Have you been looking for a sad book lately? Not just run-of-the mill sad, but a cathartic read, a real tearjerker — one that chops up your heart and leaves it lying in pieces on the floor for you to clean up? If that sounds like just what you need, keep scrolling, because we’ve got 45 heartbreaking book quotes for you to look through here. Find the one that hurts the most, and make that book your next read.

Gut-wrenching books are major emotional roller coasters, and they’re almost always an amazing ride — even when the ride ends in tears. TikTok’s book community in particular has gone gaga for sad books, falling head over heels for titles like Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life and Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us, which just goes to show how much people of all ages need a good tearjerker. Pulling from both TikTok faves and literary classics, the list below is a who’s who of tragic literature.

Below, 45 heartbreaking book quotes.

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1. “We walked to meet each other up at the time of our love and then we have been irresistibly drifting in different directions, and there's no altering that.”

— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

2. "She had tricked him. She had made him leave his old self behind and come into her world, and then before he was really at home in it but too late to go back, she had left him stranded there — like an astronaut wandering about on the moon. Alone."

— Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia

3. “And on that evening when we grow older still we'll speak about these two young men as though they were two strangers we met on the train and whom we admire and want to help along. And we'll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.”

 André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name

4. "So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be."

— Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

5. "I know so many last words. But I will never know hers."

 John Green, Looking for Alaska

6. “[H]appiness isn’t some permanent thing we’re all trying to achieve in life, it’s merely a thing that shows up every now and then, sometimes in tiny doses that are just substantial enough to keep us going.”

— Colleen Hoover, Reminders of Him

7. "You know, a heart can be broken, but it keeps on beating, just the same."

— Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

8. “Papa's voice fit into a groove in my ear, deserted for so many years, now full of his timbre. How easy it was to recognize this once lost detail. There was a home for every departed thing.”

― Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Fruit of the Drunken Tree

9. "I buried Little Ann by the side of Old Dan. I knew that was where she wanted to be. I also buried part of my life along with my dog."

— Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows

10. “My first thought, the year my brother died and my mother took to bed, was that I needed her to be mine again, a mother as I understood it. And when she didn't get up, when she lay there day in and day out, wasting away, I was reminded that I didn't know her, not wholly and completely. I would never know her.”

— Yaa Gyasi, Transcendent Kingdom

11. “After you died I could not hold a funeral, / And so my life became a funeral.”

 Han Kang, Human Acts

12. “And when we look in through the windows, all we see are shadows. And when we try and listen, all we hear is a whispering. And we cannot understand the whispering, because our minds have been invaded by a war. A war that we have both won and lost. The very worst sort of war. A war that captures dreams and re-dreams them. A war that has made us adore our conquerors and despise ourselves.”

 Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

13. “i spent my life arguing how i mattered / until it didn’t matter. / who knew my haven / would be my coffin? / dead is the safest i’ve ever been. / i’ve never been so alive.”

— Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead

14. “Men spoke of how the heart broke up, but never spoke of how the soul hung speechless in the pause, the void, the terror between the living and the dead; how, all garments rent and cast aside, the naked soul passed over the very mouth of Hell. Once there, there was no turning back; once there, the soul remembered, though the heart sometimes forgot. For the world called to the heart, which stammered to reply; life, and love, and revelry, and most falsely, hope, called the forgetful, the human heart. Only the soul, obsessed with the journey it had made, and had still to make, pursued its mysterious and dreadful end; and carried heavy with weeping and bitterness the heart along.”

— James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain

15. "As the light begins to intensify, so does my misery, and I wonder how it is possible to hurt so much when nothing is wrong."

― Tabitha Suzuma, Forbidden

16. “[Y]ou don’t have to be awake to cry.”

— Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

17. “Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss is not felt in the absence of love.”

— Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World

18. “[I]t was as though one had available a never-ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one's relationship… an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable.”

— Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

19. “Forgive me, for all the things I did but mostly for the ones that I did not.”

 Donna Tartt, The Secret History

20. “[T]ime eats away at things: it rusts machinery, it matures animals to become hairless and featherless, and it withers plants…. [P]ain can do that too. Can eat a person until there’s nothing but bone and skin and a thin layer of blood left. How it can eat your insides and swell you in wrong ways.”

— Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing

22. “Hers was tougher than tough love. It was brutal, industrial-strength. A sinewy love that never gave way to an inch of weakness. It was a love that saw what was best for you ten steps ahead, and didn't care if it hurt like hell in the meantime. When I got hurt, she felt it so deeply, it was as though it were her own affliction. She was guilty only of caring too much. I realize this now, only in retrospect. No one in this would ever love me as much as my mother, and she would never let me forget it.”

— Michelle Zauner, Crying in H Mart

23. “She felt a stealing sense of fatigue as she walked; the sparkle had died out of her, and the taste of life was stale on her lips. She hardly knew what she had been seeking, or why the failure to find it had so blotted the light from her sky: she was only aware of a vague sense of failure, of an inner isolation deeper than the loneliness about her.”

— Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

24. “You once told me that the human eye is god's loneliest creation. How so much of the world passes through the pupil and still it holds nothing. The eye, alone in its socket, doesn't even know there's another one, just like it, an inch away, just as hungry, as empty.”

— Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

25. “Depression is like a heaviness that you can’t ever escape. It crushes down on you, making even the smallest things like tying your shoes or chewing on toast seem like a twenty-mile hike uphill. Depression is a part of you; it’s in your bones and your blood.”

 Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes

26. “What we miss — what we lose and what we mourn — isn't it this that makes us who, deep down, we truly are. To say nothing of what we wanted in life but never got to have.”

— Sigrid Nunez, The Friend

27. “No one will know if you stay in bed all day. No one will know if you wear the same sweatpants for the entire month, if you eat every meal in front of television shows and use T-shirts as napkins. Go ahead and listen to that same song on repeat until its sound turns to nothing and you sleep the winter away.”

— Nina LaCour, We Are Okay

28. “The end of things, the real end, is never a neat turn of the screw, never a door that is suddenly shut, but more like an atmospheric change, clouds that slowly gather — more a whimper than a bang.”

— Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive

29. “Pain. I seem to have an affection, a kind of sweettooth for it…. I break lives to prove I can mend them back again. And although the pain is theirs, I share it, don’t I? Of course. Of course. I wouldn't have it any other way. But it is another way. I am uneasy now. Feeling a bit false. What, I wonder, what would I be without a few brilliant spots of blood to ponder? Without aching words that set, then miss, the mark?”

— Toni Morrison, Jazz

30. “Fairness is for happy people, for people who have been lucky enough to have lived a life defined more by certainties than by ambiguities.”

— Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

31. “But maybe that’s the way of life…. To understand things only after they’d passed, only once it was too late.”

 Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man

32. “The weight of what has been lost is always heavier than what remains.”

— Brit Bennett, The Mothers

33. “He was suffering, and in a way, he could manage that; but he had caused others to suffer, and he did not know why he had to live now and recall the series of terrible choices that had not looked so terrible at the time. Was that how it was for most people?”

— Min Jin Lee, Pachinko

34. “Guess that's where the tears came from, knowing that there's so much in this great big world that you don't have a single ounce of control over. Guess the sooner you learn that, the sooner you'll have one less heartbreak in your life.”

— Jacqueline Woodson, Red at the Bone

35. “And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.”

— Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

36. “The more I consider the world, the more I realize that it's supposed to have a cohesion that no longer exists, or that it is swiftly losing — either because it is pulling itself apart, because it has never been cohesive, because my mind is no longer able to hold the pieces together, or, most likely, some jumbled combination of the above.”

— Esmé Weijun Wang, The Collected Schizophrenias

37. “Her pen had a heart inside, and the nib was a wound in a vein. She stained the page with herself.”

— Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, This Is How You Lose the Time War

38. “Of course he wasn't dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.”

 Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

39. “God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of ‘parties’ with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter - they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship - but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.”

— Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

40. “Some leave our life with tears, others with an insane frigidity; Mrs. Wilcox had taken the middle course, which only rarer natures can pursue. She had kept proportion. She had told a little of her grim secret to her friends, but not too much; she had shut up her heart — almost, but not entirely. It is thus, if there is any rule, that we ought to die — neither as victim nor as fanatic, but as the seafarer who can greet with an equal eye the deep that he is entering, and the shore that he must leave.”

— E.M. Forster, Howard’s End

41. “I raised you to care deeply, too much so. About words, for one thing…. I read to you as much as I could, packed your room with dictionaries and encyclopedias, played movies in English constantly in the background, and spoke Khmer only in whispers, behind closed doors. No wonder mere words affected you so much. Even now, you still think language is the key to everything. And that’s my fault — I thought the same thing.”

— Anthony Veasna So, Afterparties

42. “I want to talk to her. I want to have lunch with her. I want her to give me a book she just read and loved. She is my phantom limb, and I just can’t believe I’m here without her.”

— Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck

43. “Now you see… why it is useless to cry. Your tears do not wash away your sorrows. They feed someone else's joy. And that is why you must learn to swallow your own tears.”

— Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

44. “I know that you're selfish, selfish beyond words, and I know that you haven't the nerve of a rabbit, I know you're a liar and a humbug, I know that you're utterly contemptible. And the tragic part is… the tragic part is that notwithstanding I love you with all my heart.”

— W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

45. “I will wonder if the memories that remain with age are heavier than the ones we forget because they mean more to us, or if our bodies, like our nation, eventually purge memories we never wanted to be true.”