One of the many beautiful things about literature is that it captures your emotions. These emotions may vary, from utter joy to the most profound sadness. However, we can all agree that a good book needs to tug on your heartstrings.
Emotional, sad, and tragic books will resonate with something inside you. They will evoke memories and sensations everyone can relate to. It is no wonder that the characters' fates in these sad books will stay with us a long time after reading them.
Take a look at our list if you are up for feeling emotional. These books will make you cry, on top of being unique pieces of literature. The list below does contain spoilers, so look away if you are yet to read them!
22. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
This is a tale of a friendship that spans four decades. The story is set in Afghanistan during a time when societal pressure and violence dominated the country.
However, this tear-jerker masterfully intertwines themes of family and friendship. If you are a fan of sad books that will make you cry, this is an essential read.
21. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
A classic in every sense, this tragic story about two lovers Cathy and Heathcliffe, is sure to play you're your emotions. It is a passionate story set in the wild Yorkshire countryside.
As an amazing piece of literature, it is one of the most enduring sad books to date, and it is undoubtedly one of the books that will make you cry.
20. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
If you are not afraid to dive into complex topics, you are sure to like this book. It tells a story of a fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon.
She narrates the story of her own rape and murder as she resides in heaven. It is a heartbreaking novel among the books that will make you cry, written by Alice Sebold.
19. The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens
Dickens is a master writer, and his books have endured the test of time. Most of his books will make you cry, and this goes for the Curiosity Shop too.
This is the story of the young orphan Nell Trent. He is forced into leaving her grandfather's curiosity shop in an attempt to seek her fortune. This tragic book stands as a reminder of the cruelties of the Victorian era, some of which are still true today.
18. In Every Moment We Are Still Alive - Tom Malmquist
This is an autobiographical novel by the Swedish writer Tom Malmquist. He recalls the tragedy that radically changed his life. It is a story of the loss of his partner during childbirth.
Soon after, Malmquist's father dies, leaving him adrift. While stories about tragedies are familiar in literature, they are not usually told as autobiographical novels. This sad book is about ready to tear your heart out.
17. Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
The plot speaks of a former playboy, world traveler, and adrenaline-junkie Will Traynor who is left a quadriplegic after an accident. In the years that follow, he just wants to die.
However, his mother hires Louisa Clark to be his companion and carer. As such, they strike up a relationship that neither one expects to feel so deeply. We all know how it ends and why it is about the most famous books that will make you cry.
16. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
You might wonder how this beautiful novel made its way on our list of books that will make you cry because it has the power to take you back to your childhood and restore you to your old wandering days.
It speaks about a pilot that crash-lands in the desert. Here he would meet a mysterious little boy who claims to be a prince. During the next eight days, while the pilot repairs his plane, the Little Prince tells the pilot his life story. And it is such a story!
15. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
This classic speaks of loss and how to get through it. It features a girl called Rosemary who laments for her lost sister Fern.
However, the story takes on new complexity when you realize that Fern isn't actually a human being. It doesn't make the story any happier.
14. When A Crocodile Eats The Sun: A Memoir Of Africa - Peter Godwin
This is the sequel to Godwin's Mukiwa. It is a sad book that will make you cry tears on both a global and personal level.
The story recounts the journalist's investigation into Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's regime of terror as well as the death of his father. There is no way you can't be horrified about what's happening in Zimbabwe.
13. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
The book follows Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, who live with their mother. Their father is off fighting in the Civil War. This excellent book accompanies the girls as they grow up, learning about their personalities.
The story is told mainly through the eyes of Jo. While it has a number of emotional moments, the saddest part is the death of their youngest sibling.
12. Where The Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls
A classic that features a boy called Billy who saves money to buy two coonhounds. They are named Old Dan and Little Ann, and Billy raises them to be champion hunters.
However, they hunt a mountain lion one night, and Old Dan gets badly injured, helping Little Ann defend Billy from the lion. The story turns tragic as Old Dan dies from his injuries and Little Ann from a broken heart.
11. A Prayer For Owen Meany - John Irving
This is a story in which John Irving reflects on the miraculous life of his friend Owen Meany. It is a tragic book about a boy who sacrifices himself to save many children from a grenade. As such, this is definitely one of the books that will make you cry.
10. The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro
As all of the masterpieces of this Nobel prize-winning artist, this book is a rollercoaster of emotions. It talks about the wars between the Saxons and the Britons in post-Arthurian Britain.
The main protagonists are Axl and Beatrice, an elderly British couple. They set off to visit their son, whom they hadn't seen in years. However, a strange mist has caused mass amnesia throughout the land, and they can scarcely remember anything about him. It is a book of sadness and discovery.
9. A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
Ove is the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell. But not everything about Ove is terrible.
After all, he has quite a reason to be angry with the entire world. When two young girls and their parents move in next door, everything is about to change.
8. Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity - Katherine Boo
This heart-wrenching book comes from the Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo. She immersed herself in a slum of Mumbai to tell the stories of the people who live there.
The book talks about the lives, hopes, and hurts of the families. They are all richly painted and bring home the individual struggles and systemic obstacles that stand in the way of people rising above the inequality into which they are born. It is told from a unique perspective, and it is sure to be one of the books that will make you cry.
7. Mischling - Affinity Konar
The books that will make you cry usually speak of tragedy that accompanies wars. Take a look at this masterpiece from Affinity Konar, which talks about the Mengele's Zoo at Auschwitz. Here people with unique characteristics – albinism, twins, and dwarfism among them – were singled out for human experiments.
This is where twins Pearl and Stasha devise ways to endure their torture and maintain hope of survival and life outside the Zoo – until one of them disappears. The story doesn't end here. After the camp is liberated, the search for life, normalcy, and each other are paramount.
6. Fierce Kingdom - Gin Phillips
This book is a true page-turned on top of being very emotional. It speaks about a mother and a child who is running away from gunshots.
The moment-by-moment nature of this book brings the reader close to the trauma of mass shootings. As you read further, the story uncovers, and it is a heart-wrenching one.
5. A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara
This sad book speaks about four friends who move to New York after graduating from college. They have big dreams of successful careers. JB is an artist, Willem an aspiring actor, Malcolm an architect, and Jude a lawyer.
When the story stops on Jude, things change. Jude is insular and mysterious, and as the story progresses, the degree of his damage and suffering emerges.
4. A Long Way Gone - Ishmael Beah
As books about war go, this is one of the books that will make you cry. It is a true tragedy, especially since the main protagonist is a child. Ishmael Beah was a regular 12-year-old boy in Sierra Leone when the war came.
When the rebels marched through his town, he was suddenly left alone. After surviving for months, at times with a small group of boys, at times completely alone, starvation and desperation brought him to a village that seemed safe.
But his tragedy doesn't end here as he is pressed into service by the government army, drugged, and trained as a killer.
3. Calling My Name - Liara Tamani
The lyrical of this book-writing alone is enough to break your heart quietly. The journey the Taja goes on to find love, and herself, while growing up in a conservative family is a story that so many of us can relate to.
This emotional novel tells a coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas.
2. The Dangerous Art Of Blending In - Angelo Surmelis
This is a novel about a boy trying to find the courage to come out while living in an abusive household. The protagonist has a strict immigrant Greek mother who refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. Due to this, it is difficult for our young protagonist to figure out where he fits in.
1. A World Without You - Beth Revis
As always, Beth Revis is a master at tugging at emotions, and this is undoubtedly one of the books that will make you cry. It is a story about a seventeen-year-old Bo who has always had delusions that he can travel through time. What happens when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth?
Bo assumes he knows the truth - that he's actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have superpowers. As you can imagine, things take on a tragic turn.