Heartbreaking books that were worth the pain

Books that broke our hearts but put them back together again

There’s nothing better than a book that will shatter your heart into pieces but in the best possible way! Sometimes we need a good cry, and there’s something to be said for a book that has you in an emotional chokehold that feels. . . oddly nice. If you’re into a good old fashioned sobfest and enjoy reading heartbreaking stories, look no further. Here’s a list of books that broke our hearts, but also put them back together again.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

What would you change if you could go back in time? Before the Coffee Gets Cold is the first book in Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful series about a coffee shop which offers its customers the chance to travel back in time. You’ll become emotionally invested in the different endearing characters as you follow their wistful attempts to change their respective pasts, whether that be seeing a loved one again for the last time or confronting someone who did them wrong. Tragic, relatable, wonderful. . . you’ll be left with a heart full of empathy and hope.

The Nightingale

by Kristin Hannah

Soon to be a major motion picture, The Nightingale has captured the hearts of millions. Whether you’ll be reading this on holiday or on your morning commute, don’t forget your tissues. Packed with action and emotion, this story celebrates the resilience of women during World War II. You’ll be fighting back tears as you follow sisters Vianne and Isabelle embarking on their individual journeys towards survival, making impossible choices in the name of love and freedom. Make space in your heart for this beautifully tragic novel that everyone is gushing over.


by James Hynes

James Hynes’s engrossing coming-of-age story introduces us to one of the most powerfully affecting and memorable characters of recent fiction. Sparrow is a young boy raised in a brothel at the edge of a dying Roman Empire. But a hard fate awaits him, one that involves suffering and the scattering of the little community that has been his whole world. But your heartbreak at Sparrow’s plight will be soothed somewhat by his touching relationship with his ‘mother’ Euterpe, a beautiful showcase of how love can shine through even during the hardest of times.

I Wish You All the Best

by Mason Deaver

One of the most important stories about a non-binary teen finding their voice you will ever read. When Ben De Backer comes out as non-binary, it doesn’t go as planned. All Ben can do is try to keep a low profile in a new school, but as a friendship with charismatic Nathan grows, their feelings begin to change. You’ll feel all the feels when what started as a disastrous turn of events becomes a chance to start a happier, new life. At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is a sweet celebration of friendship and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

Single Bald Female

by Laura Price

Single Bald Female is the literal definition of a book that breaks your heart while simultaneously putting it back together again. Drawing from the author’s personal experience of battling cancer, the protagonist Jessica Jackson’s shock diagnosis of breast cancer turns her content life completely upside down. But then she meets Annabel, another cancer patient who may not have long left. Together, the two women set out to make every day count — life doesn’t stop for a second just because you’re ill. Simultaneously devastating yet surprisingly funny, it will take you on the most profound journey of emotions leaving you appreciating life and friendship with the fullest heart.

A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

Coming to the West End in March, A Little Life is an immensely powerful and poignant novel about  love and the limits of human endurance. At the centre of the story is Jude, a victim of unresolved trauma of which Hanya Yanagihara spares us no mercy in revealing. Despite finding some comfort from his relationships with Willem, Malcolm and JB, he never finds true relief from his suffering. This is ultimately one of the most addictively heartbreaking books you’ll ever read, so prepare yourself for a gut-punch on each page of beautifully explored misery.

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Not just one of the greatest classics of the twentieth century, The Great Gatsby is a romance, a tragedy, a novel of courage and shattered dreams. Jay Gatsby, living mysteriously in his luxurious Long Island mansion, plays host to lavish parties in the hope that Daisy Buchanan will one day show her face. Your heart will be bound to his obsessive infatuation with Daisy and her fraught relationship with her cheating husband. A tragic love story played out beneath a shimmering facade, we read with mournful anticipation as their desire to be together moves in a dangerous direction.

One For My Enemy

by Olivie Blake

One For My Enemy is your heart-wrenching story of star-crossed lovers who are forced to put family honour and reputation before their love. In New York City, two rival witch families fight for the upper hand. Bad blood carries them to the brink of disaster, even as fate draws together a brother and sister from either side. An exhilarating, agonising read where each characters’ thoughts and emotions come alive and will pull you into their narratives. This is for fans of a Romeo and Juliet-esque love story, but with a sprinkling of the fantastical.

How To Save a Life

by Eva Carter

If it’s love stories that make you weak, then this deliciously complicated romance will have you hooked. The story starts when Joel’s heart stops, and Kerry saves his life. She supports him through his recovery and they discover a connection neither of them anticipated. But, Joel abruptly ends the relationship, leaving us, and Kerry, heartbroken and haunted by what might have been. Nevertheless, their lives continue to collide. Joel got a second chance at life; will Kerry get a second chance at love?

You've Reached Sam

by Dustin Thao

If you remember the heartache of your first love and loss, get ready to relive it again. Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out: move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend a college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But everything changes when Sam dies. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls his phone to listen to his voicemail and Sam picks up the phone. . . A story of second chances at saying goodbye, You’ve Reached Sam will make an instant connection with anyone looking for a big emotional, magical read.