Books The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written  

Ranker Books
Originally by
19.4k votes 2.1k voters 81.1k views 134 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.
list ordered by

1
441 115
Where the Red Fern Grows is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

2
339 112
Bridge to Terabithia is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Donna Diamond, Katherine Paterson

3
348 102
Flowers for Algernon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
carlybobarly added Daniel Keyes

4
354 91
Old Yeller is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Fred Gipson

5
391 111
Charlotte's Web is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
E. B. White

6
453 106
Of Mice and Men is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
John Steinbeck

7
437 118
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

8
279 73
Les Misérables is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Victor Hugo

9
285 76
The Outsiders is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
but chickens double d added S. E. Hinton

10
181 51
Nineteen Eighty-Four is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
stubb added George Orwell

11
327 89
The Book Thief is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Markus Zusak

12
273 82
A Child Called
Dave Pelzer

13
411 182
The Fault in Our Stars is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

14
333 147
Harry Potter and the Deathly H... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

15
231 97
The Giver is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Lois Lowry

16
240 84
My Sister's Keeper is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Jodi Picoult

17
249 93
The Kite Runner is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Khaled Hosseini

18
196 63
Black Beauty is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Anna Sewell

19
209 82
Marley & Me: Life and Love wit... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

20
122 44
The Little Prince is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
punksnotdead added Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

21
165 58
Wuthering Heights is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
slaft added Emily Brontë

22
123 62
Atonement is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Garvin added Ian McEwan

23
200 87
A Walk to Remember is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Nicholas Sparks

24
151 66
Brave New World is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Aldous Huxley

25
183 62
A Tale of Two Cities is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Charles Dickens

26
120 45
Great Expectations is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
slaft added Charles Dickens

27
166 79
The Help is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
CourtneyRoseSampson added Kathryn Stockett

28
219 90
The Lovely Bones is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Alice Sebold

29
110 25
The Velveteen Rabbit is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Margery Williams

30
106 27
Hamlet is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
William Shakespeare

31
106 48
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
rachel hatton added Charlotte Brontë

32
131 70
Island of the Blue Dolphins is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

33
125 65
A Thousand Splendid Suns is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
BethSmoothMoveRothwell added Khaled Hosseini

34
128 73
Never Let Me Go is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Kazuo Ishiguro

35
71 38
Uncle Tom's Cabin is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
slaft added Harriet Beecher Stowe

36
117 40
The Great Gatsby is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
F. Scott Fitzgerald

37
107 35
Animal Farm is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
George Orwell

38
145 63
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Leo Tolstoy

39
90 44
The Phantom of the Opera is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
slaft added Gaston Leroux

40
155 102
Mockingjay is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
but chickens double d added Suzanne Collins

41
86 47
For Whom the Bell Tolls is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Ernest Hemingway

42
192 107
The Notebook is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Nicholas Sparks

43
103 40
Lord of the Flies is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
William Golding

44
167 90
The Perks of Being a Wallflowe... is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

45
133 66
The Time Traveler's Wife is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Audrey Niffenegger

46
59 27
Tess of the d'Urbervilles is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
MarylyleMcCue added Thomas Hardy

47
120 85
If I Stay is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Gayle Forman

48
163 125
The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
but chickens double d added Suzanne Collins

49
136 75
Memoirs of a Geisha is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Arthur Golden

50
116 61
Tuck Everlasting is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written
Natalie Babbitt