The first time I read The Fault in Our Stars , I was prepared for a sad story, but I thought I could handle it. I remember the exact moment I started tearing up, and then, the moment after, when I flipped the page and became a complete and utter mess. I've never been a big crier. It takes a lot for tears to stream down my face, but time and time again, books have found a way to make me cry.
Books are major emotional roller coasters, and it's almost always an amazing ride — even when you end up in tears. And that can be a good thing, because it shows how empathetic you are toward the characters and their fictional problems. It can also help you solve your own problems in life, whether you're going through a rough breakup, a loss, or something else. Books are the best therapists.
I turn to book quotes whenever I can't articulate what I'm feeling. So even when I'm feeling down, it often helps to go back and read some of the more sad, but emotionally powerful, book quotes I've read and loved before. Maybe you're a natural crier and tear up at everything — or maybe you're like me and it takes something personal to get you going. Either way, sometimes the best way to heal or overcome sadness is to let it all out. And in case that's where you're at, get your tissues ready, because here are 22 of the most heartbreaking book quotes of all time:
1. "I guess that’s what saying good-bye is always like — like jumping off an edge. The worst part is making the choice to do it. Once you’re in the air, there’s nothing you can do but let go."
— Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall
2. "She had tricked him. She had made him leave his old self behind and come into her world, and then before he was really at home in it but too late to go back, she had left him stranded there — like an astronaut wandering about on the moon. Alone."
3. "Breathing is hard. When you cry so much, it makes you realize that breathing is hard."
— David Levithan, Love is the Higher Law
4. "So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be."
— Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
5. "I know so many last words. But I will never know hers."
— John Green, Looking for Alaska
6. “There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.”
— Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
7. "You know, a heart can be broken, but it keeps on beating, just the same."
— Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
8. “These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections-sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent-that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it.”
― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
9. "I buried Little Ann by the side of Old Dan. I knew that was where she wanted to be. I also buried part of my life along with my dog."
— Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows
10. "And Percy was shaking his brother, and Ron was kneeling beside them, and Fred’s eyes stared without seeing, the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face."
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
11. "The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself. As if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before."
— John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
12. "When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time — the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers."
— John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
13. "I take no joy in mead nor meat, and song and laughter have become suspicious strangers to me. I am a creature of grief and dust and bitter longings. There is an empty place within me where my heart once was."
— George R. R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire
14. "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."
—Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
15. "As the light begins to intensify, so does my misery, and I wonder how it is possible to hurt so much when nothing is wrong."
― Tabitha Suzuma, Forbidden
16. "The term 'forgive and forget' doesn’t make sense to me. Forgiving does allow us to stop dwelling on an issue, which isn’t always healthy. But if we forget, we don’t learn from our mistakes."
— Meg Cabot, Abandon
17. "You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me."
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
18. "It is such a secret place, the land of tears."
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
19. "Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living."
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
20. "I will not tell you our love story, because — like all real love stories — it will die with us, as it should."
— John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
22. "Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, 'It might have been.'"
— Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
23. “Marianne wanted her life to mean something then, she wanted to stop all violence committed by the strong against the weak, and she remembered a time several years ago when she had felt so intelligent and young and powerful that she almost could have achieved such a thing, and now she knew she wasn’t at all powerful, and she would live and die in a world of extreme violence against the innocent, and at most she could only help a few people. It was so much harder to reconcile herself to the idea of helping a few, like she would rather help no one than do something so small and feeble.”
—Sally Rooney, Normal People
24. “You once told me that the human eye is god's loneliest creation. How so much of the world passes through the pupil and still it holds nothing. The eye, alone in its socket, doesn't even know there's another one, just like it, an inch away, just as hungry, as empty.”
— Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
25. “Depression is like a heaviness that you can’t ever escape. It crushes down on you, making even the smallest things like tying your shoes or chewing on toast seem like a twenty-mile hike uphill. Depression is a part of you; it’s in your bones and your blood.”
— Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes
26. “What we miss — what we lose and what we mourn — isn't it this that makes us who, deep down, we truly are. To say nothing of what we wanted in life but never got to have.”
— Sigrid Nunez, The Friend
27. “No one will know if you stay in bed all day. No one will know if you wear the same sweatpants for the entire month, if you eat every meal in front of television shows and use T-shirts as napkins. Go ahead and listen to that same song on repeat until its sound turns to nothing and you sleep the winter away.”
— Nina LaCour, We Are Okay
28. “The end of things, the real end, is never a neat turn of the screw, never a door that is suddenly shut, but more like an atmospheric change, clouds that slowly gather — more a whimper than a bang.”
— Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive
29. “It's always a matter, isn't it, of waiting for the world to come unraveled? When things hold together, it's always only temporary.”
— Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers
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30. “Fairness is for happy people, for people who have been lucky enough to have lived a life defined more by certainties than by ambiguities.”
— Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life
31. “But maybe that’s the way of life…. To understand things only after they’d passed, only once it was too late.”
— Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
32. “The weight of what has been lost is always heavier than what remains.”
— Brit Bennett, The Mothers
33. “He was suffering, and in a way, he could manage that; but he had caused others to suffer, and he did not know why he had to live now and recall the series of terrible choices that had not looked so terrible at the time. Was that how it was for most people?”
— Min Jin Lee, Pachinko
34. “Guess that's where the tears came from, knowing that there's so much in this great big world that you don't have a single ounce of control over. Guess the sooner you learn that, the sooner you'll have one less heartbreak in your life.”
— Jacqueline Woodson, Red at the Bone
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