5 Heart Breakring Stories That Broke Booktok’s Heart

If you walk into any bookstore (or store with books), chances are they’ll have a section promoting books trending on #BookTok. Surprisingly, you won’t find many brand-new titles on those tables; BookTok’s power to make books go viral is focused on older titles new readers happen to stumble across. 

But if you’re new to BookTok, tread carefully: these books are not for the faint of heart. For many readers, if a book doesn’t make them ugly sob by the end, it wastes their time. Research is mixed on whether crying is actually cathartic, but there’s no denying there’s something satisfying about a good book, even — or especially — if the book breaks your heart in the end. 

If you’re looking for BookTok-trending books to read next — or wondering what books to avoid — here are five to get you started. 

A Little Life by Hanya Yangihara

If you’ve been in TikTok or Instagram’s book spheres at all, you’ve probably seen a million posts about A Little Life by Hanyra Yanagihara. A polarizing title in the BookTok community, people either recommend this book wholeheartedly or warn readers to stay away because of how heartbreaking the story is. 

Following four classmates who move to New York City post-college, A Little Life explores the bonds between the men as they struggle with trying to find success. Lost and broke, the one thing that seems to be holding them together is Jude, an enigmatic man with a traumatic past. 

A Little Life isn’t just a book about friendship, though; it’s an argument for the validity of the family found, and one that we have to warn you again will probably break you by the end. 

The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

TikTok user adridiaries included The Way I Used to Be in their viral video of books they’ll “never recover from.” Reminiscent of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Way I Used To Be follows Eden, who has kept quiet about being raped by her brother’s best friend when she was a freshman. 

But just because Eden’s kept silent about what happened doesn’t mean she’s forgotten. Broken into four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—the story explores not just the complexities of being a teenager, but how to navigate a world you don’t feel safe in. 

The Way I Used to Be also digs into how consuming and raw trauma can be, making this Young Adult book an important, heartbreaking book to read for any adult. 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles is not the same story of the Trojan War that you studied in school. For many readers on BookTok, it’s the first or only book that’s made them cry. 

In their reaction video, margoeaux shared that they have “never cried bc of a book i am so unwell,” while still crying. A comment on the video Lars.Books posted reads: “I’LL NEVER GET OVER THIS BOOK BUT I’D SELL MY SOUL TO READ IT FOR THE FIRST TIME AGAIN.” 

Equal parts adventure and love story, The Song of Achilles is a reimagination of Homer’s The Iliad that breathes new life into ancient Greece and the Age of Heroes. 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

When a poet writes a novel, it will make you cry. At least that’s true for Ocean Vyong and his debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous — a book that has had TikTok in ugly sobbing since 2019. 

Written as a letter from a son to his mother, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous explores violence, racism, and masculinity in America, and what those mean for someone straddling the line between their American present and Vietnamese past. 

Through Little Dog, the speaker of the story, Vyong tries to answer which is worse: staying silent or being unheard. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Any of Taylor Jenkins Reid's books come with a warning that they’ll break your heart, but nothing hurts as much as reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

In the time-lapse she took of herself reading the entire book in one day, TikTok user katiiemcdougal was crying by the time she reached the end of the book and captioned her video, saying The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was “of the best books” she’s ever read. 

The book follows Monique Grant, a reporter with no credentials or credibility who has been asked to ghostwrite the memoir of legendary actress Evelyn Hugo. But what Evelyn delivers is a story that reveals a heartbreaking story with bombshells that explain exactly why she picked Monique to write her story. 

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.