Dear Bitches, Smart Authors Podcast

76. Ugly-Cry Books, DNF books, and An Adorable Story

Katie Dunneback/@YoungLibrarian called in with a question about ugly cry books, whether there's ugly cry at the beginning, or at the end. We do our best to answer. (Hint: one of us says she's really cold hearted, while the other disagrees with that assessment). We also talk about DNF books, and when or why we might assign a DNF grade. Then, Sarah shares some email from listeners that is both awesome and adorable – don't miss that.


Book Archangel's Storm - Nalini Singh Book Cry No More - Linda Howard Book Barbara Samuels - No Place Like Home Book Deborah Smith - A Place to Call Home

Book Laura Kinsale - Shadowheart Book Laura Kinsale - Flowers From the Storm Book Anna Campbell - Claiming the Courtesan Book Big Girl Pants - Stephanie Evanovich

Book Lucky Number Four Book A reason to breathe cp smith Book Kristen Ashley - The Will

Book Kristen Ashley - Sweet Dreams Book Dancing in the Moonlight Rayeanne Thayne Book Ride With me - Ruthie Knox


 Plus, Jacqueline recommends


Book Come to Me Quietly - AL Jackson

This podcast is brought to you by New American Library, publisher of Come to Me Quietly—the brand-new New Adult novel from New York Times bestselling sensation A.L. Jackson.  

Aleena Moore is haunted by Jared Holt. It’s been six years since she’s seen her brother’s best friend, the self-destructive bad boy she secretly loved in high school. As the years pass, she knows it’s time to move on.

Time to decide between a practical nursing degree and her true dream as an artist. Time to get over Jared and give another guy a chance…

Just when she opens her heart to her friend, Gabe, Aly returns home to find Jared sleeping on her couch. The teenage boy she loved has grown into a man she can’t resist. Covered in tattoos and lost in rage, he’s begging to be saved from his demons—the memories of the day he destroyed his family.

As the two reconnect, their passion is hot enough to torch Aly’s judgment. But can she risk her future for a man who lives on the edge of destruction? Come to Me Quietly is a New Adult novel of one woman’s obsession: a man who’s as passionate as he is elusive—and as tempting as he is trouble. You can find Come to Me Quietly wherever books are sold.



Our music in each episode is provided by Sassy Outwater, who is most excellent. This podcast features a song called “Abhainn A'Nathair” and it’s by Peatbog Faeries from their CD Dust. You can find them at their website, or at iTunes.

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us at PodcastPickle.

Come find us! You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast, or email us, or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online – or call us on our Google Voice number. Lots of options!

And we want to know: which books are your iconic ugly cry books? Do you have cyclist romances to recommend?

You can email us at (WE LOVE EMAIL! Send us some!!) or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-DBSA. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

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  1. 1
    Anne says:

    I second the recommendation for Paperback Swap.  It is a great way to get rid of your own book backlog (I’m slowly moving to digital).  Since 2009, I’ve also accumulated more credits that I will probably use, but PBS runs a regular program at the holidays where credits can be donated to schools for books, so I dispose of extra credits through the donation program.

    I find that PBS is a great resource for author backlists.  I use it to track down recommended authors from this site and others.  If I like the book, great. If I don’t like a book, then I didn’t invest much money in it and I can put it up for swap.  I feel much less guilt when I DNF a book through PBS, since I can post it and send it to someone else who might enjoy it. 

    For example, I recently got the first 6 books in Julia Spencer-Fleming’s series, which you recommended on a podcast.  I’m currently in the midst of the third book and enjoying it.  The writing is great and I like the character building, although the books are definitely mysteries and not romances.  I’m a former resident of central New York, with lots of relatives living in the Adirondacks and the details about the small town, the tourists and the weather are quite accurate. 

  2. 2

    I LOVES me some angst, so Cry No More is one of my favoritist books of all time and I re-read it at least once a year. The beginning has never made me cry…even when I’m re-reading and have a connection to the characters and know what happens, the beginning doesn’t get me. The end does though. Oh, the end definitely does.

    I re-read the ugly-cry books because I like the depth of emotion there. The stories that give me a stomach ache or chills or teary eyes are the ones I love and put on my keeper shelf.

  3. 3
    Algae says:

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is my go-to “I need to cry” book.  It’s lovely and I end up a mess every time.

    One that surprised me with how much I cried was Violet Bridgerton’s story in the Julia Quin epilogue book. Man, I was sniffling and bawling and my husband couldn’t figure out what was going on.

  4. 4

    I’ll be listening to the podcast this afternoon, as I force myself to take my daily walk. There is snow all over, but with a new podcast to listen to, I just may have the motivation to brave it anyway!

    But, I had to say—the last book I ugly cried through was DEEPER by Robin York (aka, Ruthie Knox). It’s her debut NA book, I read an ARC in early December, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I WANT BOOK 2 NOW! *cries*

    Also, anything from Jesscia Scott, especially her last 3 releases, have reduced me to a ugly mess in the corner of the room. Of course, highly recommend!


  5. 5
    Tam says:

    My six year old is currently experiencing his first ugly-cry thanks to literature – we just read the last two chapters of ‘Charlotte’s Web’, and I’m not sure he’ll ever forgive me. ‘No one was with her when she died.’ Children’s literature, people!

  6. 6
    Lara says:

    The last ugly-cry book that I remember clearly is, of all things, the last two volumes of the manga “Fruits Basket”. Without spoiling anything, you finally learn the complete (beautiful, romantic, utterly *heartbreaking*) backstory of one particular character who’s very important to a lot of people in the entire manga. I had to set the book down and sob.

  7. 7

    Chasing Perfect, the first book in Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series, also has a cyclist hero.

  8. 8
    DD says:

    I just Re-Read “The Next Best Thing” by Kristan Higgins. You know when you read something and it makes your heart hurt? 100% ugly cry book, but so good.

  9. 9
    Faellie says:

    Two m/m cycling stories are -

    Hard Tail by J L Merrow
    Spokes by P D Singer

  10. 10
    Divya says:

    I guess I’m really emotional because I cry at EVERYTHING. Seriously, I even cried at Star Trek into Darkness and neither Jim Kirk nor Spock had died in the movie! There have been times where I have had to physically close a book and go take a shower because my face and clothing were so gross from ugly-crying. I’m sure you can imagine what a trainwreck I was when I read the last Harry Potter book. I guess it’s a good thing that I mostly read from my kindle because then all my paper books would be disgusting!

    I think I cry while reading for the same reason I do in real life. Crying is a very therapeutic act for me and it’s a way to mourn/get over something really sad. Until I cry, I can’t fully accept what just happened or move on from it. That’s probably why I only ugly-cry during the first time I read a book. If I reread it, I’ll be sad but I won’t cry because a) my past ugly-cry has already absolved me from my mourning and b) I know that the sad thing is coming and I can mentally prepare for it. After an ugly-cry, I often feel like I’m a different person than I was before reading that book. I guess the best books (with or without ugly-crying) have that effect on people.

    To be fair, me being emotional while reading doesn’t just extend to crying. I’m not exaggerating when I say I cannot be in public and read. I’m always feeling SOMETHING when I read (whether it be amusement, rage, or boredom) and my face is an open book. If I’m really angry at the book or a character, I can’t help but growl at the book. And don’t even get me started on what happens if I start to laugh! I know I’m an anomaly and that I should probably learn to control myself, but it feels SO GOOD to experience and outwardly express my emotions. For me, reading isn’t at all a quiet or stationary act like it is for most people; I frequently roll/trash around my bed and make noises every thirty seconds in response to the text. You wouldn’t believe how satisfying it is to literally flip an alphahole hero off.

    Anyway, thank you for including my message! I will definitely be checking out both the Ruthie Knox and the Susan Mallery (thanks, Shannon Stacy!) books. FYI, Sarah, the cyclist and my friend are still dating! :) I’m also really impressed that you pronounced my name perfectly. You would think that it would be easy to pronounce because it sounds the exact same way that is spelt. I mean, how could anyone pronounce “Divya” as “Diva”?! There’s no “y” in “Diva”!

    Have a great Super Bowl weekend! Go Seahawks!

  11. 11
    jen says:

    I cry watching the happy endings on my cat from hell

  12. 12
    cleo says:

    I don’t ugly cry over books at all – but I do get choked up. I teared up on the el re-reading Soldier’s Heart by Kathleen Korbel (sp?).

  13. 13
    StarOpal says:

    What usually makes other people cry usually makes me angry (like child abuse,etc) or betrayed (death of a beloved character), so it’s more stressful than cathartic. My cry moments come from some true ringing emotional happiness, like when two characters just connect, romantically or otherwise, and find acceptance.

    Movie example: Most everyone I know who cried watching Up cried at the beginning. I cried at the end with the bottle cap.

  14. 14
    Christy says:

    My last ugly cry book was The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I had to stop reading it at work so I could talk to customers without crying all over them.

  15. 15
    Bea says:

    The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery never EVER fails to make me cry. The part where the fox talks to the little prince about frienship is so deep and insightful and moving…

    Re Romance and ugly crying, Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale delivers the goods. Those of you who also enjoy listening to audiobooks will love FFtS narrated by Nicholas Boulton!

  16. 16
    Hyacinth says:

    These are Fantasy, not Romance – but I cry every time I re-read Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy and Tawny Man Trilogy.  Seriously “box of tissues” books for me.

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:


    I know I’m an anomaly and that I should probably learn to control myself, but it feels SO GOOD to experience and outwardly express my emotions.

    I am the same way. Anger, fear, crying, howl-laughing, I do all that, too. The following has ocurred more than once in my house:

    Me: *big sloppy hiccuppy sigh*

    Hubby: Good book, dear?

    Me: *incomprehensible noise*

    Hubby: That’s good.

    And I suspected I had the pronunciation of your name right (like Olivia but with a d) but I confess, I looked it up for a pronunciation guide. :) Glad I got it right!

  18. 18
    cotterpinx says:

    Man, I HATES the ugly cry book. I HATES it, precious! For me, I feel like i ugly cry at life wayyy too much already. Doing it to myself on PURPOSE feels masochistic, not cathartic. I end up feeling so much worse than before. I won’t read/watch/come anywhere near a tear-jerker. I especially hate it when it’s a stealth ugly cry. Titanic? Not so bad; see, I knew the boat was gonna sink. When i have no idea something awful is about to happen? SO MUCH WORSE! That makes me miserable, depressed, and ANGRY all at the same time. I call it the “Out of Africa Effect.” In high school I watched a VHS tape of that movie one day while i was hanging around the house. It was good! I liked it! Then (coming-up-on-30-year-old spoilers!) he DIES! And she’s stuck with the bad husband! Who, BTdubs, gives her SYPHILIS. I was SO ANGRY!! My mom had been out shopping with a friend; when they came back i raged about it to them, and the friend said, “oh, but wasn’t the cinematography beautiful?” O.O …the cinematography? the CINEMATOGRAPHY? HE DIED! (*pant*, *pant*). Still a little riled up, I guess. I may have to rename it the “Up Effect” because i ugly-cried SO MUCH at the beginning that the entire rest of the story was completely irrelevant to me. WHO CARES! ELLIE IS DEAD NOW! (and so on and so forth)

    Anyway, those are the worst. So thanks for warning me away from these books! ;-)

  19. 19
    Nancy says:

    Like Jane, I’m not much of a crier – in real life or when consuming entertainment. I especially don’t cry at romance novels. Since I know that there will be a HEA, I tend to gloss over the “angst” and not let it affect me too much. The only romance that comes to mind is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I cried at Cath’s complicated, changing relationship with her twin sister as she fights her loneliness and desperately wishes she and her sister could go back to before. And that too has to do with recognizing that there wasn’t going to be a perfect HEA for Cath and her sister because their relationship had irreparably changed as the girls grew up.

    But there are other novels that I’ve ugly cried over: Flowers for Algernon, The Kite Runner. I tear up every time I reread the middle grade book There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar. It’s a favorite of mine and the main character’s transformation hits me more now that I’m an adult than when I was a kid.

  20. 20
    DonnaMarie says:

    I am the easiest cry on the planet. I spent a childhood afternoon despondent because a raccoon died on an episode of Lassie.

    But OMG, “Archangel’s Storm” has NOTHING on “Archangel’s Blade”. That was the occasion for a huge ugly cry. Then I went back and reread in the next weekend in some sort of fit of self indulgent masochism.

    And let’s not talk about that plane ride with Alice Hoffman’s “Skylight Confessions”. It was my own fault since, based on experience, I should have known better.

  21. 21
    LauraL says:

    One that guarantees a good cry for me is The Warfield Bride by Bronwyn Williams, no matter how many times I read that book. Life of the Outer Banks was tough back in the day. Hell, it can be now.

    Recently, I sniffled my way through The Arrangement by Mary Balogh. I find as I get older I cry or sniffle more easily. Can’t look at my favorite dog rescue pages on Facebook while I am at work ….

  22. 22
    Jennifer Trinidad says:

    The last volume of Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa still gets me if I think about the scenes leading up to the last page.  The whole manga or comic ( 5 volumes all together) is pretty angsty anyway but the last book tore me up.

  23. 23
    Melissa says:

    I am a light weight and will tear up at the drop of a hat, but for full sobs Linda Winfree immediately comes to mind,  Fall Into Me is a fave. So sad she doesn’t write anymore and seems to have no plans to take it back up.  I still cry on re-reads too, but a least I know it’s coming and can ensure some privacy.

  24. 24
    kkw says:

    I haven’t thought of Out of Africa in years, but yeah, that book made me cry. Thank god I knew what I was getting into with the movie. There are a few authors that reliably choke me up: Tolstoy, Homer, Zola, Brockmann. It induces a love/resentment thing for me, but it doesn’t stop me from rereading. But then, I don’t think a novel has ever made me ugly cry, just some sniffles, maybe deep breathing with a lone escapee tear, or simply some rapid hand waving to fend off incipient emotional impact.

    Totally reiterate the recommendation for the Ruthie Knox book, and flipping out with joy that she has a pen name.

    Also, once again, so thrilled to have these podcasts transcribed.

  25. 25
    moviemavengal says:

    I’m catching up on the podcasts this weekend.

    I have also been a heavy user of for the last 5 years.  It is great when you discover a new author and want to glom their entire backlist!  I built up credits by posting books my kids had grown out of.  And now I also use extra credits to donate books to my kids classroom library.  I just love sending books out because I know they are going to someone who really wants them.  Also, I’ve sent quite a few books to members of the military through Paperbackswap—because they are still part of the US Postal system.

    I’d like to mention another book swap site that is similar—Bookmooch.  It doesn’t seem to have as big a volume of books as Paperbackswap, but it is international so that might appeal to some of your listeners out of the country.  Getting a book from overseas costs 3 credits (or sending gets you 3) because the postage costs can be so much more.  I have obtained some very difficult to find books this way.  And it’s just cool to get mail from England, Australia or Denmark!

    My brother told me about it because his wife is from Japan, and he was looking for books in Japanese from Japan.

    In either case, they aren’t a subscription like the Book service you had described.  You’re not paying a monthly fee, and you can put it them on vacation hold when you’ll be away.

    Great podcast!

  26. 26
    Rachel says:

    Personally I really appreciate DNF reviews, particularly if it’s made obvious how far the reviewer got before abandoning. I think they’re very useful! Generally there’s a reason why the book was abandoned, and it might be a reason that would cause me to abandon it too. So I like to know. (This goes along with my feelings that reviewers are only helpful if they give both positive and negative reviews.)

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