12 Books That Will Surely Make You Cry

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.

There are parts from Christ Recrucified that made me cry like a child lost in a shopping mall. Also, parts from The Great Gatsby, or The Old Man and the Sea.

43 thoughts on “12 Books That Will Surely Make You Cry

  1. Many books have touched me emotionally but only SHANTARAM by Gregory David Roberts made me cry. And it did so both times I read it! It also choked me up a few times at each reading and made me laugh out loud in several places.
    I can’t recommend it enough!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The only book I’ve read from your list is To Kill a Mockingbird. And while I didn’t cry reading that story, it sure did make me feel something emotionally deep. Kind of complex to put into words, but yes.
    Anyway, I’ll keep these recommendations handy when I feel like reading something out of my favored genre. Plus, I always have my eyes on The Book Thief. It’s been appearing on my feed lately…hmm….have you read it yourself?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve read all these books except for “When Breath Becomes Air” – which is on my TBR list. And cried through all. I’d add “The Yearling” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings which turned me into a serious reader and then into a writer when I was a kid. Many of its pages got crumpled from my tears. Great selection, Cristian.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Have read some on your list, including the one that made me cry more than any other book: The book thief. Apart, of course, from Black Beauty, which made me cry as I child and I’m pretty sure would do so now.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I read the Old Man and the Sea very young. I thought it was a children’s book because it was short. I was amazed because I didn’t know that books were allowed to have an unhappy ending. At least, at that age I perceived it as tragic. I thought how amazing, that adult books could end without the “happily ever after”.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I read: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
    I didn’t read: 1, 9, 10, 11, 12
    I watched the movie Atonement (presumably based on the book) and didn’t like it at all.
    Nice list! I need to work through the ones I have not yet read.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That’s a beautiful collection of books, but I have read only the “The Kite Runner” out of the list. Now, I know what should be my next book and I am gonna complete this list of yours. You have given me a challenge.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you for the recommendations! I have only read two of the books from your list- ‘Atonement’ and ‘When Breath Becomes Air’. I am now on a mission to finding the rest of the books becuase they definately seem to be my taste. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I just reposted your blog. Thank you so much, I think we all need to read and maybe read again these books and have a real good cry, for ourselves, for our friends and for the whole world. Love to you ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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