The Book Club

With the weather being as dreary as it is, it’s hard not to feel a little down sometimes. Let’s be honest, the burnout is starting to kick in for students, leaving most wanting to just hole up in their rooms. Though many read books to lift their moods, some just want to read a story they can relate to. Many want a book they can empathize with, or that makes them realize that their current feelings, no matter how horrible, are perfectly normal. And, crazily enough, oftentimes that perfect book happens to be a sad one. Reading sad books helps us tap into our emotions, allowing us to finally find the words that explain how we’ve been feeling. Sad books let us cry over someone else’s fictional condition and allow us to get out our own pent-up frustrations and grief in the same teardrops. So, for this week, I want to recommend some sad books that I’ve read and loved over the years. While they may not be the happiest recommendations, they still may be the book you didn’t know you needed right now. So, without further ado, let’s ease into this week’s recommendations. 

When I mention a “sad book,” most of you think along the same lines, usually conjuring up images of a tragic romance by either Nicholas Sparks or John Green. Others may think of some other coming-of-age books from our teenage years, such as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak or The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This isn’t to say that they aren’t sad by any means; I remember myself crying when I read them for the first time. But I want to talk about titles that are a little lower on the list, and the books many may have forgotten existed or may have simply never heard of.  

One of the first authors that came to mind as a master of telling a tear-jerking story is Mitch Albom. Albom is known primarily for his haunting memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, where he depicts the final weeks he spent with his dying mentor and the lessons he learned at his bedside. While this was certainly a sad read, it also had some philosophical elements that left you wondering if you are truly living life to your fullest potential. Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven was just as sad – and just as philosophical – though it happens to be a work of fiction rather than a memoir. The book follows Eddie, who recently died, as he meets five people who deeply impacted his life. They may be his lost loved ones, or simply the losses he found himself haunted by, such as the young girl he accidentally killed. The book is tragically moving and answers the questions of those who wonder why they were put on this earth in the first place, and makes you wonder who your own five people would be. 

Another title that I remember making me tear up is Stephen King’s The Green Mile. Yes, you read that right. The acclaimed horror author that I’ve probably read too many books by managed to create something that was hauntingly devastating, rather than just simply horrifying. The book follows the guards and inmates at the death row block of Cold Mountain Penitentiary as they go about their daily lives. Introduced to a relatively small cast of characters, readers find themselves pulled intimately into the middle of the story as those on the E Block witness strange miracles, injustice and loss every day. Granted, this may be a column about books, but I would highly recommend watching the film adaptation that features Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan, for it finds itself to be just as sad as the book. It’s honestly one of King’s lighter novels, and probably one of his best works in my opinion. Either way, it claims its title as being one of the only books – and films – to make me cry. 

That’s all for this week’s recommendations! While this week may have focused on finding books that allow you to tap into your emotions, don’t let the tragic events – whether they be fictional or not – bog you down completely. Take some time to be with friends this weekend, and marvel at the fact that it’s almost spring break. And, as always, try to get some reading in this weekend.