Sometimes you just want to feel moved, and that's exactly the time when the best plan of action is to dive into a pile of books that will make you cry. There's just something so incredibly special about immersing yourself in the world and lives of characters on a page, and getting so wrapped up in their fates that you're driven to genuine tears. It not only feels good, but according Behavioral Neurology Professor Dr. Michael Trimble in an interview with Scientific American, crying over art and literature is one of the traits that makes us uniquely human, and is linked to our ability to feel compassion and empathy stronger than any other creature on the planet. So basically, crying over a good book isn't just satisfying, but it's kind of down right amazing.
Not only that, but Judith Orlath, M.D. says in an article for Psychology Today that crying may reduce stress, meaning it's not only incredible, but potentially useful too.
So now that you're thoroughly amazed by your ability to cry, you're probably wondering which sad book you should read next. Well grab the tissues, because the below list is sure to get the waterworks flowing.
Teens, love, and cancer — there's basically no way this one couldn't end with you crying. But what makes this John Green book so much more than your usual tearjerker is the humor and grace he bestows on all of his ill-fated characters. You'll definitely get a good cry-laugh out of this one.
2. One Day
This book made me cry so hard that it almost makes me angry. It also sparked a great conversation between myself and a friend over what an author "owes" their readers. I definitely recommend reading this at the same time as a friend or two — it's one you're going to want to discuss and is deceptively thought-provoking.
Even though this is technically a YA book, it still packs an incredible punch and reminds you of the randomness of some of life's major events. It's a great one to read or even re-read, no matter how old you get.
There is simply no way you can escape a Jodi Picoult novel without sobbing at least once, and My Sister's Keeper is absolutely no exception. This one tells the story of a 13-year-old girl seeking emancipation from her parents because she is tired of being used as a bone marrow donor for her older sister, who will likely die of leukemia. It's pretty heavy stuff, and perfect if you just want to sob for an entire afternoon.
This completely unique love story somehow combines elements of science fiction and time travel while still feeling completely tethered to reality and human emotions. The ultimate fate of the novel's central characters will leave you heartsick for days. And you'll love every minute of it.
True story: I started crying in the middle of a bookstore when I casually picked this book up and leafed through the first chapter. Plus, Jodi Picoult books are so sad that there couldn't be just one on this list.
The story of George, and his well-meaning but simple best friend Lenny, is so incredibly heartbreaking that it will drive even the most cynical of people to tears. I've seen it happen.
This Judy Blume book paints the portrait of two best friends coming of age every summer on Martha's Vineyard, and may initially seem deceptively like a light beach read; however, it's depth and ultimate tragedy will definitely surprise you for the better. It's one of my favorites.
If you're looking to cry while also being incredibly inspired, this is the book for you. It's the non-fiction account of a man who spends every Tuesday talking to and soaking up the life lessons of Maurie Schwartz, his former college professor who is dying of ALS.
10. The Lovely Bones
This one isn't for the faint of heart — it's told from the point of view of a dead girl who watches her family mourn and fall apart after her rape and murder. The good news is the book is so beautifully written and ultimately carries such a moving perspective on the nature of life and letting go that you'll still be very glad you read it.
OK, so you admittedly will have to read the first six books in the series for this one to make any sense whatsoever, but if you do, it's totally worth it, and you will absolutely be crying within the first 50 pages. And that's not the only part of the book that will make you cry. But that's all I'll say.
So the next time you're in the mood to be emotionally devastated, I highly recommend you pick up one or several of the above books. As hard as they'll make you cry, I guarantee you'll be recommending them to everyone you know.