Books The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written  

Ranker Books
Originally by
18.9k votes 2k voters 79.9k views 132 items

List Rules Vote up any good, very sad tearjerker books that make you cry.

This list is about the most heartbreaking novels ever written; it answers the question, “What are the saddest books of all time?” If you’ve ever read one of these tear-jerkers, you know that these sad stories will tug on your heart strings in a way that no other novel can.  The best sad stories like this will warm even the coldest of hearts! We’ve all felt the pain of loss, the agony of heartbreak and the joy of falling in love: we all relate to sad stories. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter provides us with a sense of empathy for an underdog, a woman that is forced to wear her sins on her sleeve for the world to see. Natalie Babbit’s Tuck Everlasting pulls on that secret place deep down in each of us that longs for love to never end, but teaches us that what seems like a blessing to us now may be a curse in the future. Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha shows us how life can be in another part of the world, moving us from our self-centered perspectives about life into a compassion for those less fortunate. These stories mold us into who we are and show us where we came from. Most importantly, these novels teach us that we’re not as different as we may think.

1
429 110
Where the Red Fern Grows is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

2
337 99
Flowers for Algernon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
carlybobarly added Flowers for Algernon Daniel Keyes

3
325 108
Bridge to Terabithia is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Bridge to Terabithia Donna Diamond, Katherine Paterson

4
348 89
Old Yeller is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Old Yeller Fred Gipson

5
380 104
Charlotte's Web is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Charlotte's Web E. B. White

6
438 103
Of Mice and Men is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

7
276 71
The Outsiders is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
but chickens double d added The Outsiders S. E. Hinton

8
422 113
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

9
173 47
Nineteen Eighty-Four is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
stubb added Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

10
273 70
Les Misérables is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Les Misérables Victor Hugo

11
268 78
A Child Called
A Child Called "It" Dave Pelzer

12
398 178
The Fault in Our Stars is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

13
317 85
The Book Thief is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
The Book Thief Markus Zusak

14
230 83
My Sister's Keeper is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
My Sister's Keeper Jodi Picoult

The Best Novels Ever Written

15
242 90
The Kite Runner is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini

16
318 142
Harry Potter and the Deathly H... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

17
163 53
Wuthering Heights is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
slaft added Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë

18
226 94
The Giver is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
The Giver Lois Lowry

19
119 60
Atonement is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Garvin added Atonement Ian McEwan

20
197 85
A Walk to Remember is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
A Walk to Remember Nicholas Sparks

21
118 38
The Little Prince is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
punksnotdead added The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Creepiest Shows on TV Right Now

22
189 62
Black Beauty is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Black Beauty Anna Sewell

23
165 75
The Help is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
CourtneyRoseSampson added The Help Kathryn Stockett

24
118 43
Great Expectations is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
slaft added Great Expectations Charles Dickens

25
146 64
Brave New World is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Brave New World Aldous Huxley

26
178 61
A Tale of Two Cities is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens

27
214 88
The Lovely Bones is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold

28
201 80
Marley & Me: Life and Love wit... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

29
102 24
The Velveteen Rabbit is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
The Velveteen Rabbit Margery Williams

30
102 46
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
rachel hatton added Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë

31
126 67
Island of the Blue Dolphins is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

32
101 27
Hamlet is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Hamlet William Shakespeare

33
126 70
Never Let Me Go is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

34
120 64
A Thousand Splendid Suns is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
BethSmoothMoveRothwell added A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

35
70 38
Uncle Tom's Cabin is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
slaft added Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Most Overrated Books of All Time

36
112 37
The Great Gatsby is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

37
142 60
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

38
103 33
Animal Farm is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Animal Farm George Orwell

39
150 97
Mockingjay is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
but chickens double d added Mockingjay Suzanne Collins

40
84 42
The Phantom of the Opera is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
slaft added The Phantom of the Opera Gaston Leroux

41
85 47
For Whom the Bell Tolls is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway

42
99 36
Lord of the Flies is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Lord of the Flies William Golding

The Best Rolling Stone Covers

43
189 104
The Notebook is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
The Notebook Nicholas Sparks

44
132 63
The Time Traveler's Wife is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
The Time Traveler's Wife Audrey Niffenegger

45
59 26
Tess of the d'Urbervilles is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
MarylyleMcCue added Tess of the d'Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

46
161 87
The Perks of Being a Wallflowe... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

47
160 118
The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
but chickens double d added The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

48
119 84
If I Stay is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
If I Stay Gayle Forman

49
135 72
Memoirs of a Geisha is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

50
116 60
Tuck Everlasting is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Tuck Everlasting Natalie Babbitt