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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.

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                                          Jon Negroni

                                          An author and blogger who shares about lifestyle advice

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                                          Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                                          The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                          The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                          Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                                          your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                                            Why You Need a Vision

                                            Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                                            How to Create Your Life Vision

                                            Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                                            What Do You Want?

                                            The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                                            It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                                            Some tips to guide you:

                                            • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                                            • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                                            • Give yourself permission to dream.
                                            • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                                            • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                                            Some questions to start your exploration:

                                            • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                                            • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                                            • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                                            • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                                            • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                                            • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                                            • What qualities would you like to develop?
                                            • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                                            • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                                            • What would you most like to accomplish?
                                            • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                                            It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                                            What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                                            Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                                            A few prompts to get you started:

                                            • What will you have accomplished already?
                                            • How will you feel about yourself?
                                            • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                                            • What does your ideal day look like?
                                            • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                                            • What would you be doing?
                                            • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                                            • How are you dressed?
                                            • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                                            • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                                            • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                                            It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                                            Plan Backwards

                                            It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                                            • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                                            • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                                            • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                                            • What important actions would you have had to take?
                                            • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                                            • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                                            • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                                            • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                                            • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                                            Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                                            It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                                            Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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