The Crying Book

Backorder (temporarily out of stock)
2 other formats in stock!

Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.2 X 0.7 inches | 0.55 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Heather Christle is author of the poetry collections The Difficult Farm (2009); The Trees The Trees (2011), which won the Believer Poetry Award; What Is Amazing (2012); and Heliopause (2015). A former creative writing fellow in poetry at Emory University, Christle's poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry, and many other journals. She was born in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and earned a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has taught at Wittenberg University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Guelph, and other institutions. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.


Praise for The Crying Book

The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
Long-listed for the Believer Book Award for Nonfiction
One of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Books in Lifestyle in Fall 2019
Independent Book Review, 1 of 30 Impressive Indie Press Books of the Year
Bustle, 1 of 11 New Memoirs for Your Fall Reading List
Paperback Paris, 1 of 12 New Books You'll Want to Bring Outside This Season
All Arts, 1 of 10 New Books to Read This Month A Georgia Author of the Year Awards Nominee

"Christle tenderly engages the unsavory aspects of sadness until they become less strange. Rather than denying that self-pity can be pleasurable, she reveals how that pleasure comes from enfolding oneself in imagined care. The book inhabits an ambivalent zone between the acknowledgment that adult women have needs and the author's fear that she has too many needs nevertheless . . . The Crying Book seems determined to . . . press up against the edge of language, to push beyond representation into the real. " --Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

"[A] nimble nonfiction début . . . Christle's background as a poet informs her use of pattern and juxtaposition to generate meaning from her wide-ranging research, and the result is a thoughtful, often moving rumination on the expression of emotions beyond the reach of language." --The New Yorker

"[A] lyrical, moving book: part essay, part memoir, part surprising cultural study." --The New York Times Book Review

"[An] indelible book . . . [Christle is] fully aware that tears aren't always to be trusted, even though they can come unbidden and unwanted--the reflexive byproduct of overwhelming emotion. She conveys her beliefs and suspicions in discrete paragraphs of text, quoting lines of poetry, personal correspondence, psychological studies . . . She's drawn to metaphor, even though 'it is dangerous to always think one thing is another.' To insist on anything too permanent is to lay a trap. The kind of metaphor Christle seeks is at once truer and more tenuous." --Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times

"Poet Heather Christle's book is about more than crying. As she reflects on the loss of a close friend to suicide and her own battle with depression, Christle asks why and how we cry and what it means, especially for women, to do so. But in The Crying Book, the author's blend of personal experience and scientific research gives way to broader discussions about motherhood, mental health, grief and art." --Annabel Gutterman, Time, 1 of 11 New Books You Should Read This Month

"Christle explores the mystery of tears while mining her own sorrows in this intelligent, compelling read." --Kim Hubbard, People

"Why do we cry? How do we cry? And what does it mean? This young poet examines scientifically and culturally the true art and meaning of tears." --Jake Thompson, E! News, One of the Best New Books of the Month

"An eclectic reflection on human waterworks . . . The unconventional format, combined with the author's vast survey of the topic, provides fascinating food for thought. A surprisingly hopeful meditation on why we shed tears." --Kirkus Reviews

"Readers are sure to be moved to tears themselves. This is a lovely meditation on life and death through the lens of tears, both those spurred by grief and those by joy." --Booklist

"The book's effects are sly and cumulative, relying not so much on any one observation as on associations, echoes, contrasts--a method that reflects Christle's view of art and life, the interdependence, the complex contagion and repetition of feeling and action and reaction that marks them . . . It's about grief and friendship, but only delicately so. Christle wants to preserve the particularity of experiences while illuminating what they have in common. Again and again she emphasizes that separation: 'It is dangerous, ' she insists, 'to always think one thing is another, every event a metaphor for another.' This is also to say that writing itself is dangerous, as well as essential." --Lidija Haas, Harper's Magazine

"Yes, this is a whole book on crying, and it's sad and also beautiful . . . It's a gorgeous book. Everything from the cover to the ideas to the sentences is moving and sometimes, in spite of what you might expect given the subject matter, comforting. Readers who like the fragmentary style of Sarah Manguso and Maggie Nelson will want to get a copy." --Rebecca Hussey, Book Riot

"The Crying Book is a stunning work, a constellation of prose poems that plumb the depths of crying . . . Christle deftly balances her roles as researcher and research subject. By directing her inquiry both inward and outward, she discovers, in her own words, 'what it means to be a crier and an observer of crying, sometimes simultaneously.' The Crying Book, then, is both a study and a memoir--that is, a study of the self . . . It is Christle, our own weeping subject, that makes The Crying Book so affecting. She studies tears tenderly, even intimately, motivated by a heartfelt desire to understand." --Sophia Stewart, Los Angeles Review of Books

"A literary lachrymatory, both consoling and surprisingly uplifting." --Hephzibah Anderson, The Guardian

"There are beautifully realised moments of heart-stopping vulnerability when you think Christle will unravel. But then she staunches her tears and tends to her broken soul . . . Like consciousness, Christle contends, crying lies at the heart of being self-aware." --Marina Benjamin, New Statesman

"Told in bite-sized morsels, similar to Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts, the book is a poetic treatise on tears in all their permutations, as well as a fearless examination of her own depression. She examines the act of crying through a myriad of lenses, from the scientific to the bizarre to the achingly personal." --Grace Harper,

"Even among the guild of poets, Heather Christle is especially attendant to the viscosity of language. Metaphor and metonymy are less, for her, grammatical terms than names for the thickness of the air--and moving through it slows her down. 'Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions, ' wrote Nietzsche, 'they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force.' Most of us are among the forgetful. Not Christle, who restores for us the metaphorical force, the truth bound in words." --Dan Sinykin, The Rumpus

"Christle's piece is a gorgeous, meditative account of crying in all its forms, both individual and collective. She charts experiences in her personal life and weaves them together with strands of other mournful lineages . . . An intense and moving catalog of tears." --Amy Pedulla, Chicago Review of Books

"Invigorating . . . Unique and inspired . . . 'They say perhaps we cry when language fails, when words can no longer adequately convey our hurt, ' Christle muses. But with The Crying Book, language hasn't failed. Precisely the opposite. She's used her gifts as a poet to get at the heart of why sadness arrives and how it affects us." --Alexis Burling, San Francisco Chronicle

"Christle is a poet, and her prose shows it. You will surely end the book knowing much more about tears than when you started . . . Christle invites us into her sadness and along the way manages to unlock the beauty within." --Jonathan Foiles, Psychology Today

"Why do we cry? Heather Christle turns to poetry, philosophy, and personal experience for an inquisitive approach to answering this question." --Elena Nicolaou, Refinery29, One of the Best Books of the Month

"Few people understand the physical, political, mental, and emotional power of tears like Heather Christle, the poet behind The Crying Book." --Cristina Arreola, Bustle, 1 of the 19 Best New Books of the Month

"A poet, Christle is pleasingly roving and idiosyncratic.. . . Christle's mind--what it seeks to understand and how it accommodates and reconstructs understanding--is the intellectual thread here, but the emotional thread is Christle's lived life, her losses, her tears that keep on falling . . . [She is] a startlingly precise and sophisticated writer . . . In its white space, its sequence, its assertions and reversions, The Crying Book reminds us of our own complex humanity." --Beth Kephart, Image

"Lyrical essays are a fascinating and revealing literary form . . . Heather Christle (The Trees The Trees), an acclaimed poet whose command of language is as extraordinary as her ability to showcase heartfelt emotion in as little as a few words, adds to the new canon with her stunning The Crying Book . . . The book successfully captures the history as well as the act itself: You'll end up crying while reading it." --Thrillist, One of the Best Books of the Year (So Far)

"The scope of The Crying Book is surprisingly vast--we learn as much about crying as we do about grief, art, motherhood, and Christle's life. As she conducts and shares her painstaking research, she is also intimately attuned to her pain; she weaves together her examination of crying with her personal experiences, studying tears while shedding them herself. The result is a book that is as informative as it is profoundly moving." --Sophia Stewart, ZYZZYVA

"A poetic examination of one of the most basic of human reactions: crying. Written with grace and an inquisitive mind, The Crying Book recalls the poetic investigations of Maggie Nelson or Eula Biss in scope. Through the lens of crying, Christle explores motherhood, anxiety, depression, and the connective tissue that holds us together. Why do we cry? Why did Romans catch and save their tears in small vials? How did Didion stop herself from crying? All answered and brought close to the realm of the personal in this deeply moving book." --Ryan Evans, Word Bookstore, Brooklyn Paper

"The Crying Book isn't merely a study, or even an abbreviated cultural history. It's also a memoir about motherhood, mental illness, grief, and (naturally) tears . . . The book's most striking moments are when Christle sounds like a poet--where she mixes the sadness of her subject matter with a playful and surprising freedom on the page." --Joshua James Amberson, Portland Mercury

"The Crying Book is a roving history, spanning a remarkable cast of grief experts showcased in wide-ranging vignettes . . . With a poet's touch, gentle and delightfully promiscuous, Christle moves fluidly across disparate disciplines and between her sources' professional and personal lives." --Fathima Calder, Guernica

"One of my all-time favorites . . . The way she unfurls her prose is slow, interweaving and, much like the act of crying, left me feeling vulnerable and gutted in the best way . . . If you have ever cried at least once in the span of your entire life, this book is also for you." --Jo Chang, The Michigan Daily

"In The Crying Book, Heather Christle makes a poignant and piercing examination of the phenomenon of tears--exhaustive, yes, but also open-ended, such that I was left clutching this book to my chest with wonder, asking myself when the last time was that I cried, and why. A deeply felt, and genuinely touching, book." --Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias

"Heather Christle's new book is a combination of personal musings about depression, childbirth, and motherhood, and fascinating researched tidbits about crying--its history, its use in literature and pop culture, its politics, and the science behind it all. Basically, it's Maggie Nelson's Bluets, but about crying, and it's every bit as dazzling as the stars that dot its cover." --Cristina Arreola, Bustle, 1 of 36 New Books of the Season You Need to Have on Your Autumn Reading List

"The Crying Book adds a gravity to crying, a validation." --Amie Souza Reilly, The Adroit Journal

"This is a book about crying, yes, but secretly it's a book about everything: pain, sleep, joy, despair, birth, art, exile, atrocity, language, weather, fish. Christle's genius--a word I've never before written to describe a living author--is her ability to see the miraculous and strange lines connecting everything to everything: 'neither parallel nor perpendicular, ' she writes, but simply 'arcs that momentarily intersect before traveling on.' The Crying Book is a rigorous and urgent work, but it reads like an intimate gift." --Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf

"The Crying Book is spellbinding and propulsive--the map of a luminous mind in conversation with books, songs, friends, scientific theories, literary histories, her own jagged joy, and despair. Heather Christle is a visionary writer." --Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks

"This is a wonderful and profound look at the act of crying--something human and yet hidden, common and yet mysterious. I found myself reading with a thirst for the tears Heather Christle collects here--instances within literature, film, history, and the author's own life all add up to a greater understanding of what makes us human." --Chelsea Hodson, author of Tonight I'm Someone Else

"The Crying Book is a portrait of our time, as perceived through Christle's unique and electric mind. She moves through the scientific and the personal, exploring grief, friendship, and motherhood with eloquence, originality, and poetry. It seems clear there is a cosmic wound that rubs in our unconscious, which Christle investigates in an unflappable yet utterly compassionate voice. She is singular in her skills as a writer, thinker, and human being." --Bianca Stone, author of Someone Else's Wedding Vows

Praise for Heather Christle

"Heather Christle is a visionary writer, deeply intelligent and wildly compassionate, one of our most gifted chroniclers of the strange joys of being alive." --Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks

"Heather Christle's mind is supple and incandescent. Her curiosity appears to be bottomless, her tenderness inexhaustible. She has a joyous way of making the people around her pay attention, of making her readers attend not just to what she is saying but to the neglected wonders of their days. She vivifies life." --Noy Holland, author of Bird