Books have the power to make us experience the feelings of others, from the triumphs and joys of a main character, to their trials and tears. Perhaps you remember the last book your read that actually—don’t be shy about this!—made you cry.
The best authors are able to stir up your emotions. They can use the scenes in the story to make you laugh, but they can also make you cry. It may be a story of a lost love, or grief from the death of a loved one, or the moral downfall of a previously-loved heroine.
Why Do People Read Sad Books?
If you are not the type of person to choose a sad book over a happy one, you may wonder why in the world someone would choose to pick up a book that could make you cry.
But remember, just because something is sad doesn’t make it bad. Life itself is not always happy, and coming to grips with loss and grief in the context of a book can actually be cathartic.
Beautifully Written Sad Books For a Good Cry
If you’re looking for some sad books you can sob into, take a look at some of these suggestions:
1. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
Following the lives of college seniors Lucy and Gabe, who fall in love at Columbia University, this book shows all the tests that come with love: the test of making choices, of fate, of loyalty, of war, and of distance.
2. The Ring by Danielle Steel
This heart gripping story follows Ariana, a young girl whose father and brother disappear during World War II and who goes through one painful life experience after another. She ends up pregnant throwing her into an even more emotional journey.
3. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
This novel follows Angel, a woman sold into prostitution as a child during the 1850s. Michael Hosea comes into her life, challenging all her bitterness and loving her until her own frozen heart starts to warm up to him. But realizing her own softening throws her into a flood of fear and feelings of unworthiness, and she runs away, forced to face her own weaknesses.
4. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
This love story focuses in on Lily Dane and the love of her life, Nick, who has left her for her best friend Budgie. To escape the heartbreak, Lily goes back to her family’s summer home on Rhode Island, only to find these exact two people waiting for her at the shore.
5. Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Although Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is typically viewed as a feel-good classic, this last book in the series takes a more tragic twist. Set during World War I, a young girl named Rilla is forced to grow up before her time and say goodbye to the things she holds dear, including her older brothers who go off to war. On top of that, she must also take care of a war baby whose fate she can’t control.
6. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Torus is a college student who remains loyal to only one girl, Naoko, bonded by the tragic death of their best friend several years ago. Their relationship them changes as they deal with the loss that brought them together but may also tear them apart.
7. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
This novel follows the life of Grace, the middle child in her adoptive family. After giving her own baby up for adoption, she goes on a quest to find her biological family and finds two of her biological siblings.
8. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
This raw portrayal of romance follows Lily, her first love from the past, and her current love interest to show the power of love and resilience.
9. Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer
This novel follows the story of a girl who keeps her romance with an older boy a secret in her small town, and almost loses everything in the process.
10. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani
This coming-of-age story follows an African American girl named Taja Brown, as she grows up in Texas amid family expectations and a need to discover herself and where she belongs.
11. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Theodore Finch’s fascination with death has him constantly thinking of ways to kill himself. But, every time, something keeps him from carrying out his plans. He meets Violet Markey, who struggles with moving on after the recent death of her sister, and they both launch a project to explore the beauty of their state.
12. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
When her English teacher gives the class as assignment to write a letter to a dead person, Laurel begins writing one letter after another to people who have passed away, including famous ones like Amelia Earhart and Heath Ledger—but she doesn’t submit them to her teacher and instead uses it as her outlet for all the struggles she’s going through in high school.
13. Madness by Zac Brewer
Brooke Danvers has perfected the act of seeming “fine,” earning her the right to leave inpatient therapy. She also fools her parents and teachers in order to get them off her back long enough for her to succeed in committing suicide. But then she meets Derek, and their intensifying relationship brings out contradicting sides, the best in Brooke and the worst in Derek.
14. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
This book follows the romantic relationship between a Czech doctor named Tomas and the waitress he met while visiting the country. After they are married, Tomas cheats on her with many other women.
15. A World Without You by Beth Revis
Bo is a 17-year-old boy who imagines he can travel through time. His parents decide to send him to a school for troubled youth, but Bo imagines he’s at a school for kids with superpowers.
16. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
August Pullman, a child born with craniofacial issues, has needed more than two dozen surgeries throughout his short 11 years of life. What would life be like when he starts school and the kids find him so different from themselves? This book also inspired the movie of the same name, made into a comedy drama in 2017.
17. All the Ugly Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
This tortured love story follows the life of young Wavy, whose only comfort from her drug-ensnared family is an ex-con named Kellen. The complications of their love story include a lot of the world’s ugliness, including violence, addiction, child abuse, loss, and others.
Reading Sad Books
Overall, reading sad books can serve for good entertainment or for helping you process difficult feelings you may not feel like facing up to yet. Sometimes, all we need may be a good cry, and this list may help you find that.
What about you? What sad books have made you cry and made you feel better afterwards? Share them in the comments below.
Do you have a favorite sad book? Share it with us in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:
- Catharsis: Definition and Examples from Literature
- 20 Books to Read in Your 20s: Books That Will Help You Through Your Most Transformative Decade
- 30 Eye-Opening Books About the Holocaust
- 100 Books to Read Before You Die
Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.