What’s the most depressing book you’ve ever read? ?+?=?…..Ready Readers?What’s the most depressing book you’ve ever read??+?=? Elvis #questionnaire
“A Perfect Spy” by John le Carré
She’s come undone.
A little life….
Yes! But so beautiful!
Yeah it almost broke me
I worried about those characters for ages after I finished the book.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
I’m reading that right now. The writing is wonderful.
That almost broke me….
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Agree with you Dawn!
Oh gosh. That was awful.
Is that set in Scotland? I think that might be the one I couldn’t get into?
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. But it was heartbreakingly beautiful.
The Giver Series..I could see similarities to current times and where humanity someimes seems to be headed
sometimes (tiny keyboard)
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan ???
Night by Elie Wiesel…loved it but cried for two weeks❤️
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, extraordinary book but how depressing…
Never Let Me Go
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Did love it though!
It was very good, but man, his books are so depressing!
Depressing in the sense that they were unerringly grim and and gloomy. Not sad, but gloomy, and with characters that largely all need a darned good slap. It was a real effort to get through them.
I haven’t read these. My husband is a huge Stephen R. Donaldson fan and I think he would agree with you.
@Lisa he is an excellent writer – the first six Covenants were excellent if challenging. I guess it is a sign of that quality that the last four conveyed such a sense of gloom. Either that or he wanted people to stop asking for more!
Oh god yes! Least favorite character, Thomas Covenant.
I remember finding “The Pearl” depressing, but it has been 40+ years.
That is one I wish I could unread. It was that rough for me.
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
Yes! Nothing redeeming in that book. Couldn’t empathize with any of the characters and ending was just dismal.
I found myself wishing bad things would happen to every character.
The narrow road to the deep north by Richard Flanagan or Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
All the bright places.
Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir by Margaux Fragoso. I feel like I’m traumatized from that book
You’re the only other person I’ve ever heard of who’s read this! I found this book terrible but fascinating. Amazing Margeaux turned out as normal as she did.
Same, fascinating but so sad. Margeux actually died recently of ovarian cancer. Just so sad
Oh, how tragic!
right?! just all around sad.
Night by Elie Weisel
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowksi. This book was made doubly sad by the fact the author committed suicide after surviving Auschwitz. ?
Grapes of Wrath
I read it when I was 10 and I remember my mom sitting and rocking me like a baby while I cried and cried.
@Amy but there’s hope in Tom and Rose a Sharyn giving life.
The Road, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, almost every book by Edith Wharton.
Loved Edith’s books but were distressing because if the total unfairness of societal norms
We live near her estate, The Mount, and my sister worked there one summer as a ticket collector. On slow days you were allowed to read a book but only ones by Wharton. I read them along with her so we could talk about them. I agree that all her books are heartbreaking. The House of Mirth was the worst one for me.
Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis.
Around the world in eighty days
Girl in Pieces, Go Ask Alice, The Catcher in the Rye
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, the kite runner by Khaled houssein
Did love The Kite Runner though!
I loved the Kite Runner but it was depressing.
The Nightingale, indeed. I was listening to the audiobook during my commute, with tears running down my face. It’s right up there with Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell.
On the Beach Neville Shute
I cried and cried and cried and cried………..
Boy in the Striped Pajamas
A Little Life
I agree @Mark!
Absolutely the most depressing.
The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.
Ditto in The Grapes of Wrath. I was about 14 and would only eat boiled potatoes (no salt, pepper or butter); lost weight when I needed to gain. A Time to Kill had me in tears throughout with good ending.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Grapes of Wrath, The Pearl.
Each of McCourt’s books SO powerful!
That’s the book I chose also. Too sad.
Push- depressing and disturbing
I was pretty young when I tried to read that one, I couldn’t finish it. Maybe I’ll try again, but there are some passages I still think about that make me sick.
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
Filth by Irvine Welsh. Made me highly suspicious of all men.
The novelized version of Ghostbusters 2
A child called it by Dave pelzers
That one is bad
Yes. I will never understand how a parent could turn on a child like that, especially singling one out specifically.
Couldn’t read it. Tooooo sad.
Yeah, I was so disgusted with that bitch. It haunts even more bcoz it’s real and not fictional.
Searching for Sara. The words on the pages has an ability to find a way to your heart.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, don’t look to Oprah for a cheerful book1
That’s not the first book O. chose that’s sad. I finally quit following her “book lead.”
But I loved the book!
I freaking hate that book! I literally scrolled to find this comment. The ending was horrible. Horrible as in I cried and wondered what the point was.
@Brittany that book was mimicking Hamlet. No chance for a happy ending there…
But the dpgs were the best characters.
If only I had known!!!!!!!
Angela’s Ashes…..tried twice……toooooo sad for me. It’s my sister’s favorite book.
This is one of the few books I have read more than once. It was sad though.
Everything I never told you.
Push. Omg so depressing
Everything I Never Told You. It was heartbreaking because you could see the inner workings of everyone’s thoughts and emotions. You could understand them, but the other characters didn’t have that insight.
Lily and the octopus
Boy in the Striped Pajamas
So sad, and shocking
The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz. Didn’t think it would be that depressing and horrible because it had a Golden Retriever on the cover! ?
All books by Edith Warton – Ethan Frome being especially depressing
A child called It
A Fine Balance by Rohintin Mistry
Yes! Me too.
The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski. It was supposedly autobiographical, but years later it was revealed to be plagiarized as well as fictional. Depressing nevertheless.
A Child Called It ?
I cried so much reading Unbroken. I love the book but, oh the tears.
A Little Life
A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
I had to stop reading.
When It Rains by Lisa Dejong, ugly cried for like two hours ?
Still Tess of the D’Ubervilles ???
Also my most hated
Loved it, but cried for the next week
I agree . Sad and hated. Angel St. Claire. Come on!
Angela’s Ashes without a doubt
LARose, by Louise Erdrich
We Need to Talk about Kevin-this May be more disturbing than depressing
The Pearl-I read this in high school and finished it in class/study hall. I cried so hard in a roomful of my classmates. I don’t remember too much teasing about it.
Kevin is a book??? I have the movie but haven’t watched it yet. Very interesting!
And I have to agree about The Pearl. Tore my heart. But it speaks true. ??
@KatKat I have never seen the movie. I think I was so traumatized by the book that I was afraid of seeing it in action.
Thanks for letting me know! I make it a point to read the book first then watch the movie, before I can critique.
The movie is powerful and thought-provoking. Hard to watch, though.
We need to talk about Kevin is a book ~ I couldn’t face reading it as I was working with a lot of children who had their own problems ~ didn’t want to hear any more.
Totally agree that We Need to Talk About Kevin was one of the most disturbing books but also very engaging. The movie was the same – worth watching ( in a depressing kind of way…)
Go Ask Alice.
The Sport of Kings
We the Living
Jude the obscure
“Done because we are too menny” will stay with me for life!
Oh, yes I had forgotten that one ~ entirely depressing.
All Nicholas Sparks books.. and DaVinci Code,holy crow that book was so boring..
“A little Life” – it’s so wonderful though.
My thought exactly. Loved it but it killed me.
Ya, that one was right up there. The main character was so self hating.
A boy called it
That book fucked me up FOR DAYS
When she had to choose. Never thought I’d recover.
The movie too,I cried all the way through it.
More horrible than depressing, didn’t finish the book and would never watch the movie.
Never recovered. My friend still has nightmares.
Oh, yeah. Forgot about that one. And Joy Luck Club
Sasha, my friend.
The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jude The Obscure…..Anything by Thomas Hardy really.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
I did love it though!
Me too ^^
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
So, “fun” story. When I was a kid, my mom would take me to the grocery store with her and bribe good behavior out of me by telling me if I was good I could pick out a book after we had finished shopping. One random day when I was 5 or 6, I picked up A Child Called It and flipped through it for a moment, only to have my mother run over, frantically snatch it out of my hands and tell me never to touch it again. Years later, when I was 17 or 18, I asked her about it and she got really upset, “I’ve read it, I guess you’re old enough now but you’ll have to find it and get it yourself, and I don’t want to talk about it.” “OKAY WHATEVER MOM IT CANT BE THAT BAD” Y’all, it was that bad. I sat there and cried through the entire thing and continued to get teary eyed every time I thought about it for months afterward. That book broke my heart. I’ve never picked it up since, and maintain that I’m glad I downloaded the eBook because I couldn’t look at it on my shelf every day.
The title sounds familiar. Is this about the abused 4-year old child and survived his ordeal?
It was sad and every day there are horrific stories about child abuse that are heartbreaking.
@KatKat yes ? What’s even worse is, I can’t remember if it’s a prologue or an epilogue or an authors note or whatever, he basically says “Don’t feel bad for me, I got out. Feel bad for children who are enduring this right now.” And I was just crushed at the thought of some four year old child being abused and tortured at the very moment I was reading those words, it was such an awful feeling
Totally agree. Hard to imagine the horror inflicted on kids.
I can’t watch those ID shows about child abuse either, it always makes me want to run out and snatch babies away from people XD
That’s really horrible! I feel sad but mostly anger from those who do the abuse. Why??!!! What’s the purpose??? What do you gain from it? Not just abusing children but also animals!!!!
That book made me so sad too
Most of us are genetically predisposed to be empathic and protective towards weaker individuals. Especially children. However, there are some who lack said coding in their DNA and therefore act in ways that are demonstritavely monstrous to the rest of us. Sadly, their number, while small in comparison to the general population is a fraction, it is still significant enough for stories like this to be far more than rare or isolated incidents.
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpugo
Usually Nicholas sparks
This probably isn’t the most depressing, but The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was pretty depressing for me.
I saw somebody mention that upthread, I’ve ever heard of it
It’s a good book, but it didn’t leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling. The author is David Wroblewski.
Read half of the 900 pages and gave up, so depressing. Glad I didn’t finish it when I heard how it ended.
I thought it was a great book, but agree it was pretty grim.
Y’all I’m so tired, thought this was a different comment thread, the one about a child called it. And I saw you say “I thought it was a great book, but…” and I had SO MANY ANGRY WORDS FOR YOU XD
“All This Life” by Hanya Yanagihara.
The Daughters Of Juarez
The Radium Girls
Villette by Charlotte Brontë – forced to read it for O Level English – nothing happens. For 500 odd pages, all she does is travel to Belgium to teach at a girls school, mopes around after a male teacher, then goes home again. Most depressing book ever, and i read it about 40 years ago ☹️ Put me off reading classic novels permanently!
Oh, that makes me sad. If you ever decide to try classic novels again, hit me up for a good one 🙂
Wait did we read the same book? I love Villette, it has a powerful feminist ending. By the end if the book the protagonist finds reciprocated love, but that ends up being a sub plot because she discovers what she really wanted was the financial independence and intellectual challenge of running her own school. Which she achieves by the end of the novel.
@Kristy I was far too young/immature at 15 to appreciate it, and sadly, it has stuck with me as “a bad book”! I failed the exam too, but that may have been due to a rant about The Taming of the Shrew…
@CarolAnne if I am being honest, I probably would have hated Villette at 15 too! Hahah. It is one of my favourite books now though. Ugh the Taming of the Shrew is the worst.
I totally agree with @Kristy!!!
Diary of Anne frank.
No one has said “Steinbeck” yet 😮
A child called it.
That was a very heartbreaking book.
Well, in a literal “sad” sense, probably The Road or Of Mice and Men. In a sense of relating to the current social climate, Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche.
Mornings in Jenin
Into the wild
Very sad but I did enjoy reading it though!
@Linda Me too
Grapes of Wrath.
Misery by Stephen king
We Were Liars
Loved that book!
Of Mice and Men
Loved this book. I read it at my grandmother’s when I was 12 and spirited it home with me. My daughter found it, read it, and spirited it home with her.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I didn’t even have to think about it. I read it as a high school student (on my own – not as a class assignment) and was appalled.
We Have to Talk About Kevin.
Boy in the Striped Pajamas
I’ve not read the book but boy does the film hit you at the end. 😮
@Rob haven’t seen the film, but when I turned the last page of the book I actually shouted out ‘Nooooo!’. I loved the book but the ending was Like a punch to the guts
Sounds just like the film then
I saw the film and was shaken for …. a while. This book is for children???
@Louisa we, as adults know exactly what is happening, but children don’t necessarily have those historical facts. What is most shocking to us is based on prior knowledge
An old one – The Strange Career of Jim Crow.
Sophie’s Choice. I had to stop reading before the last few chapters. It’s such a heartbreaking story. I went back & finished reading months later.
Atonement. beautiful but so sad.
A thousand splendid suns by Khaled houssein
Thank you for this thread! it’s now my “steer clear of these books!” list
Sophie’s Choice for me. Utterly heartbreaking.
The Grapes of Wrath
Yes. But l felt it ended on hope for the future.
Lincoln in the Bardo
My favorite book <3 I've read it 3 times, and my cousin has read it twice... We've decided that we both need therapy, lol!!
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
Oh wait can I add to mine now that I’ve thought of it (no coffee yet!)
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Steven King- The Long Walk
did not read the book but the movie was depressing enough!
Gone Girl – Love gone wrong so betray, blame, plot, torture, repeat. No hope, just an endless cycle of destructive behavior. Depressing.
Wouldn’t read it bc the blurb was depressing.
Angie Young I know. A lot of my friends did, too. Thankfully there are enough books out there to keep us all satisfied. 🙂
Helter Skelter. I threw it away when I was done. Didn’t want to pass it on or recommend it to anyone.
Ohhh this one sounds interesting to me. Then again I loved the book the ice man killer.
I have a very wide taste in books lol. I was in my teens reading ice man killer my mom looked at one page and threw it away. Thankfully I had already finished it.
The hard part was that this one is a true crime, not fiction. I first read Capote’s In Cold Blood and then moved on to Helter Skelter, but I had a hard time with it–the gruesome reality of the evil was too much for me. FYI, Charles Manson died last month, finally.
@Donnie That story sounds chilling!
Oh yea ice man is true story as well
Ice man had a twisted sense of morality there is one where he kills a pedophile and had you kind of cheering for him. Most of it was morbid mob killings a horrible domestic abuse.
Jennie Gerhardt. Theodore Drieser
A Monster Calls was rough
I cried big huge heaving sobs through that one…
Probably Bridge to Terebithia. I don’t really like being sad and that affected me quite a bit, so from then on I’m pretty careful to seek out books with happier themes, or at least a shred of hope.
The Fault is in their Stars.
Great movie, but yes, so sad.
I’ve only read the book. Bawled like a baby.
I read that as ‘randy readers’ – shows where my mind is at ?
Me, too! “Ready readers” was an odd way to start a post! Lol.
So did I!!
Notre-Dame de Paris
Catch 22. Couldn’t finish it.
I’m sure there is joke there somewhere!
A Dragon of ink and stars
I still really liked that book though. Did you?
The first time I read it I didn’t like it but the re-read helped. Not at all what I was expecting.
I must say that I find all of his books difficult to read, but I still really like them, and I think he is an amazing writer. He certainly makes me think a great deal!!
@Cindy – agreed! Have you read Bellevue Square? My brain hurts from thinking so hard ?but I loved it.
Not yet, but it was part of a prize basket I won from Canadian Living :). I have to many books to read right now, it’s hard to know where to start LOL.
My math school books ?
Child 44. I didn’t even read it.
The ending of comedian Jenny Eclair’s first novel Camberwell Beauty was a real downer… I remember it being a good read, but the ending made me cry.
Boy Called It.
That was a sad, sad book and so much worse because it was/is true.
Exactly! I came from an abused home but nothing like that poor boy had to face.
Awful isn’t it that these things still happen.
Yes it is!
People who haven’t seen it wouldn’t believe it ~ in fact too many don’t believe it.
Bastard out of Carolina
I saw that on lifetime when I was a little girl! Ugh! You are so right! It’s so sad! I’m from NC (small town) That movie made me glad that my mama would NEVER choose a man over her children.
Everything on Lifetime is sad.
True I have been hooked on hallmark Christmas movies now lol
She’s Come Undone
Oh my god it’s been years since I read that
That broke my heart when I read it as a child. YES
The Grapes of Wrath
Boy called it
David Joy’s The Weight of This World.
I love his writing, but I’ll need medication to finish reading this without losing the will to live.
A Little Life was depressing but it was also very good at the same time
The Handmaid’s Tale.
Thread of Grace by Mary Doria. It was beautiful and I cried throughout the book. The Nightingale. Joy Luck Club. Sophie’s Choice.
Lovely Bones…depressing and sad from beginning to end
I really did not like that book ~ it wasn’t lovely in any way.
the time traveler’s wife
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I was seriously mad when I was done, it was so depressing, mostly because I powered through and I didn’t want to but it came so highly recommended, would still like those hours back.
Yes the Road!!
Grapes of Wrath (also so boring I couldn’t finish), Sophie’s Choice, The Road, Night, Angela’s Ashes. Just because they were depressing, doesn’t mean they weren’t good books, though.
I agree, Mary. I think Sophie’s Choice is one of the best books I’ve ever read, but it is sad, and very distressing and depressing, mostly because of the Holocaust theme. The same with Night. Also, I’ve read all of Frank McCourt’s books, and Angela’s Ashes is his best–the movie is way more depressing than the book (the scene where the babies are all sleeping together and what happens is a starting and so sad scene in the book, and doesn’t deliver quite so well in the movie).
Thousand Splendid Suns
Almost anything from Oprah’s picks!
“Depressing” as in story line or writing style?
@Elvis …..”Things Fall Apart”……..Chinua Achebe
Good one…such a beautiful classic
@Elvis……it is. One of my favorite books. It reveals the harshness of humanity when one culture attempts to change another.
Couldn’t have said it any better….
“The Story of Edgar Sawtelle “ – David Wrobleski
Yes – but also one of my most favorite books ever.
I loved that book!
1984 by George Orwell – horrible
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
The lightless sky
Grapes of Wrath
Oh God – yes!
I found it darkly funny at times too but it was a doozy. Tried watching the show and couldn’t do it.
@Katie there was a show?
Yeah it was one season on hbo.
The Elementary Particles.
Yes, Oprah’s are usually sad. I only read a few years ago when she first started her reading club. I was always thankful for her lifting up literature!
George Orwell’s “A Clergyman’s Daughter”. Horrible father. No hope for the daughter.
A little life
On my TBR bookshelf.
Paul and Verginie…
The most depressing ever.
The Road. But, to be fair, i didn’t even finish it. I saw a spoiler and realized that the end was just as bleak as the rest of the book. Pass.
The movie was the same
And let’s not forget Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
The Child From the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge. I SOBBED at the end of it and could never read another book by her.
Read that about forty years ago and loved it! Maybe I just enjoyed soaking up the history.
The Shah by Dr.Abbas Milani
A Little Life….like damn that hurt! hahaha
Maps for lost Lovers
The Crimson Petal and the White.
Couldnt finish it.
How tastes vary! It was my book of the year. (Though I wouldn’t watch the TV version.)
@Russell it was good. Book was better.
Lord of the Flies.
Agree. My granddaughter has to read this in school, she’s in the fifth grade. I told her I was sorry she was forced to read that.
It is such a disturbing book.
Maybe not # 1 downer, but yes.
A child called it
“Night” by Elie Wiesel
Jude the Obscure
1. ANYTHING by Kafka
2. Sophie’s Choice. I read excerpts, reviews, heard it discussed and it sounded so depressing I’ve refused to read it.
The perfect victim.
Angela’s Ashes anyone? Sophie’s Choice was hard, White Oleander, Glass Castle was rough for a while…
Agree with White Oleander
Ang. Ash nearly killed me. I didn’t finish it. Tried 2x
Not sure about the most but Ethan Frome certainly ranks.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara or Mama Black Widow by Iceberg Slim.
Another: Only one book has caused me to dissolve in tears and great heaving sobs … Erich Segal’s Love Story. This is an oldie … early 70s? Was on the Times bestseller list for a long time and much talked about. Maybe it was more cathartic than depressing.
Omg, I cried hard with that one, too. So long ago I forgot about it!
I bawled like a baby….at the movie tool
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
I think that was more sad than depressing…extremely sad.
Annette Bjorkman yes perhaps you are right. My next book is a novel entitled going home about a Holocaust survivor. My wife said she could not help edit it because she knows, though a Christian novel, to be truthful I won’t be able to soften it much.
@Willis I looked you up on google to see if I know any of your books and I see you live in the same area/town as my sister and a few other relatives.
@Annette awesome. Where about do they live
@Willis Lake Charles
@Annette I am 71 years old and have lived in Lake Charles or around that area since I was six. What is her name?
@Annette As for my books they are not very well known though they are on Amazon since I’ve self published. I never expected to write a trilogy my first go-round. I just wrote myself into it. My third and final book should come out sometime this month or first part of January.
@Willis I’ll pm you.
The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)
I’ve mentioned my quota, but Yes!
Auto-biography of Someth May
The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
A lot of these I find uplifting after I finish. The Jungle is one of my all time favorite books. I think of all the times he got knocked down and found his way out often.
That’s how I feel about Angela’s Ashes…more sad than depressing.
@Annette , very sad!
All Quiet on the Western Front
Frozen In Time
12 Years A Slave
Recently, The Underground Railroad.
Am reading that at the moment!
Badly written books are all depressing.
50 Shades of Grey ???
Waiting For Godot
Okay, just read this thread from the start. For storyline, GRACE by Natashia Deon.
The Long Walk by Stephen King
The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III.
Agree. So sad?
Rebecca by Bryce Courtenay……so depressing!!
A Little Life for sure ?
The lovely bones. And I was pregnant at the time which made it much worse.
Loved that book. Didn’t like the movie though.
@Shlok never say the movie. No way was I gonna revisit that story.
Whoa! Rough timing!
I loved the book and really enjoyed the movie. Stanley Tucci was superb in it.
I loved it and love her.
To each their own.
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
I was depressed for a few days after finishing it.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
House of Sand and Fog!
Amen to that! I recommended it to my mother. She was so mad when she finished it. ???
The seven year dress
Madame Bovary is sad too.
But such a great book too❤️?
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It’s so good.
The Yellow Birds
A dogs life
Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
The fault in our stars..
The perks of being a wallflower ..
A walk to remember
I don’t find any of these depressing
Two choices. Of Mice and men and one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Both amazing but so sad
Both sad but not depressing.
Very sad book, that was our community read a few years ago, we had the author come to town and speak. He was interesting.
Checkers – John Marsden
7 shades of ambiguity
One Second After
This was sad as hell.
Check out When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid
The Kite Runner
We Are Water by Wally Lamb was pretty depressing.