- Away by Amy Bloom. I still have 10 or 15 pages to go in this, so don't spoil it for me. I was going to finish it last night but I had to put it down and cry myself to sleep, basically. Goddamn this book is sad. It's about a young Russian woman whose family is killed in a pogrom. She starts to make a new life for herself in New York but then hears from a cousin that her daughter is still alive. It seems possible/probable that the cousin is lying but she sets off to Siberia, alone, anyway, and much horrific bullshit befalls her on the way. Key sad quote: Her friend Yaakov asks why she insists on taking this death journey; is it because the girl is her belonging? Horrified, Lillian replies, "No. Not that she is mine. That I am hers." Moms! (B.T.Dubbs, this book has a lot of sex in it.)
- The House of Mirth. I was within 20 pages of the end of this when my plane landed; I actually wished the flight was longer so I could finish it and cry in peace.
- Gone With the Wind. The part where Scarlett is crying out for Rhett but no one tells him and he doesn't come; the part where Melanie dies, of course (uh, spoiler alert); and probably the end too.
- Arrowsmith (Sinclair Lewis)
- East of Eden (Steinbeck). I never finished this but there was a really tragic part in the first 100 pages.
Here are some other books that were sad but didn't provoke actual tears, for whatever reason (maybe I just wasn't in the crying mood):
- Mrs. Bridge (Evan S. Connell)
- Rabbit, Run (Updike)
- Jacob Have I Loved (YA book by Kathrine Paterson)
- Probably any books about violence against Jews (The White Hotel, The Fixer, etc.)