Top 15 Most Depressing Books

While I am still busy working away on building a website for a charity, I don’t want to totally ignore this blog, so here is a link to a rather good guide in the Daily Telegraph to the top 15 Most Depressing Books.  You may not agree with the choices, but it’s a well executed article and the comments from readers are fun too.

I think 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade is probably the worst with, “its repetitive catalogue of violent abuse – the defilements, the disfigurements – will turn your stomach”.  Whether Jude the Obscure should be in the list I’m not sure – I thought it was pretty good myself.  And surely Sebald’s Austerlitz should win the prize for THE most depressing read (although I feature it as one of my best ever books with a perhaps overlong article here).

The charity website seems to be taking me ages to build.  I’ve created 35 pages, but with a workers in Britain, Peru and Tanzania who all need to see the drafts and make comments, the logistics of getting approvals for all the items are not that simple.  It’s very rewarding work though and I’ve learned huge amounts about some quite tekkie topics like PHP scripts, sliding photo panels and cascading style sheets.  I think I’ve got another month or so’s work yet, but hope to publish a couple of book reviews in the next fortnight.

Down on the South Coast we’ve had some pretty stormy weather lately but there have been some good days between the gales and here are a couple of photos taken from the beaches near here (they’re watermarked Green Explorer because that’s my username on a photo-sharing site).

I hope everyone is enjoying life and reading lots of good books.  Having just finished quite a serious new book by Tim Pears, I’m now having a great time with Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole – The Prostrate  Years which is very funny indeed.

13 thoughts on “Top 15 Most Depressing Books

  1. Jude the Obscure, Beloved, Never let me go, We need to talk about Kevin, The road, The bell jar. Hmmm, I’ve read a few of the Daily Mail’s Top 15. There are a few there I haven’t heard of too. I would have to add Tess of the D’Urbervilles, though I suppose Hardy should only be allowed one. Dare I say I “love” depressing books. They really tend to get to the heart of the matter. Many people call Rohinton Mistry’s A fine balance depressing but it does depend a little on how you view the ending.

    My next choices to read from those in the list would be the Gissing and Sebald. I have read Gissing’s New Grub Street and loved it. Have always meant to read more. I have the Sebald here – having read The emigrants – but haven’t got to it.

    Love the photos, of course, Tom.


    • Hi Sue, well, I think I agree with you – I thought Never Let Me Go was excellent. Look at Thomas Mann’s books – all depressing but still classics all. Rohinton’s A Fine Balance was excellent of course, but a little too long for my liking (although I’ve read longer books).


  2. I love lists of books. This one is obviously a bit unusual. If I were creating this list I would need to include Nineteen Eighty -Four by George Orwell. Without a doubt it was the most depressing piece of fiction for me.


  3. I thought the Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini was really depressing ,replete with events and incidents of anguish.Not that it should deter anyone from reading it, as it remains a very meaningful book.And ofcourse,the book was better than the film.


  4. I just read one to add to the list of the most depressing – The Drinker by Hans Fallada. It is the somewhat autobiographical fictional account of a man put in an asylum due to his violent drinking behavior.


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