I like to think I have a pretty tough skin, but that philosophy has been questioned over and over again by the books on this list. Every book shared below is one that had a significant impact on my emotions and I know I’m not alone! We’ve all been there. Sometimes a book is just too good, the author too talented. It results in only one thing: you blubbering into a box of tissues. There, there my friend! Now and again, you need a good cry. What better way to get there than through the pages of a good book?
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Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
This may be a psychological thriller with intrigue, mystery, and mayhem, but the way Dennis Lehane tackles mental health among the characters really affected me. I was fine one minute, the next in a mountain of tears and tissues, curled up in bed, unable to read another page. The reality of those emotions just hit me. As a result, Shutter Island is a book I find myself recommending again and again (especially if you haven’t yet seen the movie).
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This novel is true masterpiece. It deserves to be held in high regard as a modern classic, one that is sure to stand the test of time, yet I always recommend it with a warning: this is not an easy book to read. It is long. It is complex. It is difficult to get through, not just for its complexities, but for its subject matter. Reading A Little Life is like running a marathon. At some point during the race, maybe many points, you’re going to have questions. Can I do this? Why did I do this? How can I possibly reach the end? But when that finish line comes into view you are blown away. When I read this work I found myself sobbing uncontrollably into the book itself. There is a legitimate tear stain on page 722 in my copy of this book, evidence that I was there on an incredible journey that, though it is fictional, felt no less real.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
It astounds me how few lists I see this book on and how few people I meet who recognize it. It deserves much more attention. Readers find it transformative, existential, and devastatingly human. This is a nonfiction work showcasing a collection of queries and responses from advice column Dear Sugar, once maintained by Wild author Cheryl Strayed.
You will read real submissions from real people, many of them in their darkest hour. These are people who are out of options, looking anywhere for help—yes, even from an advice column. Both questions and answers are poignant, moving, and unerringly relatable. You can’t help but feel every word is reaching into your very soul. Tiny Beautiful Things is a perfect read if you ever find yourself doing a bit of soul searching, or if you feel your life just needs a reset button.
What hooked me on this book was the first segment, which I found so stunningly gorgeous I wanted to read it aloud to my husband. I couldn’t get through three paragraphs without breaking down in tears. He had to read the rest for me.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
I thought I would be immune to this book, but I was wrong. I won’t outline the plot for you here, as it’s well known in both novel and film, but I will say that this story surpassed my expectations. While it didn’t have me sobbing into a pile of tissues like the previous recommendations, it did have me tearing up and blubbering here and there.
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
This read made my Best Fiction Books of 2018 list for a reason. Robert Dugoni is known for thrillers, but expanded his craft with this work in general fiction. Dugoni has an unquestionable gift for crafting characters. You can’t help but care for them, root for them, cheer them on. Whenever something unfortunate happens you find yourself invested in their future as if it was your own. That’s a powerful skill for any author to have, one Dugoni used well in this coming-of-age tale about a young boy with a rare condition. Sam Hell has startlingly red eyes and, due to his offputting looks, has trouble fitting in.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This classic novel has stood the test of time for a reason. It is comfort, it is homecoming, it is family. I am not the first reader to find tears springing to their cheeks when reading this story. This a book I’ve read again and again, yet it never fails to affect me. For years, you could not even utter the name Beth without my getting emotional. If you enjoy simple, sweet stories about family then this is a perfect classic for you.
Take the Literary Quiz! Which Little Women Character Are You? Click here to find out.
Til next time,
Bex Skoog (formerly Bex Gorsuch) is a Book Blogger and Instagram Influencer who strives to connect readers with their next favorite book and encourages avid bibliophiles to make use of the inspiration found in fiction by implementing story into their day-to-day lives.
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