In a world where stories are often used as a means of escape, there is a unique subset of books that aim to tug at our heartstrings, evoke deep emotions, and sometimes, lead us to shed those big, ugly tears. For those who cherish a good cry brought on by a poignant narrative, 2024 offers a selection of books that promise just that. This curated list is designed for readers who seek not just entertainment but a profound emotional experience. The best books to read in 2024 that will make you big ugly tears will leave you with a sense of catharsis, reminding you of the power of the written word.

Why We Love Tear-Jerking Books

There’s something uniquely cathartic about a book that can make you cry. Whether it’s the intricate storytelling, the deeply relatable characters, or the raw depiction of human emotions, these books offer a release like no other. Crying over a book can be a therapeutic experience, helping you process your own emotions through the lives of the characters. It’s this profound connection that keeps readers coming back for more, year after year.

The Therapeutic Power of Emotional Reads

Reading books that make you cry isn’t just about seeking out sad stories. It’s about finding narratives that resonate with you on a deeply personal level. These stories often explore themes of love, loss, friendship, and personal growth. They allow us to see parts of ourselves in the characters and their journeys, making the experience all the more impactful. In 2024, the best books to read that will make you big ugly tears are those that offer not just a story, but an emotional journey that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Top Picks for 2024: Books That Will Make You Cry

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns book cover

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Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns is a powerful novel that follows the lives of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila. Set against the backdrop of war-torn Afghanistan from the 1970s to the early 2000s, the story explores themes of resilience, friendship, and the enduring strength of the human spirit in the face of hardship.

Mariam, an illegitimate child, experiences a life of isolation and hardship from a young age. Laila, on the other hand, enjoys a relatively peaceful childhood until war disrupts her world.

Their paths eventually collide, and an unlikely bond forms as they navigate the complexities of life under oppressive regimes. Through their stories, Hosseini paints a vivid portrait of Afghan society and the impact of war on women’s lives.

Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah plunges you into World War II France.

Nightingale by Kristin Hannah book cover

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We meet two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who are as different as night and day.

Vianne, the elder, is practical and fiercely protective of her family. Isabelle, the younger sister, is impulsive and yearns for adventure. Their lives are upended when the Nazis occupy their French town.

The story follows how these sisters navigate the dangers and complexities of war, testing the bonds of family and their own inner strength.

Under the Whispering Door

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune is a heartwarming fantasy novel that explores themes of life, death, love, and acceptance.

The story follows Wallace Price, a grumpy and isolated man who dies

Under the Whispering Door book cover

Source: Amazon

unexpectedly. Instead of immediately moving on to the afterlife, he finds

himself in a charming teashop run by Hugo, a gentle and kind ferryman who helps souls cross over.

Wallace is resistant to letting go of his life, but Hugo patiently guides him through the process, introducing him to the wonders of the teashop and the quirky residents of the village. As Wallace spends time with Hugo and the others, he begins to confront his regrets and discovers a capacity for love and connection he never knew he possessed.

Under the Whispering Door is a delightful and moving story that will stay with you long after you finish reading it. It’s a perfect read for anyone who enjoys heartwarming fiction with a touch of magic.

Where The Red Fern Grows by Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls is a coming-of-age story set in the rugged beauty of the Ozark Mountains. It follows the journey of a young boy named Billy Colman and his unwavering determination to own and train a pair of Redbone Coonhounds. Billy dreams of becoming a skilled hunter alongside his canine companions, and his unwavering dedication leads him to save up for two years to buy the prized pups he names Little Ann and Old Dan.

Where The Red Fern Grows by Rawls book cover

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The novel chronicles Billy’s adventures as he trains his loyal hounds in the art of hunting raccoons. The bond between boy and dogs deepens as they navigate the challenges and triumphs of the hunt, forging a friendship built on trust and mutual respect. The story paints a vivid picture of life in the Ozarks, highlighting the close connection between humans and nature in this remote and beautiful setting.

However, Where the Red Fern Grows is not simply a lighthearted tale of hunting and adventure. The narrative explores themes of perseverance, loss, and the deep emotional connection between humans and animals. While the specific details of the sadness remain shrouded to avoid spoilers, the novel doesn’t shy away from the realities of life and the challenges that come with forging strong bonds.

Prepare for a story that will touch your heart, reminding you of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the bittersweet lessons learned on the path to adulthood. Where the Red Fern Grows is a timeless classic that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

Angela's Ashes book cover

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Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes is a poignant memoir that delves into the author’s tumultuous childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Published in 1996, the book quickly garnered critical acclaim for its unflinching portrayal of poverty, hardship, and the resilience of the human spirit.

The story opens with a now-adult Frank reflecting on his early life, wryly acknowledging the absurdity of a “miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” We are then transported back to the 1930s, where a young Frank grapples with a life defined by his family’s struggles. His father, Malachy, battles alcoholism and unemployment, leaving the burden of financial responsibility on his weary mother, Angela. The McCourt family lurches from one cramped, cold hovel to another, constantly facing eviction and the pangs of hunger.

Despite the bleak circumstances, Angela’s Ashes is not simply a chronicle of despair. McCourt injects his narrative with a surprising dose of humor, finding moments of joy and camaraderie even amidst the hardship. He celebrates the power of storytelling, the unwavering love between siblings, and the small victories that punctuate a life defined by struggle. This bittersweet blend of humor and hardship is what makes Angela’s Ashes a powerful and unforgettable read.

The Green Mile

The Green Mile book cover

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Stephen King’s “The Green Mile” isn’t your typical horror story, though it does carry the weight of sadness. Set on death row, nicknamed “The Green Mile” for its linoleum floor, the story unfolds through the eyes of Paul Edgecomb, a corrections officer. Paul’s world is one of routine and grim reality, overseeing the execution of convicted criminals. However, everything changes with the arrival of John Coffey, a towering man with childlike innocence accused of a horrific crime.

John Coffey possesses an unsettling calmness and an almost supernatural gentleness. Despite his imposing size, he exhibits a kindness that disrupts the cynicism that often permeates death row. Paul and his fellow officers witness extraordinary events that challenge their understanding of the world and force them to confront their own sense of justice. As John’s fate hangs in the balance, an unlikely bond forms between the guards and the condemned man, raising profound questions about life, death, and the true nature of good and evil.

“The Green Mile” is a deeply moving story that explores themes of compassion, redemption, and the weight of a life taken. While the setting and subject matter might suggest a bleak narrative, the story’s heart lies in the unexpected connections forged in the face of tragedy. Prepare for a journey that will challenge your preconceptions and leave you pondering the complexities of human nature.

Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon book cover

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Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” is a thought-provoking science fiction novel that explores the ethical and emotional complexities surrounding human intelligence. The story centers on Charlie Gordon, a kind-hearted but intellectually disabled man who works as a janitor at a bakery. Presented with an opportunity to undergo a groundbreaking experimental surgery that could significantly increase his intelligence, Charlie eagerly embarks on a journey that alters his life in unforeseen ways.

As Charlie’s intelligence rapidly expands, his world explodes with knowledge and experiences he never dreamed possible. He devours books, engages in stimulating conversations, and even surpasses his former colleagues in intellectual ability. However, this newfound brilliance comes at a cost. Charlie grapples with feelings of isolation as he realizes the vast gulf between his new intellect and the people he once cherished. He witnesses firsthand the prejudices held against those with intellectual disabilities and experiences a profound sense of loss for the simpler, more carefree life he once knew.

“Flowers for Algernon” is a deeply moving story that transcends the science fiction genre. It delves into themes of identity, belonging, and the societal perception of intelligence. While the ending carries a tinge of sadness, it is a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit and our capacity for love, compassion, and connection regardless of intellectual limitations.

All The Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See book cover

Source: Amazon

Anthony Doerr’s “All The Light We Cannot See” is a hauntingly beautiful novel that weaves together the stories of two unforgettable characters during World War II. Set against the backdrop of a world engulfed in darkness, the narrative follows Marie-Laure, a blind Parisian girl, and Werner, a gifted young German boy whose circumstances force him into the Hitler Youth.

Marie-Laure possesses a remarkable memory and a deep love for literature. When the Nazis occupy Paris, she and her father flee the city, carrying a precious, hidden object that holds immense significance. Meanwhile, Werner, burdened by his conscience and yearning for knowledge, finds himself caught up in the machinery of war. Their paths, though seemingly unconnected, are set on a collision course that will alter their destinies forever.

“All The Light We Cannot See” is a testament to the enduring power of hope and humanity in the face of unimaginable adversity. Doerr masterfully explores themes of resilience, courage, and the importance of connection in a world teetering on the brink of collapse. While the historical context and the characters’ struggles hint at a poignant story, the true beauty of the novel lies in its exploration of the human spirit’s ability to find light even in the darkest of times.

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Last Update: June 3, 2024