Although most people might find it weird, many of us readers gravitate towards the occasional sad book from time to time. I must admit, it’s not my go-to reading material, but I enjoy the occasional sad book every now and then. The following post contains a collection of 15 sad books to read in 2024.
Why would anyone in their right mind purposely read a book that will rip their hearts into little pieces and make them cry? Because the following books are beautifully written and they all tell a story. Just because the storyline is gut wrenching, it doesn’t mean the book should be dismissed. Yes, they’re sad and hard to digest for some, but the following 15 books are so beautifully written, you don’t mind shedding a tear or two.
You will get all the feels with these books, but the authors deserve all the praise for their beautifully written novels. Deep and uniquely narrated, they all offer the reader a great experience. These are only a few of the best written sad books out there, but you can definitely find more should you choose to.
These are 15 sad books I recommend for everyone to read in 2024.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
While its presented format wasn’t my favorite, this sad story is beautifully written. You can feel the author’s pain as he wrote those letters to his mother. It touches upon a few important themes as well, and his unique storytelling style will not leave you unmoved.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Although this book did not work for me, it is still one of the authors’ most notable works. It is a sad, candid look at the author’s pain following her husband’s death. Daring and honest, Didion tells it like it is, even if grief is extremely hard to navigate.
The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
This sad story follows Margot on the search for her mother’s past, a past she wasn’t familiar with while she was still alive. Determined to find out who her mother truly was, this narration is heart-wrenching while very eye-opening into Korean culture.
Beautiful World, Where Are You? By Sally Rooney
Rooney has managed once again to mesmerize us with her current prose. She does the white privileged voice so well, yet you can feel the deep sadness most of her characters possess. This is another hopeful novel that a better world does exist, we just have to figure out how to find it.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
This lyrical story is narrated with a bold, unique voice. There’s no doubt the author is one of the best contemporary talents of our times, and this novel is her best one yet, in my opinion. It is a sad, depressing tale of a young woman who isolates herself after the loss of her parents. While on the surface she seems like she has it all, her inner demons eat at her and she cannot handle everyday life.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Part historical novel that spans over seven decades, part literary fiction, this book is a great depiction of how hard things were for homosexual men in the 60s and 70s Ireland. A talented raconteur, Boyne’s novel will make you cry at times, while at others you will laugh out loud. Many parts of this masterpiece are truly sad, and its relatability is one of the reasons this book resonated with so many readers.
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
I loved this sad account of two young siblings trying to survive in East Oakland. While this is a work of fiction, it unfortunately is many young African Americans’ everyday reality. That is probably what makes this book even more depressing. Told from a very young voice, the book is a great option for this category.
Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner
This is a beautiful memoir that is a tribute to the author’s mother. In order to feel her pain as she’s narrating her own book, this is a great book to listen to on audio. She tells her story with so much raw emotion, you will find yourself tearing up at times. An important sad book to add to your list.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
While I absolutely loved this book (it was my favorite of 2023), this novel is a sad family saga at its core. The Padovano sisters have an incredible bond, but their life choices tear the family apart. Beautifully written, the exceptional storytelling of Napolitano will transport you to the complicated world of the Padovanos.
You can read my full review here:
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Another great author to get acquainted with, Makkai’s novel is a heart wrenching tale of friendship and tragedy. The Great Believers is a book to keep on your radar. Told from two timelines, the 80s and the present time, the story takes the reader on a sad journey. But it is so beautifully written, you will overlook the hard subject matter and get entrenched in the characters’ lives.
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
If you are a loyal reader, you know that I previously mentioned this book on the blog a few times already. I think it also fits the sad book category, therefore I needed to include it. For those not familiar with Romanian history, this book is a realistic depiction of life within the Communist regime. Before 1989, when the revolution that freed Romanians from a tyrant took place, Romanians were living their lives in constant fear. They didn’t know who they could trust, so they didn’t live fulfilling, happy lives. I strongly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction.
For other historical fiction recommendations, check out my previous post:
The Solitude Of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
Beautifully written and highly intellectual, this book is a must-read. It is basically about two misfits trying to navigate life from childhood to adulthood. The way they approach things is what makes this novel sad, yet astounding at the same time. Highly recommend it, especially as I just finished it and it’s still fresh in my mind.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
This sad, sad book will not only make you cry, but will make you angry at how Vivek was treated by his peers. Its seriousness and hard-to-digest subject matter might not be for everyone, but if you can handle the trigger warnings, definitely give this one a go. There’s strong themes of self-identity and acceptance in this heart wrenching novel.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
If you haven’t read anything by Lisa Genova yet, I absolutely recommend this book. I’ve read a couple of her novels and this one is my favorite by far. I read it years ago, watched the movie as well, and it will remain imprinted in my head forever. Genova has a way of building a believable story that will tear your heart in little pieces. Beautiful prose and relatable characters, this is one of the best sad books ever written.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This is the absolute heart-wrencher that will make you sob uncontrollably. Yes, it will take your hearts and rip it into pieces, but it is one of the best written books I’ve read in my life. The ultimate tear-jerker, every reader should read this extremely sad book at least once. There isn’t much more I can say about this book I haven’t said already other than you need this book in your life. Go grab it now!
This concludes my list of 15 sad books you should read in 2024. All of these will make you feel some strong emotions, but you will not be able to put them down. When you’re ready to shed some tears, give any of these books a chance.
Which other sad books do you feel should go on this list? Let me know in the comment box below. As per usual, keep reading my fellow bookworms!