Lachrymose Barbarians, or Manly Books That Make Manly Men Cry Like Babies?



Always books. Never boring.

This is a guest post from Jonathan Streeter. Jonathan is a husband, the father of three young children, and an English teacher and tennis coach at his local Tampa high school. He blames his premature grey hair on all of the above and enjoys skiing, comic books and coffee. He has a B.A. in English from the University of South Florida, is pursuing a master’s degree in English Education and his work, a contemporary look at the fairy tale rendered in Crayola, adorns the walls of his daughter’s room. He spends his spare time split between lamenting his lack of free time and reading under the guise of grading papers.


I’ve long acknowledged that some of my favorite books are the ones that can illicit strong emotional responses from the reader, books that connect in meaningful ways and tap into that emotional core that real men have long since abandoned on the road of evolution. We’re talking blood, sweat and tears here. So after nursing the paper cuts that plague even the most assiduous reader and the whole Fifty Shades of Grey thing, I’m left with tears. Sure, books can make me laugh and books have pissed me off. But cry? I don’t think so. Me and my ilk, be it: John Wayne, Chuck Norris and Rambo or Earnest Hemmingway, Cormac McCarthy and Jack London don’t go in for that sort of thing.  Sorry Michael Chabon, I heard about the man purse.

This being said, there has been the occasional movie that seems to have produced a reaction in me that some people, may equate with crying.  But these tears, if you could call them that, were of the most testosterone inspired variety. We’re talking a Braveheart, “you bled for Wallace” inspired sniffle or a “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” motivated sob.  (As a side note, men have had a long history of sports related crying as any fan of the Buffalo Bills will attest to.)  In any case, these were manly tears and manly movies, plus it was probably allergy season.

To be completely honest I can’t remember crying over a book since maybe 1982 and the infamous Bridge to Terabithia incident.  I’m sure I have, but memory issues and a deep rooted insecurity in my manhood prevents me from recalling specific titles, times and places…

So, I was wondering if a reading experience had ever produced similar results amongst other alpha males out there.   Did The Lord of the Rings or The Death of Superman get you misty eyed?  Did All Quiet on the Western Front or Catch-22 render a howl of righteous anger or a sob of overwhelming anguish? Here’s a chance to air out that sensitive side lauded by Cosmo and Redbook; what books have made you cry?