The Most Depressing Book You've Ever Read

 Pages PREV 1 2 3

What's with all these old threads being necro'd lately?

I find that several of these works already mentioned not sad, but endlessly boring.

anything by edgar allen poe

Not related, but what the hell is your avatar? Is it a Weasly twin with a ridiculous hat?

Anyway, the most depressing book ever is this monstrosity:

Fuck this book! I don't care what you are, young/old, black/white, soulful/soulless, this will make you cry big fat tears all day long.

"The Road" - Cormac McCarthy. The story of man and his son's trek towards the coast in post-apocalyptic America. Absolutely grueling.

This fucker right here.

Dear God, if you're not prepared for that book, it can have you in tears on the first few pages.


For me, it has to be 1984 by George Orwell. It takes the proud place of the only book to ever nearly reduce me to tears with its' ending. It really leaves you feeling that there is no hope for the world.

I have to agree on 1984, off the top of my head its the most depressing thing I ever read. I didn't go all the way to tears(not on that book anyway) but it was really disheartening. I tried to figure out a way that someone could actually go all the way and overthrow Oceania but I couldn't find it. Even the ones that seemed plausible always ended with the other two countries eating it in it's weakened state.

Lovecraft's works. The idea that not only do we not understand the universe, but our tiny brains are in fact incapable of understanding it in any meaningful way, that our whole species is grist for the mill, dust beneath the feet of beings so ancient and callous it drives us crazy just to see them..... yeah.

Ice and Fire is pretty depressing. The good guys? Yeah, they lose. Then they die.

I read a book in high school about people in (Australia I think?) waiting to die slowly of radiation sickness after a massive nuclear exchange elsewhere on the globe. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do, the fallout was going to kill everyone eventually. It was called On The Beach if I recall correctly.

The Grapes of Wrath. Depressing as hell -- takes place in the Depression, after all -- and all the more depressing because that stuff actually happened. The Joads were fictional but their situation wasn't.

Frankenstein is right up there, or perhaps right down there is a better term. Mad science, crimes against god and nature, murder, loss, tragedy self-inflicted and otherwise.... at the end everyone is either miserable or dead.

The Amber Spyglass. Such a good series, such a sad ending.

Any book written by Gabriel García Márquez qualifies. Honorable mentions to Memorias de mis putas tristes and Cien años de soledad. I would join in with McCarthy's The Road but the ending's considerably more upbeat than Blood Meridian, where EVERYTHING turns crap.

Witty Name Here:

So, out of all the books I've read, what is the most depressing to me? Frankenstein.

Honestly, many people pity the monster, but out of all the characters in Frankenstein, I feel the saddest for the good doctor. Most of the time Frankenstein is made out to be some cackling madman, but the original book gives him quite a different portrayal. Frankenstein isn't some madman, he's a brilliant and idealistic young mind. It isn't power that motivates Frankenstein, just a thirst for knowledge, a desire to change the world and do good... And then when he finally completes his project, he makes one mistake, one perfectly normal mistake: He is absolutely terrified of what he created. This leaves a monster out wandering the world that may very well be doing anything and he had no power to stop it.

I think that readers tend to sympathize with the 'monster' more than Victor because

gary the red shirt:
either "of mice and men" or "the grapes of wrath". Steinbeck just has a way with making bad stuff happen to good people. image

From a meta point of view I'd agree with Grapes of Wrath because I consider it a poorly written piece of garbage.

From a story point of view? The Sun Also Rises.

Either 1984 or Or Mice and Men.

The Giver.

"Barranca abajo", roughly translated as "downhill", its the story of a family that loses everything and has to survive in increasingly depressing situations. At the end, the protagonist

Wow, I've read almost all of these books. I particularly enjoyed The Road and 1984. Didn't even find the latter depressing so much as "upsetting".

I'd have to go with "A Fine Balance" as the most depressing book I've ever read, and until someone can adequately demonstrate otherwise, the most depressing book ever written. It's a beautiful, brilliantly written book, but DO NOT READ IT unless you like having your soul crushed.

#1 "All quiet on the western front" by Erich Remarque
#2 Tie between "The Idiot" and "War and Peace", both by Fyodor Dostoevsky
#3 "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Victor Hugo (sometimes it seems like Disney deliberately picks the least children oriented tales around for inspiration)

I can't remember what it was called, but it was about a teenage girl with terminal cancer. There is only so much fun and happiness you can have with that premise.

Survivor Type By stephen king (short story)
eating parts of himself
A disgruntled surgeon survies on a desert island by using drugs, keeping a journal ....and eating parts of himself

I have no mouth and I must scream(short story)

one of the most depressing stories in the world about being kept alive for eternity just to be tourtured, while begging to die.

I implore you all to read these both online, they are quite short

The Serpent Club. Definitely not a murder mystery I enjoyed in general due to the protagonist being too drunk and cynical and sour at everyone to be even remotely likeable, but the ending includes him losing his wife, him losing his job, and the villains (a powerful politician and his asshole son) getting away with the murder of the young girl that started the whole story. Yes, you read right. It might have actually gone better if he'd never tried to learn the killer's identity at all!

Sort of similar is Book 5 of Star Wards Legacy of the Force, Sacrifice. As a long-time fan of the EU, by the end of it everything was so horribly messed up I wasn't sure what to think. And this is from someone who really enjoyed Traitor and Shatterpoint, perhaps the most gruesome books in the entire franchise.

Tess of the d'Ubervilles

I swear, if I had to describe the book in two words, it would be "Murphy's Law". It's described as a "naturalist" piece of literature, so it's just one giant "life sucks and bad things will happen to you no matter how good of a person you are" kind of deal. It's almost comedic in a dark way because of just how improbable all the horrible events that happen to the character are, especially since they are no fault of her own, except for maybe the protagonist's one attempt to essentially take control of her life, but *surprise* that ends terribly as well.

Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins. Good. God. Henry Rollins can be exceptionally inspiring, and hilarious, when he wants to be, especially during his "spoken word" stand-up routines. Black Coffee Blues is not one of those moments. There's a segment of nothing but horrible things happening, often to people who don't deserve it.

You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of Wisdom Sure to Ruin Your Day by Scott Dikkers. I don't know why in the nine hells we had this in my house, but I made the mistake of reading it one day. I couldn't help laughing at just how over the top it was, but damn, it still did what it set out to do.

Well i'll go with the flow and say 1984 was the most "Bleak" book I've ever read, both in content and the writing style. Just so cold.

However I found The Sparrow to be very depressing as well. The extent of the main character's degradation and fall is quite powerful

On the beach. A nuclear war kills everything north of the equator and the radiation spreads down south to kill off everyone in the southern hemisphere. The book is from the point of view of a group of Australian military personnel and the few survivors of the USN who attempt to find some hope. There are no riots, people do not suddenly attack one another and everyone is perfectly decent until their last breath.

It is so crushing because it robs us of the catharsis so often present in apocalyptic literature that we find when the suddenly savage humanity is killed off. We can cheer when Mel gibson or Denzel Washington kill scavangers because they are brutal and we can clap when a crack opens up in LA because they were desperately selfish and did not help each other. Here, we see quietly decent people who work together as best they can and do their best to keep society functioning even with no hope. They are everything people hope to be and they die badly because of choices they have no control over. By the last few chapters, I was having to take lengthy breaks in between paragraphs.


#2 Tie between "The Idiot" and "War and Peace", both by Fyodor Dostoevsky

War and Peace was written by Leo Tolstoy.

As for me, I can't think of a huge number of really depressing books I've read, but like many people the first to leap to mind was 1984. I recently read 'Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe (he actually died just a couple of weeks ago, but I was coincidentally reading the book for university), and that had a pretty miserable ending as

Johnny Impact:
I read a book in high school about people in (Australia I think?) waiting to die slowly of radiation sickness after a massive nuclear exchange elsewhere on the globe. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do, the fallout was going to kill everyone eventually. It was called On The Beach if I recall correctly.

^this. It was the only book I ever read that made me choke up.

Also completely by accident this is the exact same topic and answer I posted my very first post in back in 2008.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, a book focused around the lives of two women in Afghanistan.

If fan fics count then I'll have to go with My Little Dashie.
But, if it doesn't count for some strange reason, either because it is a fic or has to do with MLP, then I'll say Of Mice and Men.

Strange. I found 1984 to be really morose, depressing, and stifling in its atmosphere, but it could never reduce me to tears. I just didn't have that deep of an emotional connection with its characters or their problems.

For anyone interested in fantasy, the Malazan series has some really sad and tragic moments to it, the kind that put even Song of Ice and Fire to shame.

But most recently I was reading a book called Manchurian Legacy for class, a memoir of a Japanese girl living as a colonist in Manchuria in the 1930s and 40s, and her life before, during, and after WW2. Surprisingly enough, it's one of the best things I've ever read, and made cry in a few spots, and I'm not certain I can even explain why. It isn't a depressing book, but it is very moving and powerful.

the walking dead.

Seriously that thing is relentlessly miserable.

 Pages PREV 1 2 3

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked