I am an anxious person.
Anyone who deals with anxiety knows that the best way to not be anxious is to AVOID ALL THE THINGS.
Anyone who deals with anxiety in this way also knows that this does not make for the most exciting life.
At some point we all come to realise that we will not die of anxiety (or whatever the thing was that we were anxious about. As it turns out, not being able to see into the future is a normal human thing rather than an indicator of impending demise).
I bring all this up because being an anxious person also makes you the sort of person who is really really good at hiding from your own feelings. That’s why, for me at least, when someone tells me a book is sad and I say yeah I’ll totally read that I am LYING.
So when I read a sad book it’s usually by accident. Or because John Green wrote it.
Whenever I read sad books, once I’ve gotten over the initial heartbreak and post-cry head ache, I always think: I feel so alive right now. And then I tell everyone in my immediate vicinity that I LOVE THEM SO MUCH OMG.
Sometimes it’s good to break your heart a bit to remind yourself that you one.
Here are some books that will break you.
The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
Was the most obvious choice I could have made? Yes. I don’t care.
TFIOS is a book about dying teenagers. And falling in love. It’s a heart breaking combination.
Sometimes when I read this I’m like LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL as I weep. Other times I’m like LIFE IS FUTILE.
It really depends on the day.
Suffice to say I totally did not think through the implications of the title of this book.
It’s about two girls, Grace and Tippi, who are conjoined twins. It raises questions about what individuality even is. And then it shatters your heart into a thousand pieces.
We Were Liars – E. Lockhart
I have mentioned a few times before that I am terrified of flying. I really want to travel, and almost all the places that I want to go will require me to get on a plane. Even though I have no money and therefore can currently go nowhere, I keep waking up at 3am freaking out about planes.
I read this book in an airport in Barcelona a couple summers ago. My friend and I had arrived several hours early because preparedness and because my friend thought that it would have some great duty free shopping. It did not. As a result I had to spend many hours in an airport watching planes take off.
This did nothing to soothe my anxieties.
So, it’s impressive that, by the time I got on the plane, I felt worse about the events in We Were Liars (which I had finished during the aforementioned hours of waiting) than I did about all the plane-related worst case scenarios that I was playing in my head.
A lot of books are described as ‘unforgettable’ when in reality actually aren’t. This one kind of is. You don’t forget that sort of trauma in a hurry.
A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
Anyone who ever read about Manchee the dog knows that Patrick Ness is an expert in emotional torture.
Honestly I think he derives some sick sort of joy out of the process of chipping away at the existing cracks in our hard working hearts.
The instrument of torture in this story is Conor, who comes to terms with his mother’s terminal cancer through having visions of a terrifying monster.
What makes it even sadder is that it’s based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd, a wonderful YA author who herself died of cancer before being able to write the book.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
Oskar’s dad died in 9/11.
Oskar had to kind of dad who liked to send him on Reconnaissance Expeditions. Oskar loved to solve his dad’s cleverly woven mysteries.
A couple years after his death, Oskar finds a key. To Oskar, this was the Reconnaissance Expedition his father left behind. He makes it his mission to discover which lock in New York the key opens.
There is something uniquely heart wrenching in reading tragedy from the point of view of a child. Between the lines you read all the things in Oskar’s life that he isn’t yet old enough to understand. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a book about a boy learning to navigate a wound that will never truly heal.
I actually read this years ago but it’s one of those stories that’s stuck with me. Writing this has made me realise it’s time to reread it.
What was the last book you read that made you weep like a baby?
6 thoughts on “Books That Broke Me”
Haha, I love this “because John Green wrote it”. We are alike in many ways, ahah, and I’m so anxious too. I love the choices you made, and I would love to read One, and A Monster Calls, even if I know I will cry like a baby, probably. I get your anxiety about planes, I have the same one, it’s awful…I hate it, but, travel. I need to travel, too.
I think the last book I read that made me cry was Isla and the happily ever after, mainly because I’m just one huge marshmallow. But I’m currently reading The Sky Is Everywhere, and it’s tugging at my heartstrings since the beginning, I feel liike I’m going to cry every two pages because it makes me emotional, hahaha
These are all excellent choices. The Fault in Our Stars and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close broke me as well. I’m not afraid to weep (in private..) and good books have that effect on me. A book makes me cry every few months.
Ohh Lydia, so many good choices! Even though I cry over anything and everything, I cry more with movies and TV shows than I do with books (maybe because I can see facial expressions and empathize with them stronger? Idk I always find a way haha).
Though in saying that, I cried in A Monster Calls, TFiOS, Knife of Never Letting Go, and The Winner’s Kiss (though it was more feels cry than sadness). Oh, and The Book Thief (ughhhh)!
Great post! We Were Liars also made me so emotional! Love that book!
All of the books that you mentioned made me ugly-cry like crazy during and afterwards! They were all such fantastic books that had me completely immersed and then tore my heart out and then shredded it! One was just the most heartbreaking book ever, and I didn’t expect what happened to actually happen. I remember crying for ages afterwards. I haven’t read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close yet but I’ve wanted to ever since the movie came out (haven’t seen it either). I’m just struggling to choose which edition of the book I want to buy… and I keep putting it off because of that. The edition in your photo is beautiful though!
Omg One DESTROYED me! I was just sitting crying in my room for ages after while I tried to process everything that I’d read. I think the fact that you can pretty easily read it in one of two sittings makes the whole thing worse.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is so good! I really love books with difficult themes that come from the point of view of a child. They are unreliable narrators without even knowing it.