Books to Break Your Heart

It’s Top Ten Tuesday time!  This week: Top Ten Books That Broke My Heart A Little.  Enjoy my list, then click on over to the Broke and the Bookish to read theirs, as well as the lists of many other great bloggers.

This is supposed to be, as the name “Top Ten Tuesday” suggests, a list of ten books.  But after thinking of eight books that made me cry, I was sort of done.  Don’t get me wrong: I love these books.  If you need a good cry, give one a try:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: This is a rather tongue-in-cheek choice, but it is the first book that came to mind, so that counts for something, right?  Mary’s rehabilitation / personal growth / transformation is mostly because of Dickon, the Yorkshire lad who talks to animals and knows all about plants.  Same for the rehabilitation / transformation of Mary’s cousin Colin.  As soon as Mary and Colin are up to snuff, Dickon fades out of the story so we can focus on the Future of the Manor. Poor Dickon.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine PatersonI mean, obviously.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt: I know Winnie makes the right call, but my eleven-year-old self was crushed that she didn’t choose eternal youth with her first love.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Why?  Why, oh why, couldn’t Rhett forgive Scarlett?  She loved him!  She loved him so much and just didn’t realize it!  She called for him when she was delirious, but no one realized!  Oh my goodness, why can’t they make it work in the end?  It’s so, so, so sad! (Pro Tip: Comment brought to you by twelve-year-old me.)

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton: Oh, how I loved this book in college.  Oh, how I wept for Lily Bart.  Sure, she makes bad choices, but she still manages to be less infuriating (and more sympathetic) than many a Wharton heroine.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: Years before I read the book, I saw the movie and cried about the missed opportunity for love between Stevens the butler and Miss Kenton the housekeeper.  The book broke my heart because of all the things Stevens missed in his life of service.  Heartbreak aside (or included), one of my very favorite books.

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore: So much loneliness.  So much self-deception.  So much sadness.  But, really, one of my favorite books in college!

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett: I don’t want to be spoilery, because if you haven’t read this you really should, and I was surprised to have my heartbroken.  So, try to be surprised, too.

Your turn: What are the books that break your heart?  Or, if you’re feeling sunnier, the books that make your heart sing?



Filed under Book Report

26 responses to “Books to Break Your Heart

  1. Gone with the Wind was so heartbreaking. After all of Scarlett and Rhett’s hard work they still couldn’t be together in the end. After I finishing reading it I was a little stunned that it could actually end that way. I just couldn’t believe it.


  2. Bridge to Terabithia is on my list too!
    What books made my heart sing…? I don’t know! Good catch.


  3. Bridge to Terabithia how could I forget about that book? Gone With the Wind made my list too. It’s just so sad.

    Great list! I’ll have to check out the ones I didn’t read.

    My Teaser Tuesday/Top Ten Tuesday post is here

    Happy reading!

    ~Danica Page
    Taking It One Page at a Time


  4. Jane

    Stone Fox, by John Reynolds Gardiner. Just reading the summary on Wikipedia brings me to tears. As a 7 year old, I was inconsolable, as was the whole class. And perhaps “Of Mice and Men”. Neither deal with romantic love, but still are tearjerkers.


    • Jane, one look at the cover of Stone Fox is enough for me. Sad animal books are the worst.

      Of Mice and Men is a good one! That Steinbeck knew how to tug the heartstrings.


  5. kara

    The first book I remember making me cry was “Where the Red Fern Grows” I was up late at night to finish it and just cried and cried. Recently it was “Sarah’s Key” and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” both good but sad. Either of them evoked as much emotion though as “Where the Red Fern Grows”


  6. As a self-proclaimed prolific reader what I’m about to say should be embarrassing, but I’m going to say it anyway: I’ve only read one of the books on this list. (That would be “The Secret Garden,” just so you know.)

    I never got around to reading Mitchell (but now I’m considering it!) and Ishiguro’s writing remains a mystery to me (I pick him up, and I put him down again. Why?), and the rest? I don’t know?

    Hmmmm. It looks as though my library list for the month is going to be a little longer than usual.

    What book(s) break my heart? When it comes to reading, I’m tough to crack, but if you do, well…. Three of the top of my head would be Anne Carson’s “Autobiography of Red,” which is a novel set in poetic form. (You wouldn’t think it would work, but boy howdy, does it!) And the beauty of the prose in both “Girl Interrupted” and “The Virgin Suicides” (Kaysen and Eugenides, respectively) breaks my heart because the language alone is worth the ride.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours, Maggie! Thanks for this wonderful book posting today! It’s like a valentine for readers!


    • Well, you’d better get cracking! I know what you mean about Ishiguro. I love him, but I can definitely see that he is not for everyone. Remains of the Day is definitely my favorite. And then maybe . . . When We Were Orphans? I know that last place goes to The Unconsoled. So, you know, feel free to skip that one twice.

      I had The Virgin Suicides from the library but had to return it before I got to read it. I loved Middlesex, so I will have to get it again. I haven’t read the others, so my library list gets longer, too.

      Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too! We were very quiet and cozy. And we ate chocolate. I hope you had a lovely time, too.


  7. There’s a few on here I haven’t read, so yeah!!! New books!

    And I don’t know how I could have looked over Bridge to Terabithia. Seriously indeed. That death at the end was pointless.


    • It is so fun to find new books!

      Seriously, Bridge to Terabithia. I think it was based on an experience she had, where a friend of one of her children died. But still. It hurts.

      I love your list, Jamie! I will go comment over there, but until I do: Nectar in a Sieve! Break my ninth grade heart, why don’t you.


  8. bookzilla

    I love The Secret Garden, although I find the beginning more heartbreaking than the end. Seeing all those people suffering just hurt me. I was glad to see that there was a happy ending.

    Hated Tuck Everlasting. Always will. : /


    • Yes, the beginning is very sad! I just like Dickon and his family so much, it’s sad when they drop out of the story. But not as sad as a cholera epidemic, certainly.

      I’m sorry you’re not a Tuck Everlasting fan! I love Natalie Babbitt and the worlds she creates.


      • bookzilla

        I love Dickon too, and I’m glad that he and his mother play a bigger role in the book than they do in the film adaptations I’ve seen. I like to imagine that Dickon went on to marry happily and have a gazillion children. 🙂


  9. The Time Traveller’s Wife. I think I wept continuously through the last several chapters and for days afterwards. I would think I was over it, then I would look at my dear husband, and a fresh batch of tears would erupt. I kept saying idiotic things to him, like, “Don’t ever time-travel and die in between planes of existence!” or “That book is soooo saa-aa-aa-aa-d .” It was a full week of the she’s-got-lobsters-coming-from-her-ears expression on my husband’s face. And I swear, I wasn’t menstruating, either. It was just that heart-breaking.


    • You are so right! I can’t believe I forgot that one. And I am constantly saying things like that to my husband: either telling him he’s not allowed to get cancer or dementia, or telling him how glad I am that we’re not pioneers / time travelers / whatever subject we’re watching on TV at the moment. Thanks, Jen!


  10. The Velveteen Rabbit. Reading it aloud to children and grandchildren still makes me cry and the little ones look at me in wonder, or ask me what’s wrong. It is so shocking to them to see me cry…and it makes me talk funny. 😉


  11. where is the good earth and of mice and men? Those are heartbreaking


  12. Do you know other books that use naturalism?


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