Saddest Book You've Ever Read

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Thread: Saddest Book You've Ever Read

  1. #1

    Saddest Book You've Ever Read

    What's the saddest book you've ever read? One that really choked you up.

    For me, it's a non-fiction, Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire. Romeo Dallaire was a Canadian general who oversaw the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda during the genocide in the early nineties.

    It recounts how from the very beginning, Dallaire's efforts were hindered, if not broken, by politics and the orders from his superiors. It recounts how when the genocide finally began his pleas to the international community and his superiors were outright ignored, even suppressed. He had to wrangle for personnel, ammunition, and every crate of rations, which became extremely important when his camp was flooded with thousands of refugees dieing from starvation.

    The book also shows the true horror of genocide and what happens when hate is left unchecked. I'm not kidding when I say this book put me into something like a mild depression for a few months. But it's also one of the most inspirational books I've ever read, in how Dallaire continued to fight tooth and nail for the victims to the point where he suffered a mental breakdown.

  2. #2
    Member Tom88's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Melbourne, Australia
    Sounds like a pretty powerful read. Don't know if I'd be willing to take on something so heavy right now, but I'll be sure to keep it in mind.

    This thread has kind of put me on the spot, but the first book that comes to mind would probably be The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill. I haven't seen the movie or anything, and I wouldn't say that it's a sad novel in the traditional sense. In fact, for the most part, it's a very funny novel. The band of affable prisoners get caught time and time again trying to escape from more than one POW camp. It's the tone of the novel that belies the seriousness of their predicament, and it makes you deeply care about the characters' endeavours.

    What makes it sad is that, after devising the most foolproof tunnel conceivable, narrowly escaping so many close calls, and having the stars align for them (in terms of the few uncontrollable variables in their plan), things still turn out pretty dire in the end. After being conditioned to believe in the power of the human spirit life still proves that She writes the rules, and that no manner of planning or effort can help escape fate.

    I don't think I'd like to see the movie, iconic as it may be. The novel was such a pleasant surprise to me that I don't think I'd risk tarnishing my memories of it. I just don't think the film would convey the emotional pull, though the potential for comedy is definitely there.
    Just give me moments. Not hours or days.

  3. #3
    Only two books have made me cry, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers, and The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I read The Yearling when I was 12 or so and bawled. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is a beautifully written novel and one of my favorites. I've read it a few times and it always makes me cry. The movie, also a gem, really gets me too.

  4. #4
    Member shadows's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    in my head
    sadddest book I ever read was Malka by Miriam Pressler - about a seven year old Jewish girl who is separated from her mum and sister in Hungary in World War 2. She ends up in the Ghetto having to survive alone and avoid being taken by the Nazis.

  5. #5
    Dallaire's book was a very powerful read and an eye opener to how inept the United Nations and the world community really are. It was really sad on how there were several peace officers, each a hero in their own right who that died without any recognition whatsoever.

    Read a few books on PoWs of WW2 and Holocaust survivor accounts. They were depressing and mortifying enough to ruin a few of your days.
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  6. #6
    WF Veteran Bilston Blue's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    Bilston, the Black Country, in the heart of England
    Primo Levi's 'Is This A Man.' Autobiographical account of the author's time as a prisoner in one of the Auschwitz camps, I believe it was the Monowitz camp, though can't quite remember. It's been nearly twenty years since I read it and I still remember how sad I felt reading it, and humble to.
    "I think a life is a plot. It's probably the elementary plot. I came across a quotation of Patrick White, the Australian writer, just about the time I needed it. He said he never bothers with plot. He just writes about life 'limping along toward death.' That made me feel much better, to keep this in my mind."

    Carol Shields.

  7. #7
    'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley.

    I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it, so I'll smply state: It is a beutifully written work of art that several times nearly brought tears from mine eyes.

  8. #8
    I just finished The Grapes of Wrath bySteinbeck, and it had me crying several times. I won't say it's the saddest book I've read, but it might be up there. Ask me what I think in a few weeks; I'll probably have a new one. Books make me cry easily.

  9. #9
    Black Heart Horror (a true story) from which came the movie Poltergeist. I had to sleep with the lights on after this one as I didn't live all that far from the real location. That family needlessly went through unnecessary crap (they moved the headstones, but not the bodies).

  10. #10
    Probably 'The Book Thief'.

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