The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

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.
Ranked by
  • Of Mice and Men
    John Steinbeck
    850 votes
    • First Published: 1937
    • Subjects: California, Drama
    • Genres (Book): Novella
    • Original Language: English Language
    Of Mice and Men is a novella written by Nobel Prize–winning author John Steinbeck. Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who ...more
  • The Book Thief
    Markus Zusak
    626 votes
    • First Published: 2006-03
    • Subjects: Storytelling, Death, History, Germany
    • Genres (Book): Historical fiction, Fiction, Young adult literature, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language, German Language
    The Book Thief is a novel by Australian author Markus Zusak. First published in 2005, the book has won numerous awards and was listed on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks.
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
    812 votes
    • First Published: 1961
    • Subjects: Literature, Linguistics, Adolescence, Classics, Adventure
    • Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
    Where the Red Fern Grows is a 1961 children's novel by Wilson Rawls about a boy who buys and trains two Redbone Coonhound hunting dogs.
  • Flowers for Algernon
    663 votes
    • First Published: 1959
    • Subjects: Literary, American science fiction, Mental retardation, Young adult, Surgery
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel, Science Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
    Flowers for Algernon is a science fiction short story and subsequent novel written by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of ...more