11 Sad Books for When You Need a Good Ugly-Cry

We love a light and breezy read, but sometimes we want a book that really makes us feel. That’s where these 11 sad books come into play. Load up your Kindle (and your Amazon cart…with tissues).

17 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2017

sad books zusak

1. "the Book Thief" By Markus Zusak

This 2005 novel follows a young girl in Nazi Germany who, following the death of her brother, is sent to live with foster parents who open her eyes to both the power of words and the chaos and loss surrounding her. Her solution? To steal banned books before they can be burned.

sad books foer

2. "extremely Loud And Incredibly Close" By Jonathan Safran Foer

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is wise beyond his years and mourning the loss of his father when he finds a mysterious key in his closet. His subsequent journey around New York City to find answers is riddled with humor, sweetness and intense grief.

sad books deraniyagala

3. "wave" By Sonali Deraniyagala

This is a devastating account of the author’s life before and after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which claimed the lives of her entire family, including her husband and two young sons. Despite the bleak subject matter, Deraniyagala injects the slightest amount of hope into her story—but don’t expect to get through it without bawling.

sad books hosseini

4. "the Kite Runner" By Khaled Hosseini

This 2003 novel about a wealthy merchant and his servant is set against the backdrop of the final days of the Afghan monarchy—and will make you seriously cry as you watch an unlikely relationship torn assunder.

sad books moyes

5. "me Before You" By Jojo Moyes

Louisa takes a job caring for Will, a wheelchair-bound man who has decided he wants to die. Their relationship, while rocky at first, eventually grows into something more fulfilling than either expected, making the book’s inevitable end even more upsetting.

sad books kalanithi

6. "when Breath Becomes Air" By Paul Kalanithi

As beautifully written as it is devastating, this young neurosurgeon’s memoir of dying of cancer reflects on the nature of a meaningful life—and will have you reexamining your own relationships and attention to gratitude.

sad books ishiguro

7. "never Let Me Go" By Kazuo Ishiguro

Anything but your typical dystopian sci-fi, this remarkably subtle novel imagines what life would be like if you were a clone, born to have your organs harvested in early adulthood. (We repeat: weirdly subtle and haunting.)

sad books yanagihara

8. "a Little Life" By Hanya Yanagahira

Four graduates from a small college in Massachusetts move to New York to follow their dreams and escape their demons. There, their relationships deepen, and painful (like, seriously messed up) secrets from their past emerge.

sad books doerr

9. "all The Light We Cannot See" By Anthony Doerr

Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winner tells the story of French girl and German boy on opposite sides of World War II. Doerr examines the horrors of war, treating both characters with equal empathy.

sad books niffenegger 1

10. "the Time Traveler's Wife" By Audrey Niffenegger

Clare and Henry meet at the ages of 6 and 36. But thanks to a genetic disorder that causes Henry to time travel at random increments, they’re able to marry when Clare is 23 and Henry 31. The unpredictability of their encounters will have you weeping for true love to win out.

sad books steinbeck

11. "of Mice And Men" By John Steinbeck

If Lenny asking George if he can tend the rabbits doesn’t make you cry, you might be a robot.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...