Have you ever read a book that came at you like a punch to the gut — short and painful? I've rounded up a list of nine short, sad novels you should read the next time you're in need of a good cry, and I encourage you to pick at least one of them up A.S.A.P., especially if you've never read a "gut-punch" novel.
Happy endings are great, but I like sad books, movies, and other media better. Probably because the world is a pretty sad place a lot of the time, those books just seem more realistic to me than the ones with narratives that are all wrapped up in neat and tidy bows.
Even if sad books aren't your thing, I strongly believe that you should have them on your bookshelves and TBR, so you're ready when the situation calls for you to read one of them. If you don't already have a Goodreads shelf full of sad books at your disposal, you should definitely start one today. I've got the first nine entries laid out for you on the list below, and with each one clocking in at less than 300 pages, you'll be able to knock any of them out over the course of a one-day crying jag, easy.
'The Emissary' by Yoko Tawada
Set in an irradiated Tokyo, The Emissary centers on one of Japan's immortal elderly citizens, Yoshiro, who manages the day-to-day care of his great-grandson, Mumei, who is a member of an entire generation born physically fragile.
'The Buddha in the Attic' by Julie Otsuka
Julie Otsuka's 2011 novel begins with the journeys of Japanese picture brides across the Pacific to their new husbands, who are not the young and successful entrepreneurs the women believe they are marrying.
"Brokeback Mountain" by Annie Proulx
The short story that became an acclaimed blockbuster film, "Brokeback Mountain" traces several decades in the lives of Ennis and Jack, two ranch hands who begin a love affair as teenagers herding sheep on the titular mountain.
'Annihilation' by Jeff Vandermeer
In this short novel from Borne author Jeff VanderMeer, four women — a biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist — journey into the uncharted Area X as part of the 12th expedition to understand its strange effects on the local flora and fauna.
'Human Acts' by Han Kang
The interweaving stories in Han Kang's Human Acts revolve around Dong-ho, a teenager killed during the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in South Korea.
'The Book of Unknown Americans' by Cristina Henríquez
Star-crossed lovers Maribel Rivera and Mayor Toro lie at the heart of this novel, which centers on their Mexican and Panamanian families navigating the American immigration system.
'We Were Liars' by E. Lockhart
Cadence spends every summer at her grandfather's island estate, where she connects with her cousins: Johnny, Mirren, and Gat. After a head injury prevents her from spending two consecutive summers on the island, Cadence is happy to return, but everything — from her grandfather's estate to her cousins' behavior — has changed.
'A Boy in Winter' by Rachel Seiffert
Set during WWII, A Boy in Winter weaves in and out of the lives that are brought together when the Nazis begin to imprison Jewish families inside an unused factory near a Ukrainian town.
'Stay With Me' by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
After four, childless years of marriage, Yejide discovers that her husband Akin has taken a second wife, whom their families hope will provide him with children.