Friday, February 21, 2014

Follow Friday - In 146 B.C. Scipio Aemilianus Breached the Walls of Carthage, Ending the Third Punic War

It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Redhead Reader and Teen Book Hoots.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What was the last book that made you cry?

To be perfectly honest, I don't recall any book ever actually making me cry. That is not to say I haven't experienced an emotional response to reading a book. Some books have made me sad. Some books have made me happy. Some books have made me angry. And so on. But I don't think I have ever been invested in a book so thoroughly that I ended up crying while reading it.

The closest I think I have come is while reading  Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. The book details the story of Charlie Gordon, a mentally disabled man who undergoes an experimental treatment that has the result of tripling his intelligence. The unforeseen side effect of the treatment - which is discovered through Charlie's co-test subject the lab rat Algernon - is that the intelligence gain is temporary, and the subject will die an early death. The first half of the book is a depiction of Charlie's triumphant rise from a man with the mental acuity of a small child to a fully realized (although emotionally stunted) super-genius. This is moderately interesting and more or less standard pulp science fiction. The second half of the book describes Charlie's slow but inevitable decline from the lofty heights he had attained, back to a man with fairly substantial mental retardation. The tragedy in these pages is not just that Charlie is losing his recently won intelligence, but that he knows he is losing it. Charlie can remember being smart and remember being able to do things even though he is unable to do them any more. In the end, Gordon leaves, knowing he will die so and unable to face those who knew him when he was temporarily brilliant, leaving behind his journal and its last line, written his broken and misspelled English, plaintively requesting that someone be sure to leave flowers on Algernon's grave, because Charlie won't be around do that any more.

It is the second half of the book that is so sad and makes the book so powerful and enduring. Oddly, it is this sad ending that many editors wanted to change or eliminate, usually by having Charlie not suffer the decline in his intelligence, and not behave so boorishly that he offended the woman he was pursuing. Instead, several editors told Keyes to change to book so Charlie stayed intelligent, got the girl, and ended up living happily ever after. But if Keyes had listened to them, the resulting story probably would have still been commercially viable, but it would have been long-forgotten pablum by now. It is the tragedy of Charlie Gordon that gives the story its longevity, and which also drew from me the most intense emotional response I have had while reading a book.

Go to subsequent Follow Friday: 147 Is the Highest Possible Break in Snooker

Follow Friday     Home


  1. I'm about to read Flowers for Algernon and can't wait, although now I'm slightly scared because I do cry quite easily when it comes to good books! Thanks for sharing :) Hope you have a good weekend! I'm an old follower!
    my Friday post
    Juli @ Universe in Words

    1. @Juli Rahel: Flowers for Algernon is a great book because of its sad ending, not in spite of it, so I'm sure you will get a lot out of it.

  2. I have not read this book but it sure looks very interesting.. :)
    New GFC follower..

    Nikita @ Njkinny's World of Books

    1. @Nikita Johri: It is one of the great classic works of science fiction.

  3. I don't have a lot of books that have made me cry either. I usually try to avoid those thoughts.
    Interesting pick :) glad to hear the sadness only made the book more powerful.
    New GFC follower

    My F&F

    1. @Lily B: Without Charlie Gordon's decline, the book would not be nearly as good.

  4. The Dog Star by Peter Heller. Flowers for Algernon always does it as does Death Be Not Proud. And Charlotte's Web. Killers, all of them.