Not too long ago we talked about the saddest books out there. But books that make us sad are not necessarily the most depressing books. There are pleasure to be had in melancholy, and when you pick up a book like The Notebook, it is billed as sad but you know that it’s also going to have a very sweet ending that ultimately makes you feel pretty good, unless you’re like me and it actually just made you cringe at just how sweet it got.
No, depressing books are books where you close the cover and just kind go…uhhhhhhhhh. Books that don’t hold your hand or make any pretense of helping you to have a better day.
I assume that there are things that depress you. They might not be the things that depress me, so as you look at this list, don’t take it as a suggestion that they aren’t worth reading or that there is no enjoyment to be had in them. Just not for me. It doesn’t mean the writing can’t be beautiful or the characters well-conceived. It just means that at the time I read them they didn’t do anything but deflate me.
- The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- I made it halfway through A Child Called It before deciding I couldn’t handle it
- Sophies’ Choice by William Styron
- House of Stairs by William Sleator (I eventually came to love this story)
- The Little Match Girl, a fairy tale I first read from Hans Christian Anderson
- Most of Thomas Hardy’s work
- Jimmy Corrigan The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
Agree? Disagree? Anything to add? Are you desperate to go try all of these?