Often the saddest lives deliver the most powerful reading experiences. Sometimes we want sombre books because we are in low spirits and there is a sense of comfort and belonging of living amongst other heartsick souls for the duration of the novel. Other times, life is good and we feel able to cope with the melancholy or even downright despair of others, knowing we will be deeply touched by their experiences and their stories will leave a lasting impression. Whether you prefer books set in a world yet to come or firmly in the here and now, sorrow has no borders, bereavement no year or century. Enjoy browsing this selection – from the wistful to the disconsolate – and remember, other people feel sad too and knowing that can make you feel better.