up when Frodo and Sam are in Mordor and Sam sees a star through the clouds and realizes that even if they fail and the WORLD ENDS it won't actually be the end of every good thing forever.

    What did I feel cheated by?

    One time, I was reading this book and it was kind of a light-to-serious coming-of -age story about this white kid from Illinois or something who moves to rural Mississippi in the 1970s, and he's all alienated and out of place but he makes a good slightly destructive friend, and a couple of comic incidents happen, and this girl he's been admiring from afar is voted the school's first black homecoming queen, whereupon. . .

    . . . he accidentally runs her over with his car, flees the scene of the crime, and soon after discovers. . .

    . . . that her head injury has caused her to believe that she is white, which also makes her want to be his girlfriend for some reason. Which he is totally ok with, despite his allegedly crippling guilt about The Whole Hitting You With A Car Thing.

    Usually I finish books, but that plot development made me feel strongly that Life Is Too Short.

    Oh, and one of the Twilight books caused me to literally throw it against the wall; that was pretty impressive.

  4. The first story I ever cried over (in jr. high, class assignment) was Flowers For Algernon (story, not later novelization(. I didn't know books could do that to you. I still cry every time I read it.

    The ending of Lord of the Rings, my first fantasy read, in my mid-20s. I was doing laundry in my apartments' laundry room and had to set it aside lest I flood the dryers out the door. When my clothes were done, I dashed to my apartment, finished it, and just sobbed like a loon.

    I'd seen the movie in a rerelease and hated it. A couple decades later I read the book...and hated Scarlett O'hara so much I quit 100 pages before the end, because I could not stand One More Minute of that woman.

    The last two books, especially in the Chronicles of Prydain. Laughed. Cheered. Cried.

    Les Miserables. When Valjean lays out little Cosette's ragged clothes and sobs into them after her wedding. I bawled for half an hour at least, and welled up for days after, and can't think if it yet without tearing up. Am right now, as I write this.

    Mockingjay upset me for weeks for it's wanton violence and literal overkill that ravaged my emotions and left me depressed for days. I've never been so furious at an author. Too bad, because The Hunger Games absolutely gripped me.

    Harry Potter. Every book.

    The Host by Stephanie Meyer. I felt very connected to this doubleminded struggle.

    Welcome to the Great Mysterious by Lorna Landvik. It just moves me, always.

    The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. I don't care for biblical times novels (and the movie of this is hideous), but I read this a couple years after becoming a Christian, and it had an enormous impact on me and how I chose to live out my faith. Funny, moving, real, cynical, and not one thing trite, outmoded, or simplistic about it. A strong relationship novel, and it's a favorite reread.


  5. The Brother's Karamazov~ No matter how many times I read it, I can't resist hoping that this time Mitya will be found innocent & Ilusha will recover

    War & Peace ~ I LOVE these people..Tolstoy is a god.

    Jude the Obscure ~ despair, in a good way.

    The Outsiders ~ way back..I spent most of 4th grade crying for Johnny and wanting a switchblade.

  6. Let's all go visit the Rostovs right now! And spend the whole ride back geeking out about how awesome they are!

    Later, maybe someone will dare us to drink an entire bottle of rum without touching the bottle, while sitting on the ledge of a third-story window. Free money, and a bottle of rum! How could this plan fail?

  7. Am thoroughly enjoying these comments. :D

    Arabella, The Host almost made this list. And I forgot about Les Mis. Also, you're so right about Mockingjay.

    Laura, I love that LOTR scene! And... LOL. I don't think I want to read that book about the car accident. It sounds tortuous.

    Masha, I've only read Brothers once but I know just what you mean.

  8. I've mentioned these before, but the delightful confections by Eva Ibbotson--I grin while I'm reading these marvelous period romance satires with their appealing and often goofy characters, and the stories are moving, as well. Nerine in Magic Flutes defines the term "utterly hilarious narcisstic opportunist." Ibbotson is hot chocolate and cream puffs on a gloomy day, and I always feel better when reading her.


  9. Yes on Animal Farm! I read it when I was a child, and I cried and cried over the death of Boxer. And the most romantic moment in ALL of literature is in War & Peace (I won't say where in case you haven't read it).

  10. I need to read more Ibbotson, Arabella!

    Maria, War and Peace, eh? Hmmmm. :D

    And yeah, Boxer's death was the worst. So cruel.


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