Are you in the market for a fantastic, well-written book that will make you cry?
If so, you’re in the right place!
I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of emotional books. I love a good tearjerker and I’ve searched far and wide to find the best books to get you in your feels.
These five books have made me a bit of an emotional wreck during and after reading, and many of them are actually ones I’ve re-read. Because there’s truly nothing better than willingly putting yourself through pain.
If you’re like me and love a good, healthy cry every now and then, keep reading to find out which books will emotionally destroy you, in the very best way possible.
5 Books That Will Emotionally Destroy You (In The Best Way)
1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
If I didn’t start this list with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I’d feel like a phony.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a historical fiction about a woman who moves to Hollywood to become a film star in the golden age of the 1950s. In present day, the legendary Evelyn Hugo recounts her life in the limelight, and the seven infamous marriages that dotted her career, to a budding journalist.
This book literally will send you through a rollercoaster of emotions. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a phenomenally talented author and I highly recommend checking out her other novels. However, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo stands out in a league of its own.
The characters, especially Evelyn, are incredibly complex and the events of the story play out like a real-life biography. By the end of the story, you truly feel connected to these characters, feeling their joys and heartaches as if they are your own.
2. The Invisible. Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
If you’re looking for a book that will give you a micro-dosage of existential dread in each chapter, then this is the book for you! I loved The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue so much that I even wrote a review about it, which you can find here.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue follows an exceptional woman named Addie who makes a deal with a god of the night to live freely, forever. The caveat of her bargain? She will never be remembered by anyone she meets. Centuries later, in the 2010s, Addie encounters a man named Henry that changes the course of her life forever.
In its most basic form, a book about a woman who is immortal but is destined to be alone for eternity is deeply depressing. However, V.E. Schwab effectively creates a story filled with humanity and hope, in spite of the dark subject matter.
As Addie touches the lives of many throughout her journeys—and multiple lifetimes—it’s hard not to be affected. Her loneliness jumps off the pages and feels utterly palpable.
Enter Henry, the softest bean ever… And you’ve got a heartbreaking story of loss, love, and the importance of human connection.
3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
For years before reading it, I heard people rave about The Song of Achilles. While I enjoyed Madeline Miller’s sophomore novel, Circe, it was The Song of Achilles that eventually roped me into her exquisite—and devastating—writing.
The Song of Achilles is a retelling of the story of Achilles and Patroclus. Told from the perspective of Patroclus, the story traverses his own childhood, and up to and beyond his initial encounter with Achilles. Over the course of the novel, their story progresses, weaving within and without the story we know.
There’s a good reason this book has a 4.40 rating on Goodreads and a strong, loyal base of fans who will go to war to defend it at all costs. If you haven’t read The Song of Achilles, there’s a good chance that at least one person in your life has begged you to by now.
While you may expect the story to be predictable, with its source material being so widely known, it packs a few punches that make it feel fresh and original. Aside from its tragedies, the LGBTQ+ romance is the real tearjerker here. My heart was on a vicious cycle of swoon, break, repeat for all of the near-400 pages.
4. Lovely War by Julie Berry
Maybe you’ve always thought that war novels just aren’t your cup of tea. And that’s totally valid! But I have to challenge you just a tiny bit with this out-of-the-ordinary novel that transcends the genre.
Lovely War tells the story of those touched by the Great War, with a twist. When four young people—a pianist, an aspiring architect, a Black musician, and a Belgian chanteuse—enter the war, they come out the other end utterly changed. Their stories are told by Aphrodite, goddess of love, who makes the case for the power of love to her husband, Hephaestus, in a hotel room.
As a history major, I’ve always had a partiality for historical fiction. While I’ve read a lot of war novels (and I do mean a lot), Lovely War sticks out to me as being so special.
As you would expect with the subject matter, Lovely War is hardly a “lovely” story. The themes of this novel, intertwined with the character-driven story and historical context of the war, make for an engrossing but heartbreaking read.
Pack the tissues for this one, folks! It’ll hurt but it’ll be so worth it.
5. In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
If you’re looking for a book that hits a bit more close to home, in that it feels a bit more authentic compared to the other entries on this list, then you’ll want to pick up In Five Years by Rebecca Serle.
Although it has a bit of an “unnatural” twist, it pulls upon events that show just how quickly life can change—and not always in the best way.
In Five Years follows Dannie, a Type-A woman working as a lawyer in New York City. After nailing a big job interview and getting engaged to her boyfriend, Dannie is thrilled that her life is following her carefully structured plan. But when she wakes up the next morning, it’s five years in the future… and everything is different.
When I first read this book in 2020, I was that girl who always had a plan. If you asked me where I saw myself in ten years, I could tell you right down to the date when I planned to be engaged, married, get my first job, have my first kid… Everything was planned.
Until the pandemic hit. And all of a sudden, my careful plans crumbled. Don’t worry, it was for the best! But this book really helped me get through it.
While Dannie’s story is not easy, and often it is actually very heartbreaking, it shows the fragility of life and how important it is to not let yourself spend more time planning your life than actually living it.
None of us know what tomorrow brings. And we should all live in the “now”.
What book do you pick up whenever you need a good cry? Let me know in the comments!