Saddest book you have read?

Saddest book you have read?

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Discussion

Esceptico

Original Poster:

4,442 posts

76 months

Friday 9th April
quotequote all
I’ve been teaching myself Japanese for a while. I had already read some manga but was looking to progress to a proper book without pictures. Was in my local library and came across a book that was an eye-witness account of the Hiroshima bombing. Boy of about 11 was 700 m from ground zero (from memory I think it said that only about ten people within a kilometre of ground zero survived).

Obviously I wasn’t expecting it to be a fun but even so it was quite devastating. Even the parts before the bomb were hard as at that point the population were suffering badly because of the war. The writing was very matter of fact but that seemed to make it worse. At one point his grandparents have to stop him from killing himself with a kitchen knife as he couldn’t take the pain anymore. The next chapter was titled, “mother dies”. The following “little sister dies” (poisoned by her mother’s milk).

His survival seems a matter of luck. He was in the middle of a crowded train when the bomb hit and because he was a child and surrounded by adults they think he was shielded somewhat from the radiation. He also had a bad infestation of worms, which he threw up, dead, a few days after the blast. They think that the worms may have absorbed some of radiation (as well as being exposed to the blast they then drank water contaminated with fall out).

What I hadn’t realised is that there were some people who survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

I’m glad I read the book as it gave a fascinating insight into it from a Japanese perspective but it was definitely the hardest book I’ve had to read.

Not sure if it was the most depressing book. 1984 still holds that title. Still a bit traumatised 40 years after first reading it. Read it again recently. Brilliant but bleak.

WolfAir

446 posts

102 months

Friday 9th April
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One of the saddest books i read was the story of a boy abused by, basically everyone. Sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally. But he still managed to live some sort of succesful life, had a decent business, family and kids.. i cant remember the name but i find myself thinking about it now and again.

As for your jap book OP, any chance theres an english version?

wisbech

1,973 posts

88 months

Friday 9th April
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"if This Is A Man" and "The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi. His experiences of Auschwitz.

“There is Auschwitz, and so there cannot be God.”


Esceptico

Original Poster:

4,442 posts

76 months

Friday 9th April
quotequote all
WolfAir said:
One of the saddest books i read was the story of a boy abused by, basically everyone. Sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally. But he still managed to live some sort of succesful life, had a decent business, family and kids.. i cant remember the name but i find myself thinking about it now and again.

As for your jap book OP, any chance theres an english version?
Not sure. Here is the ISBN for the Japanese version if that helps:

ISBN
9784092271661 (hbk.)
4092271662 (hbk.)

take-good-care-of-the-forest-dewey

1,582 posts

22 months

Friday 9th April
quotequote all
A Monster Calls. The book was sad enough in its own right... Then I found out about the story behind its development.

Edited by take-good-care-of-the-forest-dewey on Friday 9th April 05:17

Trophy Husband

3,412 posts

74 months

Friday 9th April
quotequote all
wisbech said:
"if This Is A Man" and "The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi. His experiences of Auschwitz.

“There is Auschwitz, and so there cannot be God.”

I second "If this is a man". Heartbreaking but a must read.
Primo Levi was tortured by his memories and experiences so much that he took his own life. IIRC.

selym

8,904 posts

138 months

Friday 9th April
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I think the book was called Voices From The Holocaust. It was devastating to read, even with everything we all know about the Holocaust.

Roofless Toothless

3,560 posts

99 months

Friday 9th April
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Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown. A history of North American indigenous people. One of the very few books I have been unable to finish.

putonghua73

572 posts

95 months

Thursday 15th April
quotequote all
Esceptico said:
I’ve been teaching myself Japanese for a while. I had already read some manga but was looking to progress to a proper book without pictures. Was in my local library and came across a book that was an eye-witness account of the Hiroshima bombing. Boy of about 11 was 700 m from ground zero (from memory I think it said that only about ten people within a kilometre of ground zero survived).

Obviously I wasn’t expecting it to be a fun but even so it was quite devastating. Even the parts before the bomb were hard as at that point the population were suffering badly because of the war. The writing was very matter of fact but that seemed to make it worse. At one point his grandparents have to stop him from killing himself with a kitchen knife as he couldn’t take the pain anymore. The next chapter was titled, “mother dies”. The following “little sister dies” (poisoned by her mother’s milk).

His survival seems a matter of luck. He was in the middle of a crowded train when the bomb hit and because he was a child and surrounded by adults they think he was shielded somewhat from the radiation. He also had a bad infestation of worms, which he threw up, dead, a few days after the blast. They think that the worms may have absorbed some of radiation (as well as being exposed to the blast they then drank water contaminated with fall out).

What I hadn’t realised is that there were some people who survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki!
Tsutomu Yamaguchi survived both. Difficult to say whether he was 'lucky'. On a business trip in Hiroshima and got caught up in the blast on his last day; eventually got back to Nagasaki and went to hospital. Left his hospital bed the next day, and went to the office (!). Whilst providing his Company Director with an explanation of what had happened, witnessed another blinding light as the other Atomic Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Twice in 3 days, he had been within 2 miles of an atomic blast and surivived.

Eric Mc

115,450 posts

232 months

Friday 23rd April
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Angela’s Ashes - unrelentingly depressing. I gave up part way through.

Wacky Racer

34,358 posts

214 months

Friday 23rd April
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irc

2,190 posts

103 months

Thursday 29th April
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For me it's 1914 by Lyn McDonald. RIP - googling the title I found out she died this week aged 91.

She wrote several histories of WW1 from the point of view of the combatants. The first I read was 1914 which covers the lead up to the war and the fighting up to Christmas.

It is a very good book in its own right based on first hand accounts oven to get by veterans.

What made it a sad book for me was it was my grandfather's story. In the Seaforth Territorials at the outbreak of war he was in France by October and on the Western Front until the end of the war. The only one of 4 brothers to get home.

He spoke a little about it. but this book takes you there.


https://www.amazon.co.uk/1914-Lyn-Macdonald/dp/071...

biggiles

1,013 posts

192 months

Thursday 29th April
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On a military theme:

The Secret Battle, by Herbert. Interesting foreword from Churchill.

And then contrast Jean Giorno's wonderful "The Man Who Planted Trees" with this translation from his Verdun experiences https://tyruiop.org/giono.html (Recherche de la pureté, from the French by a Redditor https://www.reddit.com/r/history/comments/7o5yvz/f...

Not easy reading.

bristolbaron

3,056 posts

179 months

Thursday 29th April
quotequote all
WolfAir said:
One of the saddest books i read was the story of a boy abused by, basically everyone. Sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally. But he still managed to live some sort of succesful life, had a decent business, family and kids.. i cant remember the name but i find myself thinking about it now and again.

As for your jap book OP, any chance theres an english version?
Likely to be Dave Pelzer’s A child called ‘it’, there were follow ons - The lost boy and A man named Dave.

Trophy Husband

3,412 posts

74 months

Thursday 29th April
quotequote all
bristolbaron said:
WolfAir said:
One of the saddest books i read was the story of a boy abused by, basically everyone. Sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally. But he still managed to live some sort of succesful life, had a decent business, family and kids.. i cant remember the name but i find myself thinking about it now and again.

As for your jap book OP, any chance theres an english version?
Likely to be Dave Pelzer’s A child called ‘it’, there were follow ons - The lost boy and A man named Dave.
This.
Running with Scissors is another good read. Bathos aplenty. Sad but funny in many ways.

perdu

4,873 posts

166 months

Tuesday 4th May
quotequote all
In fiction the saddest, most desolate book ever.

"On The Beach" Nevil Shute.

I know I will never read that book again although some of his others are inspirational such as "Trustee From The Toolroom".

Tim330

903 posts

179 months

Tuesday 4th May
quotequote all
perdu said:
In fiction the saddest, most desolate book ever.

"On The Beach" Nevil Shute.

I know I will never read that book again although some of his others are inspirational such as "Trustee From The Toolroom".
I read that as a late teen (nearly forty now). I found it very disturbing at the end and would even more so now I have a young child.

biggiles

1,013 posts

192 months

Wednesday 5th May
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Tim330 said:
perdu said:
In fiction the saddest, most desolate book ever.

"On The Beach" Nevil Shute.

I know I will never read that book again although some of his others are inspirational such as "Trustee From The Toolroom".
I read that as a late teen (nearly forty now). I found it very disturbing at the end and would even more so now I have a young child.
I've just remembered that one, err "thanks". What a contrast to his A Town Like Alice!

Jake899

96 posts

11 months

Wednesday 5th May
quotequote all
Agree with Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, an absolute tragic account of the European conquest of America from the perspective of the Native Americans. I have read it probably 10 times and I still am moved by it. As far as fiction goes, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, an account of a young Englishman in France before, during and after the first world war. Harrowing, tender, just wonderful.

manwithbeard

58 posts

132 months

Wednesday 12th May
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Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy.

I shed tears.

Although all the Hardy novels I have read are at the best bitter-sweet when not downright tragic.

Far from the Madding Crowd is the one I enjoyed most.

The 1960s film starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp, Peter Finch and directed by John Schlesinger, filmed on location in Dorset and Wiltshire, is a very good adaption of the novel.

Its well worth a watch.