Books That Broke My Heart

Do you like books that make you cry? It’s my understanding that some people seek out tear-jerkers, just for the release. I am pretty much always on the edge of tears anyway, so I don’t really need a book to give me a push. 

Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying I’m sad all the time – it’s just that I tend to be A Crier. I tear up at sappy movies… at the end of the school year, and the beginning of the school year, and anytime a teacher says something nice about my daughter… I get misty when my friends have new babies or get promotions or talk passionately about something they’re working on… and, man, Subaru commercials make my eyes a little damp. 

So it isn’t a surprise that a good book – even if it’s not necessarily a sad book – can get me a little choked up. (Anxious People, I’m looking at you.) 

But despite the occasional sniffle, I wouldn’t say that many books make me cry-CRY. Perhaps that’s because I read a lot of thrillers and murder mysteries and I’m so eager to find out whodunit that I can’t spare a tear for the victims. Perhaps it’s because I actively steer clear of tear-jerkers. (The same goes for movies and TV shows – give me a fast-paced action adventure over a sappy romance any day.)

However, I will admit that a small handful of books have made me full-on WEEP. Like, ugly cry. Nose running, tears gushing, sobbing out loud. 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: This book follows four classmates across the decades of their friendship. It is the saddest, most devastating book I have ever read. It is also beautifully written, the characters are complex and nuanced and wonderful, the story is exquisitely plotted — it’s a book that will change you. I think about the protagonist, Jude, ALL THE TIME and I read this book back in 2016. 

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez: A writer’s mentor dies and leaves her his dog. This is not a storyline that appeals to me. And yet this is one of my FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME. Yes, the caps are necessary. The writing in this book is perfect. It’s insightful, fascinating, funny. And when it ended I sat on my couch and cried until I had no tears left. (You can find my full review here.)

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: This is a love story between Henry and Clare. Henry has a unique genetic quirk: he involuntarily travels through time. The way this book is put together — crisscrossing time — is masterful. And the love story is perfection. You absolutely fall in love with Henry and Clare, and the heartbreak of their relationship worms its way into your soul.

What books have made you cry?

4 thoughts on “Books That Broke My Heart

  1. I read The Friend on your recommendation years ago, and it was just wonderful.

    I am not really a crier; I don’t cry or tear up often. I will tell you two books that made me actually cry: Of Mice and Men, and Flowers For Algernon. I will never read those books again, but the thought of them makes me well up.

    Maybe I should read “A Little Life” because sometimes I need that crying release.


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