9 books that make us cry every time

Crying: It’s literally good for you, but sometimes a person needs a little help getting the tear ducts working. Of course you can always just watch Madison County Bridges, but there’s something elegant and old-fashioned charming about being moved to tears by a book. Below, find eight vogue staff members on the books that do them well every time, whether in sadness or happiness or simply in amazement at a perfectly put together sentence.

A little life by Hanya Yanagihara

The 800-page book can speak for itself, honestly. —Carolina Dalia Gonzalez, Executive Assistant to the Editor

The age of innocence by Edith Wharton

Specifically, the ending of this book never fails to bring me to tears. Sometimes I’ll just read the final chapters if I want to force myself into that nostalgic, loving state of mind that goes so well with fall. I won’t spoil the ending, but the rest of the book is also a classic for a reason. Newland Archer, a man of high society from the golden age, is engaged to the innocent and charming May Welland. When May’s cousin Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a broken marriage in Europe, Newland is torn between the two women. In addition to the, again, absolutely perfect ending, there is a lot of scrambling of the customs of the very rich. —Sarah Spellings, Fashion Editor

The story of love by Nicole Krauss

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The book that makes me cry is, without fail, that of Nicole Krauss The story of love. Even revisiting an opening synopsis gives me chills: an old man bangs on his radiator to let his neighbors know he’s alive, except he’s not just a lonely old man, he’s author of a book about a great love that finds its way across the world and into many lives. There are books you remember more for the feel of reading them than for the plot, and this is one of those books for me. I read it, I cried, then I turned around and read it again. Has worked every time. —Chloé Schama, Editor-in-Chief

Mrs DallowayVirginia Woolf

The first – and so far only – book to make me cry was…Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf? It’s very ugly? I was a freshman in college and pass by there, as people in college so often are, and the very last moments of this story (every last line!) formed a lump in my throat that almost made me unable to breathe. “It’s Clarissa,” he said. Because she was there. Always be my heart (and my tears). —Marley Marius, Features Editor

lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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I’m not a shouter, but lolita grips me every time – especially the end of this anguished, ravishing, wonderfully flowery and morally tragic novel. lolita it is many things: a provocation; a portrait of helplessness, venality, criminality and, yes, undeniable, obliterating love. And the tide of love at the end of the book, when Humbert Humbert has lost Lolita but still desires her and tries to convince her (pregnant, married, 17) to run away with him once again, is overwhelming. “Lolita…I have to say it.” Life is short. From here to this old car that you know so well, there are twenty, twenty-five steps. It’s a very short walk. Do these twenty-five steps. Now. At present. Come as you Are. And we will live happily ever after. It’s his answer that gives me chills. Four lugubrious, generous, absolute words. “No,” she said. “No, honey, no.” —Taylor Antrim, Global Network Manager and Associate US Editor

Tim: Avicii’s official biography by Måns Mosesson and I love to hate fashion by Loic Prigent

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Tim: Avicii’s official biography

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As tragedy and comedy masks that represent theater remind us, there are different kinds of tears. Do not attempt the heartbreaking reading that is Tim: Avicii’s official biography by Måns Mosesson without tissue box. The pages were wet when I closed the book. Weeks later, I watered the pages of Loïc Prigent’s wicked collection of quotes collected from fashion shows –I love to hate fashion– which is funny LOL and a reminder of the importance of keeping things in perspective. —Laird Borrelli-Persson, Archives Editor

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking

What I found most remarkable about Didion’s 2005 memoir – which tells the story of the death of her husband and longtime creative collaborator, John Gregory Dunne – was how she functioned there as both subject and observer. As she recounted this event and its aftermath, when Didion was also caring for her sick daughter, Quintana Roo, she created a kind of bereavement handbook, a handbook to which I have returned in moments of loss throughout my life. —Jessie Heyman, Editor-in-Chief, Vogue.com

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

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I don’t normally cry over books (or movies or TV shows, unless I’m living the first few weeks of a pandemic, which I’ve learned helps me light the aqueducts). Yet when I read Makkai’s work of historical fiction about young gay men living or, in far too many cases, dying during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, I was in tears. There’s a specific reference to a young man reflecting on the things he’ll miss being alive, including “a dog he could walk by the lake”, and the first time I read that sentence, I was overwhelmed and almost nauseous with grief thinking of the many people whose lives and futures have been taken away from them by illness and government inaction. —Emma Spectre, cultural writer

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