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20 Books That Are Guaranteed To Make You Cry

20 Books That Are Guaranteed To Make You Cry

Have you ever had one of those days when all you wanted to do was read an emotionally powerful story that would provoke you to tears? OK, maybe that wasn’t your endgame, but most of us love to be captivated by stories that reach us on multiple levels, including sadness.

We like these stories because they effortlessly connect us with characters and circumstances that we dream up in our own minds. We have to do some of the legwork, but that makes the impact significantly deeper.

There are plenty of books that make you cry and that you can really sink your teeth into, but you surely want some of the best. Here are 20 books that will have you crying (and sometimes laughing) in no time.

1. The Kite Runner

Kite Runner

    This realistic and moving portrayal of life in Afghanistan accounts for the people who were badly affected by the Taliban. You’ll cry as you get to know the familial relationships and cruelty involved, but you’ll also get a sense of hope as you quickly read through this gripping novel.

    2. To Kill a Mockingbird

    To Kill a Mockingbird

      In case you didn’t have the privilege of reading this in high school (I sadly didn’t), To Kill a Mockingbird is an essential, heart-wrenching classic. Told through the eyes of young children in 1930s Alabama, a black man is accused of raping a white woman, and the underlying prejudices of the time makes his sentence all but certain.

      3. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

      The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

        This book takes you through waves of emotion as you start to understand the full context of the main character, the 9-year-old son of the Auschwitz commandant. Taking place during the Holocaust, we witness the horror from his perspective, a boy who just wants friends. You’ll be shocked by some of the more startling aspects of the book as the boy, Bruno, befriends one of the Jewish boys on the other side of the fence.

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        4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

        The Perks of Being a Wallflower

          This coming-of-age tale holds almost nothing back as it starts off with a suicide and goes from there. Centered around the sensitivity of a brilliant, but troubled, teen named Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an honest and adult-themed story that will likely resonate with your own experiences.

          5. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

          annefrank

            You probably know the true story; a girl writes a deep and introspective diary while hiding in an absurdly small crawlspace for two years with other Jewish fugitives during the Holocaust. The sad foreboding throughout the story is palpable, especially as you progressively become attached to each of these people who were real human beings going through the ordeal.

            6. The Book Thief

            The_Book_Thief_by_Markus_Zusak_book_cover

              Let’s put it this way: Death itself is the narrator. The story is about a young girl named Liesel who has to live with foster parents during the height of World War II. On the way to her new home, her brother dies, setting the somber tone for the story. There is hope, however, when Liesel discovers her love for reading and forges a relationship with a young Jewish man she helps hide from the Nazis.

              7. The Fault in Our Stars

                This is probably the most likely book on the list to make you cry, as it chronicles the experiences of teens who are dying from cancer and living their last days in love. Their lifestyle is tragic and jarring at the same time, as we watch them deteriorate. The real tragedy is the love story between the main characters, who know that their romance is doomed.

                8. A Child Called “It”

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                a-child-called-it

                  Easily one of the saddest stories of abuse in recent decades, A Child Called It is based on the true story of Dave Pelzer, a boy from California who suffered at the hands of his sadistic family. The tears will come from both sadness and the inspiration tied to Dave’s fight for survival in an environment where he is deemed worthless.

                  9. Clean

                  Clean

                    The premise of Clean is pretty straightforward. Five kids who are addicted to drugs have to find a way to repair their lives within a rehabilitation center. The problem is that they pretty much hate each other and their situation, but they have to rise above it in order to get their lives back. It’s a difficult read in the sense that these kids have truly hit rock bottom.

                    10. Hyperbole and a Half

                      This book may seem like it’s just comedy and the best of witty writing (and it is), but there is a self-aware frankness to the pages of illustrations and real-life stories that are reflective of author Allie Brosh’s own struggles with the meaning of her life, depression, suicide, etc. The undertones are there and ready for you to fall in love with, just don’t be surprised if you start to tear up from both laughter and sorrow.

                      11. Resurrection

                        If you prefer your tearjerkers to be more classic (and in this case, written by one of the best novelists of all time), then Tolstoy’s Resurrection is vital reading. One of his less famous works, though it was his last, Resurrection details the life of a nobleman whose actions land a maid into prostitution and eventually a prison wrought with some of the worst conditions possible. His attempts to redeem himself and save her are both harrowing and tragic all at once. Click here to purchase.

                        12. The Giving Tree

                          Technically, The Giving Tree is a poem, not a novel. But the poignant message underneath it will prompt you to revisiting the beautiful words and illustrations again and again. It provokes sadness from us; not only because of the story itself but also because of the real implications that come with the human condition. People will be arguing over the “true” meaning behind this classic for years to come.

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                          13. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

                            Taking place in the 1930s, this book captures the struggles of a group of small-town misfits who yearn desperately to make something more out of their lives. Their individual stories revolve around the fascinating perspective of a deaf and mute man named John, and the book is a dark reflection of the mistreatment spurred by the human condition. You’ll be shocked at the atrocities that happen toward the end of the book.

                            14. Revolutionary Road

                              Nothing seems to depress people more than the failure of the American dream, which is what Revolutionary Road presents in spades. Full disclosure: I did watch the movie before reading the book for this one, but I wish I hadn’t. The story of Frank and April Wheeler, who want nothing more than to break out of the depressing rut of suburbia, shows a darker side to the 1950s, an era typically regarded as peaceful and happy. Though the movie captures this tone fine, the book is much more likely to grab you. 

                              15. Bridge to Terabithia

                                Even if you have already watched the movie based on this instant classic by Katherine Paterson, I strongly recommend you pour some time into the book. It takes your imagination on a bit of a roller-coaster ride and then leaves you hanging to fall, as the world it has created so well begins to fall apart. The turmoil that Jesse, the main character, goes through during the end of the book is one of the hardest events I’ve ever read through.

                                16. Wisdom Hunter

                                  Unlike many of the other books on this list, the somber tones of Wisdom Hunter occur very early in the story, getting brighter over time. After the tragic death of his daughter, a former pastor’s family completely falls apart. At the end of his rope, he discovers that his daughter gave birth to a baby girl before her passing, setting him on a 20-year journey to find his grandchild. His journey spans countries and memorable experiences, but his own personal growth is what makes this story an unforgettable triumph.

                                  17. One Day

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                                    Another story that spans 20 years, One Day tells the story of two friends who love each other, but life prevents them from forming a real relationship. As the story progresses, so does their bond, resulting in a climax that is difficult to feel unaffected by. Their love story is tragic, gripping and sure to make you cry toward the end.

                                    18. Anne of Green Gables

                                      A literary classic (and one of the most quotable movies the 1980s gave us), Anne of Green Gables is the story of a young orphan girl growing up in the early 1900s. Though she was mistakenly adopted by a family who wanted a boy, she wins their hearts, along with the other residents of her town on Prince Edward Island. A beautiful story that is filled with strife, angst, zaniness and sadness, these novels are must-reads.

                                      19. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

                                        Narrated by a 9-year-old boy named Oskar, this 2005 novel borrows its sorrow from topical events. Young Oskar loses his father during the September 11 terrorist attack in 2001, an event that changes his life forever and leads him on an adventure through New York City. His story is touching and extraordinary.

                                        20. The Lovely Bones

                                          The Lovely Bones is sad for a lot of reasons. In one way, its main tragedy comes from the untimely death of a young girl at the hands of an elusive murderer. It’s also a story about a family struggling to come to grips with their loss and their obsession to avenge her.

                                          You may also want to read: 20 Most Magnificent Places to Read Books.

                                          Do you have any other recommendations for books that make you cry? Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

                                          More by this author

                                          Jon Negroni

                                          An author and blogger who shares about lifestyle advice

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                                          Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                                          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                          Feeling tired all the time?

                                          Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

                                          I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

                                          Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                                          If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                                          In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                                          What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                                          If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                                          Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                                          • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
                                          • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
                                          • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                                          • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
                                          • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                                          • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
                                          • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                                          Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

                                          Unfortunately, yes!

                                          Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

                                          Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

                                          Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

                                          Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

                                          Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                                          Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

                                          1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
                                          2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                                          3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                                          The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

                                          It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                                          Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                                          Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

                                          If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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                                          Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

                                          Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

                                          But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

                                          Symptoms of fatigue include:

                                          • Difficulty concentrating
                                          • Low stamina
                                          • Difficulty sleeping
                                          • Anxiety
                                          • Low motivation

                                          These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                                          Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                                          How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                                          The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                                          Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                                          So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

                                          The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                                          Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                                          Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

                                          If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

                                          And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                                          It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

                                          4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                                          Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                                          1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                                          2. Exercising regularly
                                          3. Using stressbusters
                                          4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                                          So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

                                          After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                                          In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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                                          I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                                          Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                                          • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
                                          • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
                                          • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                                          • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                                          The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

                                          And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

                                          But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

                                          L — Living Healthy

                                          Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

                                          So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

                                          In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

                                          As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                                          Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                                          1. Unplug

                                          Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

                                          So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                                          2. Unwind

                                          Do something to relax.

                                          Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

                                          3. Get Comfortable

                                          Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                                          Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

                                          Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                                          Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

                                          If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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                                          Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

                                          This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                                          E — Exercise

                                          Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                                          That’s what happened in my case.

                                          But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

                                          As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

                                          My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

                                          That made sense to me.

                                          So, I decided to swim.

                                          I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

                                          Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

                                          Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

                                          So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

                                          If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                                          A — Attitude

                                          Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                                          When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

                                          Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

                                          Breathing.

                                          But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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                                          Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

                                          1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
                                          2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
                                          3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
                                          4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
                                          5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
                                          6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

                                          This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                                          When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

                                          Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

                                          N — Nutrition

                                          Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                                          If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

                                          Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

                                          For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                                          Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

                                          Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                                          1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                                          2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
                                          3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
                                          4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
                                          5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                                          6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
                                          7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
                                          8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
                                          9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

                                          Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                                          That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                                          Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

                                          If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

                                          If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

                                          • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
                                          • Regular Exercise You Love
                                          • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
                                          • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

                                          Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                                          More Tips to Help You Rest Better

                                          Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                                          [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                                          [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                                          [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                                          [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                                          [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                                          [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                                          [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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