Not always do we turn to books for comfort, solace and joy. Sometimes, what we’re looking for is a good cry – and by good cry, I don’t mean a misting over of the eyes, I mean full breakdowns with violent sobs and swollen eyes. Books with sad endings are often ones that leave the deepest marks on our minds. How else would you explain the insane fame these heartbreaking books have garnered? In any case, if you’re looking for books that will tear your heart into pieces or those that will stay etched in your memory for eternity. Here are 10 books with sad endings, books that will break your heart.
List of 10 Books With Sad Endings | Books That Will Break Your Heart:
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
- Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
- All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Anna Karenina by Leon Tolstoi
- God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanahigara
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- Messages in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Bestselling YA Author John Green’s debut work is a masterpiece, written in his typical style that so many adore. It’s witty and entertaining with touches of philosophy, and of course intensely sad. This boy-meets-girl story of Miles and Alaska is a tragic romance, but it is also so much more than that. It is the story of adolescent grief, of hope within hopelessness and mental illness.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The quintessential tearjerker that tore the hearts of millions, this is the story of Louisa Clark and Will Traynor. Louisa is an ordinary girl with a stable life and no desire for stimulation. After losing her beloved and comfortable job, she is forced to work for Will, a quadriplegic who lived a life full of adventure and intensity before becoming confined to his wheelchair. As Will struggles with his new life, Louisa brings a fresh burst of liveliness into it. In turn, he pushes her to do things outside her comfort zone – to do all the things he can’t. And the end, well, let’s just stay without spoiling anything that it will make you cry for weeks after reading it.
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
A more literary work as compared to the many YA books on this list, this is a work of aching tenderness and melancholy. This story chronicles the doomed romance of the wealthy Shimamura and baseborn geisha Komako. Set in the snowy lands of Japan, where the passage of seasons is unnoticed due to the snow cover and colours and passions are muted by its blanketing effect, this is a work echoing with the brilliance of the Nobel recipient.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
This stunning exploration of mental health and the place love has within it is not your everyday YA read. It is deep, moving and earth-shattering. Disguised as a “meet-cute” story of Violet and Theodore, two suicidal strangers, this novel grapples with huge themes such as grief, death and solace.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is a poignant historical fiction set in Germany during the Second World War. It centers around Liesel, a young girl orphaned at birth and brought to the Hubermann’s house. Narrated by Death, this story follows Liesel through her life of adversity as she discovers her love for books and steals them from the mayor’s library. As the war sets in, things become more dire and the family harbours a Jewish prisoner in their basement. Liesel’s connection with her books, her best friend Rudy and this Jewish man makes this book heartbreakingly and achingly beautiful.
Anna Karenina by Leon Tolstoi
The original tragic romance, this Russian classic is the story of Anna, the wife of Karenin who feels a void in her heart and turns to Count Vronsky to fill it. As an extramarital affair, this romance is doomed from the very beginning, but the feelings of passion and intimacy that layer it make readers intensely invested in it. Tolstoi scales the nethermost depths of every character and breaks his readers’ hearts at every step of the way.
God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Set in Ayemanem in Kerala, this Man Booker winner is the story of twins Estha and Rahel as a heartbreaking tragedy tears their family apart. Written with innocence and beauty, Roy tugs at your heartstrings with every sentence. This is not just a book that will make you cry once, this book will haunt you for all your life.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanahigara
This novel has been making a huge buzz in the book community ever since it came out, and its very cover is a testament to how heartwrenching this book is. The picture on the cover captures fully what this book feels like – a punch in your gut. This is the story of four friends as they grow up and encounter the pits and falls of life in their journey. It deals with themes of childhood trauma, ambition, failure and abuse among others. Diving into the darkest of darknesses, this bleak book is a gravity of pain.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This Pulitzer winning novel is set in France and Germany during the WW2. It’s the story of Marie Laure, a bind girl who seeks shelter in Saint Malo and Werner, a radio enthusiast who joins the Hitler Youth. As these two cling to life and meaning, they find each other and discover hope within war. This book will make you bleed tears, not just at the end but throughout the book. One of the most poignant stories ever told, this one makes no effort to downplay the grief and horror but also keenly portrays the slivers of light in it.
Messages in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks
Did you really think this list could get over without a Nicholas Sparks novel? Sparks is practically the GOD of tragic romances. His writing talent basically consists of making two people perfect for each other meet and creating circumstances that will shatter their romance. This novel is the story of Theresa, a divorcee and Garrett, a man who writes messages in a bottle for his lost love and throws them into the sea. When fate brings the two together, an emotionally intense and beautiful love story emerges. But as with all Nicholas Sparks books, this one, too, is doomed.