The Crying Book

Brand: Catapult
Current Stock:
UPC: 9781948226448
Gift Wrapping: Gift Wrapping Available
Author: Heather Christle
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  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Catapult (November 5, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1948226448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1948226448
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches

Why do we cry? How do we cry? And what does it mean? A scientific, cultural, artistic examination by a young poet on the cusp of motherhood.

Heather Christle has just lost a dear friend to suicide and now must reckon with her own depression and the birth of her first child. As she faces her grief and impending parenthood, she decides to research the act of crying: what it is and why people do it, even if they rarely talk about it. Along the way, she discovers an artist who designed a frozen-tear-shooting gun and a moth that feeds on the tears of other animals. She researches tear-collecting devices (lachrymatories) and explores the role white women’s tears play in racist violence.

Honest, intelligent, rapturous, and surprising, Christle’s investigations look through a mosaic of science, history, and her own lived experience to find new ways of understanding life, loss, and mental illness. The Crying Book is a deeply personal tribute to the fascinating strangeness of tears and the unexpected resilience of joy.


One of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Books in Lifestyle in Fall 2019.
Bustle, 1 of 11 New Memoirs for Your Fall Reading List.

"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."

"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

"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

"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


Heather ChristleHeather Christle is the author of the poetry collections The Difficult FarmThe Trees The Trees, which won the Believer Poetry Award; What Is Amazing; and Heliopause. Her poems have appeared in The New YorkerLondon Review of Books, Poetry, and many other journals. She teaches creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. The Crying Book is her first book of nonfiction.