Movies and books that made us cry more than The Fault in our Stars

The crying hangover that follows reading (or watching the film of) The Fault In Our Stars has been described as epic. Here are some other books and films that have also left our staff puffy, splotchy and teary.


Amy Vuleta, Assistant Manager at Readings St Kilda:

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell made me cry more than TFIOUS. I bought a copy when travelling in the US a couple of years ago and finished it sitting at a bar drinking ‘happy hour’ margaritas, really bringing the mood down with my barely-hidden tears. It was great!

I’d first read Campbell in her short-story collection American Salvage and loved her writing. Her language is so beautiful and richly descriptive, yet gritty and real while also being mundane, disturbing and sublime.

Once Upon a River narrates the story of Margo Crane – sixteen years old and utterly alone in the world. After being fractured from her family who have lived on the Kalamazoo River for generations, she rows her old heavy wooden boat upriver to find her estranged mother. Margo is one of the most intriguing literary characters I’ve ever met. She approaches every situation with quiet, considered, steady observation. As she searches, she is continually fighting against the river’s strong current. She does eventually find her place in the world and people to love and who love her. That’s all I’ll say though I promise the ending is powerful and it WILL make you cry. ENJOY!


Chris Gordon, Events Manager:

My teenage daughter and myself have a guaranteed recipe for a good night’s rest. When you arrive home and its dark outside with the wind howling, the most sensible course of action is to reheat the spag bol, pull on your trackie daks, snuggle on the couch and put on a movie that will result in a cathartic sob. And together with my daughter, we’ve come up with the ultimate list, suitable for all ages, for all winter nights.

  • Love Story: A romantic story about living the best way you can. (My choice.)
  • The Notebook: Because some people should spend their lives together. Also it has Ryan in it. (Her choice.)
  • Moulin Rouge: Nicole Kidman’s best movie actually. (Family choice.)
  • Beaches: Women’s friendship and Bette singing the theme song. I am unable to hear that song without welling up. (My choice.)
  • Bambi: A gift really. (Her choice.)
  • Storm Boy: Ohh Mr Percival. (Family choice.)
  • The Bridges of Madison County: Meryl and Clint can do no wrong. (Her choice.)
  • Up: About hope, adventure and taking the next step. (Her choice.)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life: Because it is actually. (Family choice.)

Nina Kenwood, Online Manager:

My guaranteed cries (of the kind that leave me with a headache and swollen eyes) are as follows:

  • The opening sequence of Up.
  • The last 20 minutes of Brokeback Mountain.
  • Most episodes of the TV shows Parenthood and The Fosters.
  • The children’s book Goodnight Mister Tom (admittedly I haven’t read it in years, but it’s one of the first books I remember sobbing over).
  • Any book involving issues (or death) between mothers and daughters, including One True Thing, Mother, Missing, The Usual Rules, Wild etc.
  • Any scene involving Matt Saracen and his grandmother on season one of Friday Night Lights.
  • When Jen filmed the video message for her daughter and then died on Dawson’s Creek. (I was going to put a spoiler warning, but the show is fifteen years old, for God’s sake.)

Bronte Coates, Digital Content Coordinator:

Last year I saw Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt at a cinema which turned out to be a terrible, terrible mistake. Unlike at TFIOUS - where I’d sniffled quietly, albeit continually- at The Hunt I cried so loudly that people turned around to look at me where I sat, hunched over, hugging my knees to my chest, with my hood pulled down over my face. It was hands-down the most traumatic ‘crying at a film’ experience of my life, of which I’ve had many. I quite seriously cried the entire way through both The Return of the King and the final Harry Potter film. There were tears from opening to closing credits.

In contrast to those big fantasy movies, the books that make me cry are usually gentle, sneaky reads that lull me into submission before revealing something devastating. Kazuo Ishiguro is a great example of this and I think I’ve recommended Never Let Me Go to everyone I’ve ever met. I vividly remember sobbing my way through the final pages of Swamplandia!, after a reveal which I didn’t see coming.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro

$19.99Buy now

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