All My Favorite Books Are About Grief and Loss …

All my favorite books are about grief and loss

Are really ALL my favorite books about grief and loss? Well, no. That was a gross exaggeration in order to make the title of this post a little more clickbait-y. But that doesn’t change the fact that A LOT of them are and since I’ve promised a post like this for almost a year on social media now, I thought I should finally go ahead, sit down and actually write it.

First, I want to manage expectations! Not all of these books will necessarily be tearjerkers, not all of them will have grief or loss as a main theme, but simply as some aspect of the story. I’m going to try and do my best to categorize everything in a way that makes sense to you all.

Loss of a Parent or Parental Figure

It’s a “common” thing to explore the loss of a parent or guardian in books. It’s something the majority of people have to face eventually, even if it will always feel too soon regardless. I have prepared recommendations for kids, young adults and adults alike.

Books featuring parental loss or the loss of a guardian such as "A Monster Calls", "In the Wild Light", "The Dead Romantics", "This Time Tomorrow" and "Carrie Soto Is Back"

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls was published as a book for children, but every age group can greatly profit from it in my humble opinion. Seeing someone you love suffer and wanting that suffering to end while also not wanting to let them go at all is a mix of emotions no one would be able to deal with cleanly. Sprinkled with a bit of fantasy, this was touching to the bone. (Also available as a movie, if that’s more your thing.)

Check out my review HERE.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner knows how to pull my heartstrings. He did amazing with his debut The Serpent King and I enjoyed Goodbye Days as well, but his YA novel In the Wild Light really has my whole heart. It didn’t start out as a book about grief at all and I wouldn’t say that’s the main messaging as it’s mostly a coming-of-age tale, but I could relate to many struggles the main character had to face. Namely, being away from your loved ones when (you think) they might need you most.

Check out my review HERE.

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Ashley Poston is a gem of a writer and I will read her books gladly any day of the week. Ghosts and paranormal activities feature heavily in the book overall, but it was the loss of the main character’s father that constantly had me in tears. I have to point out though that The Dead Romantics isn’t a sad book, it’s written with lightness and a lot of humor. But I still found authentic moments of genuine grief and the disorientation that comes with it in there, appreciating the vulnerability sprinkled in.

Check out my review HERE.

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

In this time travel novel, Emma Straub dealt with the actual loss of her father in a very meta way. I know it’s not a book that works for everyone, but it sure worked for me. It’s about needing more time with the people we love and sometimes making very selfish and irrational decisions when faced with the possibility of running out of time with them.

Check out my review HERE.

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid is a phenomenal writer and we all know it. Carrie Soto Is Back is her latest release and one I was completely enamored by. I couldn’t put it down! Again, grief isn’t the main theme of the book, but without spoiling too much, it is an integral part of why the story plays out the way it does.

Check out my review HERE.

Breezy Books with a Sprinkle of Grief

Grief takes up many shapes and forms. Sometimes it incapacitates you for amounts of times you cannot fathom, sometimes it’s a companion in life as you try and move on. The following books all have elements of grief and loss in them, but they aren’t meant to be just tearjerkers. These are some “lighter” reads.

Breezy books with a sprinkle of grief such as "The Summer of Broken Rules", "Love, Lists and Fancy Ships" and "Words in Deep Blue"

The Summer of Broken Rules by K. L. Walther

In this one, the main character always spends the summer with friends and family at a vacationing place in Martha’s Vineyard. However, this is the first year she attends without her sister and the reminder of who she has lost is around every corner. BUT there’s also new love, a very fun game of “assassin” and time for healing.

Check out my review HERE.

Love, Lists and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Don’t you just hate it when you have a bucket list to finish, but you have to cancel your vacation and take care of your nieces for the summer? Well, there’s a reason all those plans were foiled, because a family tragedy will do that. Yet, there’s still time for a cute new neighbor and finishing a certain list.

Check out my review HERE.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

It’s been a while since I’ve read this one and I know for a fact that the main character has lost a family member. However, I also remember this being really cute and a special treat for all book lovers out there.

Check out my review HERE.

Books That Utterly Destroyed Me feat. Loss

I said loss, because yes, we shall talk about death with these examples as well, but sometimes we mourn other things than life. This list is not so singular after all …

Books featuring loss that emotionally destroyed me such as "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow", "Beartown" and "The Light Between Worlds"

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Since I’ve read this book only recently, the wound is still fresh. Mainly Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is about the special relationship between Sadie and Sam, but they face a multitude of hardships throughout their lives – including loss. The longer I think about it, the more it feels like certain trauma was just included for the sake of shock and worsening the situation. I still bawled my eyes out though. I felt that loss with them.

Check out my review HERE.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown is a phenomenal book, but a hard, hard read. I’ve included it in this section as it mostly deals with the loss of innocence and grieving a life that is no longer an option. Sometimes a traumatic event changes everything and that’s what happened to the small town ice hockey team and the people their lives touched. It’s a story I carry with me a lot.

Check out my review HERE.

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Children escaping to magical lands to deal with hardship is nothing new. Neither are stories about them coming back from said far away realms and having to deal with that fact. I find The Light Between Worlds is one of the best examples of such a story, as it is set in the adulthood of the siblings, who went on that Narnia-esque adventure. They’ve lost years of their lives, the agency they’ve gotten so used to and some of them … even a spark of joy in their life. The ending can be interpreted in different ways.

Check out my review HERE.

Non-Fiction Books About Loss

While this list mostly contained fiction books, I don’t see why I shouldn’t add some non-fiction as well. Some might say they hit even harder due to them being real life accounts.

Non-fiction books about loss such as "I'm Glad my Mom Died", "Crying in H Mart" and "Love Is a Mix Tape"

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

When I’m Glad My Mom Died first released, it felt like everyone and their mother (no pun intended) was reading it. I didn’t expect this celebrity memoir to be so vulnerable and authentic, but it really hit hard. Relationships with parents can be difficult, but McCurdy painted an understandable picture of her conflicted feelings, the love and pain her mother brought into her life. You’ll definitely understand the title of the book by the end of it all.

Check out my review HERE.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

While also about a complicated mother-daughter-relationship, Crying in H Mart is filled with so much more warmth than the previous book in this list. Your heart will ache for Zauner’s loss and depending on your own relationship with your mother, you might rethink some things or just plain want to hug her. On a side note, I would recommend you not read this book on an empty stomach. There’s a lot of mention about food, because food is love and culture and community.

Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

If it hadn’t been for one of my reading experiments, I doubt I would have picked up Love Is a Mix Tape, but I’m glad I did. Through playlists and the songs on them the author takes us on a nostalgic journey through his life and the loss of his wife. See, I don’t always just pick books about dead parents … Anyway, it could have used a clearer narrative through the memories and music that was chosen at times, but it was still a beautiful tribute to a loved one.

Check out my review HERE.


I still have some more books up my sleeve, so if you would like to read about more recs along the lines of what’s above, let me know! What did you think about my choices? Do books revolving around grief and loss pull you in as well? Let’s chat!

18 thoughts on “All My Favorite Books Are About Grief and Loss …

  1. I’ve read several of these (Backman, Crowly, Ness, Poston, TJR, McCurdy) and they were fantastic books. When I think of grief and loss, I automatically go to Bright Side by Kim Holden, then the follow up titled Gus. Then, When It Rains by Lisa DeJong, All In Duet by Emma Scott, Left Drowning by Jessica Park.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I realized a while ago that all my favorite books have main characters that feel extremely uncomfortable and…same lol.

    I didn’t read A Monster Calls but I saw the movie and the ending BROKE me. I sobbed for what felt like hours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post so much! As you know, this isn’t a theme I naturally seek out – I tend to avoid it, when I can, actually, ahah, but I have read and loved 2 out of the 3 lighter books you recommend, so YAY me ahah! The 3rd one is on my TBR, so that’s another win. Words in Deep Blue was such an amazing read, I love it so very much. ❤ I still have the Light Between Worlds on my TBR and I’m curious about the concept, but I haven’t felt ready emotionally to read it, yet, ahah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad the post is well received, I might actually have to do a follow up post on it!
      I don’t know why I seek out these books in particular, but I do love them so much haha if you ever feel ready, I think you’d enjoy some more on this list as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a wonderful and eclectic list! I think so many of these are wonderful (words in deep blue, carrie soto, monster calls, I’m glad my mom died, light between worlds). And I’m especially curious about tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much!! Glad we agree on so many and I really hope you will enjoy whichever others you might pick up. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow was a weird one for me. In the beginning, I thought it was SO pretentious, but then it wrecked me.

      Like

  5. i havent read any of the books on your list (well except getting through about 30% of crying in h mart before my hold hit the deadline AND IVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO FIND IT SINCE) although ive heard of most of them before. look the light between worlds is pretty much the only book on your list that ive NEVER EVER heard even the smollest bit about, BUT ITS ALSO SOMEHOW THE ONE I WANT TO READ MOST. you saying “set in the adulthood of the siblings, who went on that Narnia-esque adventure” IS ACTUALLY A DEAL BREAKER. I NEED. i also cant wait for carrie soto because tjr’s a genius AND ALSO THE DEAD ROMANTICS. I SHALL READ ANYTHING ASHLEY POSTON WRITES OKAY. i love this so much AND WOULD OBVIOUSLY BE UP FOR A PART 2!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • INTERESTING that The Light Between Worlds caught your attention. It’s on the verge between YA and adult I would say, as half the people are still on the younger side, but I just loved that book. Sometimes it haunts me a little bit. I hope you get a chance to read it and some more on this list, if you ever feel in the mood for sad

      Like

  6. Great Post! I finally read The Dead Romantics and it was SO good! I also loved the balance between grief, humor, and romance 💕 A Monster Calls always gets me emotional every time I reread it 😢 I’m definitely interested in reading Crying in H Mart, as I’ve heard such good things about it!

    Liked by 1 person

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