In Need of a Good Cry? 8 Emotional Books That Made Me Really Feel

Grab some tissues before diving into these reads.

There’s nothing like a good cry to wipe the slate clean and regroup. I actually look forward to diving into sad books — and movies — that bring tears to my eyes and make me really feel. A sad story, whether true or not, can center you and help you get in touch with feelings you never knew you had or feelings that have been buried. It can help you come to terms with your own pain or simply put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Some people can read sad book after sad book, others need one every now and then for a good ugly cry. Whatever the cadence, emotional reads can be essential to healing and feeling human. If you need a good cry, below are a few books that made me cry. Grab some Kleenex and dive in. 

Not enough tears for you? Listen to this Spotify playlist with the authors below talking about their books on my podcast.

Sad Books That Will Make You Cry

When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister

This book starts on 9/11 when Gigi flees lower Manhattan to Staten Island, running into a British acquaintance who she brings home with her, only to find out her brother hasn’t survived the attacks. Ten years later, she and the Brit reunite, fall in love and have a child. But loss and trauma never truly leave them alone in this beautifully written tale of anguish, resilience, love, and motherhood. 

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

A mother’s love knows no bounds in this heartbreaking travel tale about a duo mired in grief after a Mexican cartel massacres their entire family. They must ride the Bestia train and traverse their home country to find freedom in another land. Poignant, gripping, and masterfully written, American Dirt puts everyone in the shoes of a migrant fleeing for their life in a way that will haunt and teach them forever.

No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler

When I read a passage from Kate Bowler’s book out loud to Bowler herself on my podcast, even she cried. This emotional true story about a young mother with cancer shows the reader exactly what it’s like to be sick, especially in today’s world, what it means to fear losing yourself and leaving behind your little one, and how to find meaning in all of it. 

A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes by Rodrigo Garcia

I didn’t cry until the final scene of this slim, elegant memoir by the son of literary icon Gabriel García Márquez about how he and his family coped with his larger-than-life father’s death — and then his mother’s. An elegy, a tribute, a reminiscence, this book will hit home for many of us. 

Pony by R.J. Palacio

The author of Wonder writes an immersive story about a boy who goes in search of his father and finds others on the path to reconciliation. Themes of loss swirl constantly through the historical novel, especially that sense of fear of a lifelong separation. 

Future Widow by Jenny Lisk

Jenny Lisk’s husband doesn’t make sense anymore and she can’t ignore it another minute. Thus begins her medical odyssey, which results in her young husband’s tragic death. And yet, Lisk uses her pain to help others in this conversational, accessible memoir. 

The Great Peace by Mena Suvari

I cried for Mena Suvari when reading her book. For the sexual abuse she endured. The pain. The loneliness. The unfairness. All of it. Yes, she’s a movie star. But it doesn’t matter what your job is when you’re emotionally degraded and maltreated. I’m just so glad she comes out the other end stronger and empowered, showing us the poet she is with her words and actions. 

Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad

Suleika Jaouad is in her 20s when she gets her cancer diagnosis and takes us through the limbo in which she lives while she battles her body, befriends fellow travelers along pain’s path, and ultimately survives to travel, thank supporters, and trust again.