Art is supposed to make you feel something, right? And what more can you ask from a book other than to be moved by it in such a way that you end up shedding a few tears?
Also, psychologists claim that crying is kind of good for releasing stress and making you stronger emotionally, so here are twelve books that are guaranteed to make you cry.
1. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
It is impossible not to cry over this doomed love story. Leo Gursky is the kind of character that once upon a time was someone. Now, he’s no one. He’s alive, but not living. He’s expecting to die at any moment. But it wasn’t always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book…
Once upon a time there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword. A pebble could be a diamond. A tree a castle.
Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a house across the field from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was Queen and he was King. In the autumn light, her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls. When the sky grew dark they parted with leaves in their hair. Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.
2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Streetwise George and his big, childlike friend Lennie are drifters, searching for work in the fields and valleys of California. They have nothing except the clothes on their back, and a hope that one day they’ll find a place of their own and live the American dream.
But dreams come at a price, one that may be too great to be paid.
A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.
3. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult
Jodi Picoult has a real talent for writing the kind of stories that make you wish you didn’t have a heart. My Sister’s Keeper is the story of two young sisters, one of whom is suffering from cancer. The younger was conceived and born in order to “save” her older sister as her medical match for transplants.
The younger sister decides to sue her parents for medical emancipation to prevent having to give one of her kidneys to her sister.
Through teardrops, you’ll be thinking about family, medical ethics, loss, and the love between sisters.
Maybe who we are isn’t so much about what we do, but rather what we’re capable of when we least expect it.
4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This best-selling novel by Audrey Niffenegger tells the love story of Clare and Henry—which would be so perfect if only Henry didn’t have a genetic illness that causes him to travel through time without warning. This causes his wife Clare all kinds of hassles and heartache. The out-of-order love story captures the loss inherent to love as it constantly moves in and out of moments.
This story covers the lives and tragic turns for both characters. It pulls on your heartstrings even as it inspires through romantic notions about feeling like you know someone when you’ve only just met.
Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?
5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Partly set in Afghanistan, this unforgettable, heartbreaking story chronicles the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant.
The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons — their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
An unusual yet powerful story, guaranteed to make you cry.
She said, ‘I’m so afraid.’ And I said, ‘why?,’ and she said, ‘Because I’m so profoundly happy, Dr. Rasul. Happiness like this is frightening.’ I asked her why and she said, ‘They only let you be this happy if they’re preparing to take something from you.
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s masterpiece is still taught in English classes because of its universal themes and ever-relevant lessons about race, class, and gender.
To Kill a Mockingbird follows a young girl, Scout, as she watches her father defend Tom, a black man accused of raping a white woman. and the underlying prejudices of the time makes his sentence all but certain.
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, served as basis for an incredibly popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century time and time again.
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set in Nazi Germany during World War Two, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a ten-years old girl who has been abandoned by her Communist mother and has been dumped with two foster parents. Life is tough during the war, but then the family decides to take in Max Vandenburg, a Jew.
It’s thought-provoking, tragic and one of those books that everyone should read at least once.
Oh, and the novel’s narrator is no one other than Death itself.
I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.
8. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
As the title states, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s story is about a prince, stranded and lonely in a vast desert. He meets a pilot who has crashed his plane there. The two form a close bond and the Little Prince tells the pilot of his adventures on other planets. You’ll hear of the Little Prince’s love for a rose, his taming by a fox, and his constant requests for drawings. The pilot grows to adore his new friend.
But the tragic ending hits hard as it deals with big themes about the human condition: love, loss, and friendship. You’ll find yourself crying at what is devastating and beautiful at the same time.
You’re beautiful, but you’re empty…One couldn’t die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives or to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and music — when all one requires to feel infinite is that perfect song on that perfect drive.
Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.
So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.
10. Atonement by Ian McEwan
Atonement is a vivid description of life as a wartime nurse in London. Briony, must come of age quickly when confronted with desperate, dying young men. The descriptions are both brutal and tender and essential to her story.
P.S. I cried like I was a professional mourner when reading this one.
It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.
11. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Taking place during the 1930s, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter captures the struggles of a group of small-town misfits who yearn desperately to make something more out of their lives. Their individual stories revolve around the fascinating perspective of a deaf and mute man named John, and the novel is a dark reflection of the mistreatment spurred by the human condition.
You’ll be shocked at the atrocities that happen toward the end of the book.
The Heart is a lonely hunter with only one desire! To find some lasting comfort in the arms of another’s fire…driven by a desperate hunger to the arms of a neon light, the heart is a lonely hunter when there’s no sign of love in sight!
12. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated.
When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student into a neurosurgeon at Stanford, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all.
When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a man who became both.
There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.
Of course, there are plenty other books that made me cry, but didn’t want you to think of me as a crybaby.