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"I End Up Sobbing For HOURS Every Time I Finish It": People Are Sharing The Books That Had The Biggest Emotional Impact On Them

A great book can make you feel a wide range of emotions in only a few hundred pages. Sometimes, you stumble across a rare book that leaves such an emotional impact on you, it stays with you for years to come.

Recently, I asked the BuzzFeed Community which books had the biggest emotional impact on them.

Here are 19 of their top responses:

1."Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell. It’s a young reader's prose based on two Mohawk sisters during the era when Indigenous children were sent to boarding schools. I read it first in sixth grade, and it has stuck with me for the last ten years."

Two girls embracing, overlooking a house, on the cover of "Sweetgrass Basket" by Marlene Carvell

"I finally bought my own copy. Cried harder than I remember when reading it before."

peachytaurus

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2."Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Her writing is so vibrant that I pictured everything happening in my head as I read the book. It left me with a really uneasy feeling, almost like I was trying to forget an ugly memory, but I kind of liked that."

Book cover of 'Sharp Objects' by Gillian Flynn

"I had never really had that type of impact from reading a book before. It definitely made me want more. I enjoyed Gone Girl and Dark Places, but Sharp Objects reigns supreme."

bovineeyes

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3."The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Something about it really just kind of gut-punched me. It was the first book that made me cry."

Cover of "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton, featuring a person in a leather jacket

"It’s just so well-written and interesting. I recommend it to everyone who hasn’t already read it!"

elissad3

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4."All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It handles grief and mental health, and life and death so beautifully, and the characters are so rich and easy to connect to. I read All the Bright Places once or twice every single year, and I end up sobbing for HOURS every time I finish it even though I already know how it ends."

Book cover of "All the Bright Places" by Jennifer Niven with sticky notes, a bird drawing

"Finch is probably my favorite character of all time, in any book. And the way Niven portrays him? As someone who has struggled with mental illness my whole life, his character is so spectacularly, perfectly done. I love Finch, I love Violet, and I love their story. (Even though it makes me cry.)"

wendyhaddon

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5."Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It was the only book I’ve read that truly made me sob."

Cover of "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller featuring a golden helmet

"Though it is a romance type book, I absolutely loved it, and the ending rips my heart to shreds every time!"

hannahcipollina

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6."All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. I was just reading it for some extra credit during our unit on WWI in high school. It left me in tears and completely changed my outlook on war."

Cover of "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Remarque with battlefield image

"It should be required reading for everyone, so they can all see how horrendously cruel and useless wars are."

hailcthulhu

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7."The No-Show by Beth O'Leary. It's essentially a rom-com, but the big plot twist in it knocked me down. I remember reading and bawling. I actually had to stop for a while to compose myself."

Three illustrated characters on a book cover titled "The No-Show" by Beth O'Leary

"I even sent a DM to the author on Instagram (which she very kindly replied to) because I was so moved by that book. It's so amazing."

melinaarangel

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8."One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. It’s the only book that ever made me cry for ten minutes straight after a character died."

Cover of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Prize winner note, with abstract green art

"I literally had to move to a different room because I couldn’t handle it. And despite all the magical realism the novel contains, it’s one of the realest piece of literature I’ve read."

hof

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9."The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. I was teaching fourth grade at the time and was reading ahead obviously to prepare for the lessons, but I got caught up in this book. I decided to wait and read the chapters to the students so we both had a first read. Once I read the ending, I literally threw the book (sorry Kate) because I was so moved by the ending."

Book cover of 'The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane' by Kate DiCamillo with an illustration of a toy rabbit

"The kids went wild over it, and I’m really glad we got to experience that together."

tmc1234

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10."Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. It made me laugh and cry, and have multiple existential crises."

Book cover of "Tuck Everlasting" by Natalie Babbitt with overlaid text asking "What if you could live forever?" and a person holding a dragonfly

"Never did I think such a tiny book could pack such a powerful story."

andrewfirriolo

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11."I read And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts at 18. It is an investigative journalist’s exposé of the AIDS crisis covering the first known case all the way through the 1980s told in a narrative style. You meet real characters and fall in love with them, only to slowly watch them die, and it’s heart wrenching."

20th anniversary book cover of "And the Band Played On" by Randy Shilts about the AIDS epidemic

"You also meet doctors desperately trying to find treatments for terminally ill patients under a culture of relentless anti-gay mindsets that see the disease as divine punishment. You meet the children of IV drug users who never get to leave the hospital in their short lives. You meet partners watching their loved one die, unable to have any rights to decide their burial or funeral because gay marriage was illegal.

It takes something often portrayed like an after-school special and makes it very real in all its ugliness. I think I cried every chapter, but it made me understand the horrific traumas suffered by older members of the LGBTQ community and how far we’ve come."

omgitsaclaire

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12."The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon is probably the most life-changing book I’ve ever read. The first-person main character is high-functioning autistic, and their thought processes eerily echoed my own in a way no other fictional character had before."

Cover of "The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon, Tenth Anniversary Edition, with a facial close-up

"Six months and an evaluation later, I had an official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome."

toothlessfeline

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13."The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. It’s my favorite book of all time (even though it’s middle grade) because I'm a sucker for historical fiction. It’s such a beautiful story about friendship during segregation and racial uncertainty, and every time you read it, it feels like the first time all over again."

Book cover of "The Lions of Little Rock" by Kristin Levine, featuring two clasped hands and a title emblem

"This book is criminally underrated. One detail that I love the most is that the ending is hopeful, not happy, because it’s set during 1958. It wouldn’t make sense for everyone to love each other and for the white girl and the Black girl to be friends with sunshine and rainbows. Instead, the ending is hopeful. Marlee is hopeful for change. All in all, RUN, don’t walk to buy this book."

supersinger14

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14."The only thing I can thank my tenth-grade English teacher for is expanding my literary tastes from light fantasy to thought-provoking hard science fiction by recommending I read Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. That book was a real eye-opener for a teenager in the late ‘80s."

Cover of "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein, featuring silhouetted figure and celestial bodies

"While I have since outgrown many of Heinlein’s philosophies, his books were my gateway to a much broader and richer world of ideas."

toothlessfeline

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15."Unsouled by Will Wight. The Cradle series is incredible. It pulled out some of the most painful, and some of the most beautiful, pieces of my heart and showed me a fundamentally different way to be with them."

Book cover of "Unsouled" by Will Wight, featuring a wooden token with symbols, part of the Cradle series

"If you’ve ever willingly walked away from the world you knew to become who you are supposed to be, Lindon will walk with you."

chaoticemmes

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16."Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. It was assigned either junior or senior year (so 1990ish for me). There was something about the frankness of Offred's voice, coupled with the most relatable dystopian world-building I'd ever read, that truly had me recognizing myself and the world I was living in."

Book cover of "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, featuring a minimalist illustration

"I'm not saying the novel made me a feminist, but it was the beginning of my journey towards the realization that my body is inviolable and that my thoughts and body are owned by me and me alone."

filmteach

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17."Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls still makes me emotional even though I haven't actually read it since I was ten. I was looking for something to read, and it was on a bookshelf. I had no idea what I was getting into. It was like a punch in the gut."

Cover of 'Where the Red Fern Grows' showing a boy and his dogs under a moonlit sky

"I've tried reading it again over the years but never manage to finish it. I still think it's a good book. I'm glad I read it, but it seems clear that it'll probably be a book I only ever read all the way through once.

Strangely, I didn't have that kind of visceral reaction to other books about childhood, growing up, and/or losing pets."

torbielillies

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18."Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut made a big impact on me before I really ever connected to it emotionally. I wrote a term paper on it in high school and started a love for his books because of how witty and goofy he was in his stories. Like, how someone could relate WWII PTSD to being abducted by aliens and traveling through space and time was wild to me and he managed to make light of a really serious subject."

Book cover of "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut with a skull and crossbones emblem

"What I didn’t know until much later is that Kurt Vonnegut used writing as a way of expressing difficult emotions and thoughts he experienced during his bouts with PTSD. Not just about the war he fought in, but about other traumatic things that happened to him throughout his life. His books are also connected in one universe  — you’ll see mentions of Kilgore Trout throughout his books, and Elliott Rosewater and Billy Pilgrim as well. The man had a knack for writing the most bizarre stories and somehow managing to connect them all in a logical timeline/universe."

goldenlion71

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19.And finally: "IDGAF if people find this a cliche or try hard answer, but The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It stopped me cold when I first read it that NOBODY wins, nobody’s a good guy, this world is so beautiful and unreal, and that was the point of the book."

Cover of "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald with a stylized face over a cityscape

"That’s the gut punch for me every time, and I love the book for it."

siobhans4c1ab44c7

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Out of all the books you've read, which one had the biggest emotional impact on you? Share your answers in the comments!

Note: Some responses have been edited for length/clarity.