Sometimes I just need a good cry. You know, the kind of ugly crying where you can’t really breathe and you start hiccupping and you can no longer differentiate snot from tears. It’s cathartic, I swear. Nothing gets my waterworks going like heart-wrenching (but not sappy) books with doomed characters or hopeless situations. Have tissues at the ready, readers, because these 11 books will make you cry (in a good way).
I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I cried for 700 pages of this 832-page masterpiece. I have never loved a character more deeply than I love Jude, the main character in this ode to male friendship, who is scarred and broken from an unspeakable trauma. Reading about Jude’s ever-changing relationships with his three best friends from college was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a reader—and certainly as a crier.
Will Traynor is an attractive but brooding young man grieving the life he lived before the terrible accident that left him paralyzed. Louisa Clark is the quirky and charming young woman that Will’s parents hire to cheer him up and remind him that life is worth living. You will fall as hard and deeply in love with Will as Louisa does.
A profoundly moving and exquisitely written memoir by a 36-year-old neurosurgeon dying of lung cancer, WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR chronicles Paul Kalanithi’s transformation from naive medical student to renowned neurosurgeon to patient. It’s impossible not to tear up as Kalanithi honestly and directly questions what makes life worth living as a doctor, as a dad, and as a person.
Lily Owens’s life is shaped around the blurry memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. Tired of life with her punitive father and unanswered questions, Lily journeys down South to find the town that holds the secret to her mother’s troubled past. She ends up finding so much more in a trio of three black beekeepers, but she also learns the devastating truth about her past. I needed a wailing wall (the stone wall one of the beekeepers uses to grieve) of my own while reading this book.
MILK AND HONEY is a collection of poetry and prose grounded in the everyday experiences of women and bears witness to both the beautiful and the brutal sides womanhood. Every word feels genuine and evokes such strong feeling. I sobbed on the subway reading this collection for the first time.