It’s that awkward moment when you are reading something that brings a volcanic eruption of FEELINGS in the form of tears that just comes flowing to the surface….and you are in public…away from the comfort of your own space where you can properly ugly cry your little heart out.

It’s the worst. My eyes are burning and my face starts to get flushed and I’m trying with all my might to HOLD BACK THOSE TEARS. I’m sure I look like a hot mess with my teary eyes and the trembling lip that I’m trying SO HARD to stop.


And I just feel like everyone is STARING AT ME. Like I’m this unhinged crazy person. I mean, book people would probably understand this. The shedding of tears for fictional stories and characters. But other people? NOPE. I feel like they are all probably whispering like “what is wrong with this chick??” or awkwardly trying to look past me so they don’t catch eye contact with the crying girl.


Sometimes it’s because I was dumb and chose something (Night by Elie Wiesel) when I knew I would be reading in public (an airplane). Seriously, who’s dumb idea was THAT? That book shouldn’t be read in public. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. Just like I know better than to read The Fault In Our Stars or any sort of cancer or grief or death book in public.

Other times I’m taking aback by the fact that the book I chose (Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller) is making me cry while I’m reading in public (the pool at my apartment complex) because it maybe didn’t strike me as a book that might make me cry. And then it’s all panic to figure out how to stop the tears that I didn’t see coming.

Stop Crying GIF

I had a potentially awkward crying episode a few weeks ago when I was reading while the kids I nanny were napping. Their mom works from home and sometimes will come downstairs for food or something to drink so I never know when she’s coming down. I was reading Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor, a book I knew would probably make me cry but I didn’t anticipate finishing while I was there, and I felt myself start to FEEL THINGS. Not just tearing up. I could tell I was going to full on ugly cry. I was willing my tears to stop because I knew she could potentially come down at any moment or the kids could wake up and I didn’t want to be SOBBING like a crazy person. But it didn’t work…and there I sat sobbing just at least hoping she didn’t come down or the kids didn’t wake up and trying to come up with possible explanations for my eyes (sudden onset allergies? I poked myself in both eyes? A sneezing or coughing fit??). Luckily I was in the clear.


I stealthily was able to hide my crying while I was at the pool by dunking myself underwater so it looked like I was just wet and then putting sunglasses back on. It was a solid way to conceal my book induced tears. But what happens when I’m on a plane or a train or sitting in a cafe or any other sort of situation where I might be reading in public and access to water is not available?! How to conceal it?? I guess I could carry around a pair of sunglasses everywhere? Or maybe books that will inevitably make you cry should just come with a DO NOT READ IN PUBLIC warning? Or maybe I should only read books that are funny in public? (Ehh but then I become that weirdo girl on the treadmill laughing like a hyena…yep I’ve been her).

It’s a problem to read in public when you are someone whose book feels sometimes turn into very real tears. Until I can figure out how to control it I will be forever the girl you can find sobbing in public because of a book. I guess there could be worse things, right?

(ALSO: Will wants to know, and I quote, “is it normal for people to cry this much in general from reading a book??”

Let’s Talk: Have you ever cried while reading a book in public? Any awkward crying stories to share? I’m curious what books made you cry in public! Or are you a person that’s pretty good at pushing back those tears? Or maybe you don’t cry or express many visible emotions at all while crying?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I cry way too often in books. I commute 1.5hrs each day on a train to work, you think I would learn to choose books to read on the train that won’t make me cry, but no, I never learn.
    I probably cried the hardest in “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. I was sitting in an airport by myself and was honestly sobbing. I absolutely felt the shame that everyone was staring at me, I hoped they thought I had just said goodbye to a loved one for an extended period of time.

    • Haha that’s a good cover up in an airport! But def an awkward place to cry bc you can’t get away from people and there are sooo many ppl! I know if I commuted on a train I would cry too bc I have that great tendency to pick books that make me cry hahah

  2. OMG… in January I traveled with my partner to a table tennis tournament he was directing. I was assisting with registration, etc. Well while they’re all playing I decide now is the time to FINALLY read FiOS. Soooo awkward as all these grown men are playing and I’m sitting at a table looking a hott mess! My partner came over because people thought we were fighting and all I could say was “everyone is dying”. SO MANY FEELS!

  3. It would be so amazing if books came with a Feels rating, tissues instead of stars! Like 5 out of 5 tissues = you will cry. 3 out of 5 =you might cry. 1 out 5= maybe have some tissues on hand if you know you cry easily. Would also be great for books that could potentially make you go into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, or scream out loud at a super shocking twist in public and get all the stares.

  4. I have had to hold back tears in public twice! I was at school and I was reading in the student lounge during a break. It was sooo hard! I’m sure I looked constipated or something trying to keep the tears from flowing! It probably would have been less awkward if I just started crying, since I could just say it was the book if someone asked. 😛

  5. I forgot what book it was but I remembered crying at school upon reading that particular book just because a character died. Another book that made me cry was a harry potter book, the part where a lot of character died. I was so heartbroken and my friends and classmates were so worried about me. If only they could understand the emotions we feel everytime those times come to us. 🙂

  6. I’ve had this happen twice, both times on the ferry en route to visit my family. The first was with Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven (seriously, the word “heaven” should have been a trigger!) Luckily, the ferry was quiet that evening and I disembarked at night, when no one noticed my red, puffy eyes. The second time, however, I was reading Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes and absolutely ugly crying and a little old lady offered me chocolate and tissues! Seriously! I was grateful that she understood the bookish cry — and we ended up having a really great conversation about books (since, by that point, I’d decided that the rest of the book was being read behind CLOSED DOORS and OUT OF THE PUBLIC EYE!)

  7. I’ve cried on many occasions because of books but luckily nothing much in public. I read part of The Book Thief in a cafe/bookstore and felt like I might cry at different occasions, but I think the knowledge that I was in public held back some of the stronger emotions. Of course I finished that book at home and had a good cry over it then, so maybe it was all just waiting to come out later. I do know however, that I tend to make weird facial expressions/reactions while reading (which has made for some awkward moments).

  8. I rarely cry at books. That’s even weird for me to say because I cry at the drop of a hat usually, assuming I’m in my own home and not around random people. Which now that I typed it out may be why I don’t cry when I read, I tend to read in public and I have problems crying in public…I also tend to pick “happy” books when I know I’ll be reading in public. Less crying. I like to cry in the privacy of my own home and freak out my animals.

  9. I’m not sure that I’ve ever cried in public whilst reading – films, of course, are another story. I have laughed out loud a few times though. Awkward looks abound.

  10. I get teary eyed so get myself to get and read further . Also I try to push back the tears

  11. Argh, I’m always weeping over books in public! I finished Perks of being a wallflower, the time traveller’s wife & one day all on my commute home. Public devastation is how I would describe it!

  12. I have gotten lucky–I’ve never been in public when I’m reading a book that has made me full-on bawl. If I had been reading The Book Thief when I was in public, strangers would have seen the ugly cry. At my age, though, I wouldn’t have cared–there comes a point when you really just don’t care what other people think. Heh.

    And yes, Will, it’s totally normal to cry that much over a book. Even my husband cries over books now and again–he just had a good crying jag over Will Grayson, Will Grayson last week (reason #1,498,532 why I married him).

  13. There was an unexpected death in one of Abbi Glines’ most recent books and I was so grateful I was not in public because I full on ugly cried. Jasinda WIlder’s Falling Into You that I ugly cried. Or the other day- Colleen Hoover’s Maybe Someday…so yeah, I shouldn’t read anything in public haha

  14. Yes, Will, it’s perfectly normal for people to cry this much from books. I cry from books all the time. Lol.

    So I just finished TFIOS this week and I brought it to work because I like to read on my lunch hour and I was all “I’ll just read until I start to feel things and then I’ll put it down”. Stupid stupid stupid decisions. I had to not only put the book down, but immediately go on Youtube and watch a funny video because I was about to full-on ugly cry at work and I was NOT wearing waterproof mascara so that would have been a hot mess. So I totally understand your pain. And I am also the crazy person who cries at books in public.

  15. I cry and laugh while reading all the time. When I know a book is going to make me cry I won’t read it in public, but sometimes a book makes me cry anyway and I have no control over holding back my tears. I’ve tried biting my tongue, blinking fast, pulling my eye down, and none of it works. I have totally been that girl in class who almost started crying and had to go to the bathroom so she could cry in peace. I also like to read outside and I made the mistake of reading If I Stay outside because my mom and sister were inside. Big mistake. The cars going by probably thought u was nuts, my mom was the only one who understood! I’ve also been the one at home who is crying, some tries to ask me something and I can’t answer because I am crying. I really need to learn to control it, but I don’t think I will ever be able to. You are not alone!

  16. Yeah, I cry a lot while reading. When I write reviews, I tend to warn readers if it’s a ‘read in public’ book or not. If I’m that wrapped up in a book, I won’t really notice the people around me. I always keep tissues in my bag just in case. Now as far as making a fool of oneself in public over a book. Yeah, I did that but with laughter, not crying.

    Jury duty 2 weeks ago. I chose a seat on a small platform facing the entire jury lounge because the chairs were more comfortable. I kept busting out laughing while reading Evolution:ANGEL. Not cute little chuckles, but full out barks of laughter. When I tried to hold it in, I actually snorted! Mortifying… Everyone was looking at me like I was 50 kinds of crazy. And guess what. I didn’t get on a jury either.

  17. I totally agree! That’s a big issue! The worst part is that people don’t get it. I was in the bus back home while I was listening to The Fault in Our Stars and had to fight my tears back hard. Once I got home, the sob fest begun. My boyfriend was laughing at me because he didn’t get how I could get so upset about a book. He didn’t get it. Although, it happens to me either way. When a book is really funny, I can’t help but to laugh out loud, and I get to be the crazy lady again who laughs by herself. That can be embarrasing too.

  18. So many stories. Marley and Me while on a train? A lot of weird looks that day. Or the Bronze Horseman trilogy on vacation. My sister and I were at the pool reading together and sobbing. We tried to cover it up with our sunglasses, but yeah that was definitely an awkward moment.

  19. This happens to me all the time. One time it happened while I was on a train late at night. I was reading TFIOS, so obviously I was sobbing. Thankfully I had a hoodie on, so I just pulled that over my face and put my head down so it looked like I was trying to sleep. Or one time I was babysitting. The kids were asleep. I don’t even remember what I was reading, but I was bawling. One of the kids woke up and came out to the living room. He was so tired that he didn’t even ask what was wrong. He just got up on the couch, hugged me, and curled up next to me. I think every sad book should come with thaytkid. Haha.

  20. This happens to me all the time. One time it happened while I was on a train late at night. I was reading TFIOS, so obviously I was sobbing. Thankfully I had a hoodie on, so I just pulled that over my face and put my head down so it looked like I was trying to sleep. Or one time I was babysitting. The kids were asleep. I don’t even remember what I was reading, but I was bawling. One of the kids woke up and came out to the living room. He was so tired that he didn’t even ask what was wrong. He just got up on the couch, hugged me, and curled up next to me. I think every sad book should come with that kid. Haha.

  21. Many people have mentioned others “not understanding why you would cry over a book”. Would those people think it was weird to see someone cry over a movie? They are both powerful forms of storytelling.

  22. It’s so funny, because I was talking to Mum about this today! I was laughing on the bus today and luckily I was at the back, so it wasn’t hugely noticeable, but I tried reading some of The Fault in Our Stars on the bus once, nope nope nope, big mistake, never again, I can tell you that. I try to read action or fantasy books on public transport or in public, just because there’s less chance of me crying my eyes out at that, but it still happens, and boy, it’s difficult. This is a great post Jamie, and yes Will, it’s very normal, it’s like shouting at football on the TV or getting angry at a news report, it’s emotions from media, very normal 🙂

  23. I think I’ve been pretty good and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a crying in public moment. Nothing that I started to stress how I’d hide it. But I’ve read books at home that make me feel all the feels and I know the boyfriend would just mock me so I have to try to keep it on the DL. Which is why I read The Fault in Our Stars during the day when he was at work. God, so much bawling. I was hoping like hell I wouldn’t get a book delivery while I was reading it because THAT would have been awkward. “Yes, Mr. Delivery Man, I’m fine. These tears? Oh, yeah, it’s just this book I’m reading…” lol I definitely cry more during books than movies which I think is only something bookish people will understand.
    But I’ve also been the one laughing out loud at the gym…that’s a wee bit awkward, too!

  24. I can’t say I’ve ever cried in public, but I’ve had to put aside multiple books because they made me bust a gut laughing. ..and that’s just as embarrassing! Haha, people probably think I’m a total loon for randomly bursting out laughing. 🙂 These days if I’m reading in public, I try to make a conscious decision about what I’m reading.

  25. I laugh, but I don’t cry in public. I’m not much of a cryer actually, so I LOVE books that make me cry. 😀

  26. Awwww! Love this!! I have to admit that I don’t cry very often while reading. HOWEVER, when I do, I am always grateful it is not in public!! I read The Fault in Our Stars at home in one day. I cried almost all day long! My family was so concerned for me. Ha! They just don’t understand!!!!

  27. My book club buddies and I tend to talk about this fairly often. Somehow we manage to pick books that inevitably make one of us ugly cry in Panera, Starbucks, or some other slightly hipster and totally public place. Arrgh!

  28. I don’t find myself crying at movies or television much anymore but I always end up hitting the sad part of a story and crying on the subway. I had to put away Where The Stars Still Shine multiple times during the commute when I couldn’t see through the tears. The grandmother reminded me so much of my own grandmother so even the sweet scenes with her left me a blubbering mess.

  29. Books do make me cry but not as much as in the past. I try really hard to not read a book in public that can cause all.the.feels but sometimes…oops. Like you said you might not know it will cause any type of reaction. Sunglasses are a must! 🙂

  30. I’m generally not a crier and thankfully haven’t cried reading a book in public (totally cried at an airport once though, ’cause of anxiety). But do NOT read, I repeat DO NOT read “Allegiant” in public, when you get to it. Just do not.

  31. This is definitely normal, Will! XD

    It’s so ironic that you posted this today because earlier I saw a girl reading The Fault in Our Stars in public, and I kept thinking to myself how that was one of the worst books to ever read in the presence of other people! I don’t know if she didn’t realize how much she’d sob later on or if she was simply really brave by picking such a sad read to take with her.

    I can only remember one time where I cried in public because of a book. I was reading The Help at the laundromat… Fortunately, no one was really there to see me get emotional.

  32. I don’t read in public in general. I just don’t have any means to. I don’t take public transportation hardly ever, I don’t ‘hang’ at coffee shops, malls, or libraries, and I don’t have a job or anything I have to pass time at outside my own home. Guess I’m lucky?

  33. This was basically me while I read Me Before You. I’m not a crier when it comes to books so I thought it was safe to bring it out even after I had totally sneaked a peek at the ending and sobbed a TON. I didn’t think I would cry then because I already knew what happened but I did and it was terrible. Didn’t help it was during English class during independent reading time. It was just so sad though!!! Serves me right for bringing it out though…

  34. I haven’t read a book in public in a very long time but the last time I did, I was alone in my school library, reading a book and bawling. I showed up to my next class bleary-eyed, to my friends’ concern. Needless to say, they were concerned when I brushed it off going like “It was just a book that I read…” I swear! Haha.

  35. Not really..I usually end up crying at home , and I seem to end up crying in the bathroom. But it also depends on the book. The last time I cried like that was with Trisha Dollors — where the stars still shine. But then I might be on the spectrum and I don’t always cry

  36. Hahaha, I was holding back tears today, actually. I was reading Easy by Tammara Webber at my desk during my lunch hour, and I got to the end and I was so close to bursting into tears. I’m proud of myself for controlling my emotions though, because I cry at absolutely EVERYTHING. It would have been so embarrassing because everyone else was already back from their lunch break already, and would have seen tears rolling down my face.

  37. I borrowed my supervisor Divergent and she was amazed by the feels from a book. I told her that is exactly why I read so much!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  38. Prodigy – by Marie Lu. I finished the book in the waiting room of my dentist’s office. At that point, luckily, the realization hadn’t quite set in, so I was more angry than anything else. I was about 2 seconds away from throwing the book as hard as I could across the room and slamming it into a wall. Potentially denting the wall. Hopefully making everything that had just happened… I dunno… Un-happen. Luckily, (or maybe unluckily?) it was at that moment that I, seething with anger and inwardly screaming at Marie Lu (while outwardly muttering feverishly under my breath and glaring at the beautiful book in my hands) that I was called into the office. Yeah, it was bad.

    Most of the time, though, I read only happy fluff-type books in public. Or at least, I try. And then, at home, I just frantically flee the front room and barricade myself in my bedroom the second I feel the sobbing coming. Cuz when I cry, I SOB. Full on. It’s bad. Allegiant? I was a MESS.

  39. I don’t cry very often while I read books, but I cry at the dumbest things on the TV. I also cry sometimes while I listen to audiobooks, which is probably not good since I’m usually running or driving.

  40. If I think a book is going to make me cry in then I try to read it only at home. There have been times where I’m caught off guard and a book makes me cry in public but I always try to wipe my tears before the get out of control. I’ve basically perfected the art of stealth crying.

  41. LOVE this post. I’ve actually had people come up to me and ask if everything’s okay while I’m reading. Not because I’m crying, mind you, but because I apparently get this intense look on my face sometimes when I’m reading and it looks like I’m really upset or I hate the world or something.

  42. While I have not full-on cried over a book in public, I have definitely laughed and was sure people thought I was crazy!

  43. IS IT NORMAL FOR PEOPLE TO CRY THIS MUCH DURING BOOKS. Oh my gosh, you should’ve seen me when I read/finished THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and ALLEGIANT. Those tears lasted quite some time. I don’t get much reading done in public, but if I do, I think I unconsciously make sure it’s not something that may cause me to cry? (Although I read the beginning of ALLEGIANT in public, but fortunately that was fine.) And if I felt tears coming, I’d put the book down and wait to finish it at a better time, haha. Great post!

  44. I actually haven’t cried over a book in public for a long time! I mostly just laugh out loud, or yell “I knew it!/I told you so!/Whyyyy?” when I’m in public (which is usually during my morning/afternoon commute). But I know how hard it is to hold back the tears when they feel like coming — which is why I try to read the books I think will make me cry when I have lots of time to myself. I commend you for reading books that make you cry in public! I would totally understand if I saw you 🙂

  45. Yeah, I’m kind of used to the crazy looks. All the people at my son’s speech therapy waiting room know at any minute I may either burst out laughing or burst out in tears. However, I did learn my lesson about reading Colleen Hoover books in public.

  46. I’ve totally been that chick laughing loudly in public! In the middle of getting my hair done, actually. I think a few of the ladies gave me the “is she crazy?” look.

    I don’t think I’ve ever cried in public, actually. Now that I think about it, most of my crying books I know ahead of time so I save them for at home!

    And to Will: It is totally normal for people to cry this much over books.

  47. I don’t usually read books that might make me cry in public. But I have been known to read a book at work and have my coworkers comment because I have a goofy grin on my face. Of course my inner book geek then wants to explain why I love my current read and make people want to read the book as well, and I’m always having to control my tongue.

  48. Jaime Lester says:

    Tell Will that, Yes! It is normal. For me at least! Maybe it is just a Jaime thing? But I cry, I laugh out loud, I have been known to yell, and scream and put up a huge fuss over a book. When I feel something, I FEEL it, whether it is a TV show, a book, or real life. And when I feel it, there is no holding back. I have gotten over the worry of crying in a public place, and laughing too (and I am a snorter), because of a book. My issue comes when I am in public, and I accidentally forget that I am in public, read something that makes me angry, and start yelling at the book. Now that is a truly interesting happening! So you are not alone!!!

    Check out the latest awesome post at……The Best Books Ever

  49. I’ve never cried when reading a book and sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me. lol

  50. Oook.. Jumping on the comment train a little late here.. :s

    I’m like a stone.. I don’t cry. I have had to put a book down before when reading it in public.. you know, when the characters are merrily moving through the plot and then POW they’re naked. Whaaat? *quickly looks around, tries to hide fluster and beetroot face, puts books down, deep breath*


    Apparently I do pull funny faces when I’m reading though.. It’s definitely not a sport I should do in public.

  51. Reading in public is so awkward! I used to read on public transportation and I really had to contain my emotions and outburts. Having some random stranger turn around and stare at you is SOOOOOO weird.

  52. I have so many of these little teary eyed moments, but luckily they never seem to happen in public. I DO constantly gasp and cover my mouth on the subway, though. I always feel so awkward afterwards, but not enough so to stop haha.

  53. I pretty much just finished reading a book…usually I cry for books..nt because they are sad, I tear up a bit,I don’t cry buh after readin this book, I had to run to the bathroom so my mum wouldn’t see me crying, the guy in the book had leukemia and I cried from the scene where he had leukemia til the end of the book which was over three chapters later, I cried so badly, I decided to shower, I cried while in the shower and I feel like crying thinkin bouh it now, it might be fictional but my tears decided they want to pour down, I regret reading the book

    • Ah it sounds traumatic! *hands tissues* It’s crazy how books can make you emote so intensely!! I’ve been there <3 Curious what book it was!

      • It’s a book it found in wattpad…I’ve been obsessing over the books dere u know…I’ve loved all the books I saw….the name is the heart breaker is heartbroken….ahh so depressing ..lool I’ve stopped crying but my head still hurts…..A LOT!!

  54. Anonymous says:

    Once, I was reading a core novel in class, and I started crying. And actual tears rolled down my face, and I was the only one crying. Everyone else read th e same book, yet no one cried…. 😢


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