10 Best Nicholas Sparks Books To Read When You Want To Cry

Nicholas Sparks is an American novelist from Omaha, Nebraska.

He has written 23 published novels, and every single one of them has become a New York Times bestseller.

10 Best Nicholas Sparks Books To Read When You Want To Cry

They are all romance novels and are also classified as romantic dramas.

He draws on inspiration from his family members and their lives for some of the stories, and also uses ideas of his own.

So far, 11 of Nicholas Sparks’s novels have been turned into major motion pictures.

Nicholas gets heavily involved in the process of creating the movies – as well as being an author, he is also a screenwriter and a producer.

His books and his films are incredibly popular. Readers find it easy to connect to the characters because they are well-developed and relatable.

The stories are gripping yet slow-burning, building the tension between the characters to make the conclusion more satisfying.

Nicholas Sparks may be a romance writer, but his books also cover a variety of themes including grief, domestic violence, degenerative disease, and various aspects and challenges of family life.

If you are interested in reading Nicholas Sparks, here is a list of his top 10 books.

You should read these books first, and if you like them you can read the rest of his collection.

Top 10 Nicholas Sparks Books

Here are 10 of the best books by Nicholas Sparks to get you started. You should read these books first before moving on to read the rest of his collection

The Notebook

The Notebook

The Notebook is not just one of the best books written by Nicholas Sparks, it is considered one of the best modern romance books in Western culture.

It is very highly rated on Amazon and has been incredibly popular since it was published in 1996.

The Notebook follows the love story between Noah and Allie – teenage sweethearts who go their separate ways after a summer of blossoming romance.

Years later, they are both at very different stages of their lives, but find themselves thinking about each other and what could have been.

Is it too late to find out? Is their love long enough to stand the test of time, and perhaps even longer?

The Notebook is set in North Carolina which is the perfect backdrop for romantic scenes and wistful moments.

The book was turned into a movie that was released in 2004 starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.

It was filmed mostly on location in North Carolina and is very true to the book in terms of storyline and the interactions between the characters.


  • Series – The Notebook is book 1 of 2. The second book in the series is called The Wedding and is set in the same family but decades later. If you enjoy reading ‘The Notebook’ you should definitely consider reading The Wedding as well.
  • Theme – One of the reasons why this book is so engrossing is that it features many different types of love – familial love, young love, love that wasn’t meant to last, and love that lasts a lifetime. It also shows how the love between two people can change over time, and develop from one type of love to another.
  • Emotive – The feelings between the characters are complex and deep, which makes the story very emotive and moving.


  • Pace – Some readers found that the romance between Noah and Allie didn’t have enough tension.

Safe Haven

Safe Haven

Safe Haven was published in 2010 and is one of Nicholas Sparks’s most gripping stories.

It is well-paced, revealing just the right amount of information in each chapter to let the mystery gradually unravel until it reaches a crescendo.

This makes it the perfect book to read in one sitting, as you won’t want to put it down.

Safe Haven is set in a small coastal town in North Carolina.

The arrival of a mysterious woman, Katie, raises some questions – nobody knows where she came from or why she decided to stay.

Katie tries to keep her distance and not form friendships with the locals, but this is difficult when faced with classic Southern hospitality.

Reluctantly, Katie befriends Alex, a local shop owner, and Jo, her neighbor who helps Katie to navigate the town and its people.

As she begins to warm up to her new friends, she discovers that Alex is a widow and he introduces her to his children.

A strong bond begins to form, but could it be undone when Katie’s past finally catches up with her?


  • Theme – This book is all about getting a second chance at love. It’s not always straightforward and people have baggage – whether it is difficult ex-partners or children from a previous relationship – but love conquers all if you’re willing to let it.
  • Movie – If you loved the book then you’re in luck. This book was turned into a movie in 2013. Katie and Alex are played by Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, and the cinematography really captures the natural beauty of the North Carolina coast.


  • Predictable – There are some parts of the plot that are quite predictable.

The Best Of Me

The Best of Me

The Best Of Me is a beautiful and moving story about giving love a second chance and re-writing the past.

The main characters are Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole – high school sweethearts who came from very different backgrounds.

Their love seemed to defy the odds, but a series of events during their senior year came between them.

25 years later, they are reunited at the funeral of an old friend, Tuck.

Their lives have gone in very different directions – nothing like what they had imagined when they were in high school.

There is still a lot of chemistry between them – their feelings for each other seem just as intense as they were all those years ago.

As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions left for them by Tuck, they discover secrets about him and their shared past.

With a new perspective, they begin to question the forces that tore them apart and the decisions they made afterward – but has life given them a second chance at love?

This amazing book was turned into a brilliant film that was released in 2014.

Dawson Cole is played by James Marsden and Amanda Collier is played by Michelle Monaghan.

In the flashback scenes, the main characters are played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato.

The film does a good job of capturing the intense emotions of the book.


  • Unpredictable – This book has unexpected twists and turns that will keep you hooked until the very end. The characters are well-developed and their interactions are interesting – layered with tension and unspoken feelings.
  • Emotive – The setting of a funeral adds a touch of melancholy which is well balanced by the mystery and intrigue of uncovering secrets from the past.


  • Pace – This is not a fast-paced book. Some people might find it too slow.

The Lucky One

The Lucky One

The Lucky One is an interesting love story that brings together two unlikely characters. Logan is a US Marine on tour in Iraq.

He finds a photograph of a woman buried in the dirt and keeps it with him as a lucky charm.

After surviving a brush with death, winning a poker game, and other fortunate events, he begins to believe that the photograph is actually helping him.

Logan returns home to Colorado, but can’t stop thinking about the woman in the photograph.

He decides to look for her, so he can find some way to repay the good fortune she has brought him. His journey brings him to the Blue Ridge Mountain region of North Carolina where he finds Elizabeth, a divorced mother.

He is immediately overwhelmed by strong feelings towards her, so decides not to tell her about the photograph he found of her in Iraq.

Logan and Elizabeth develop a strong and passionate connection. But as time goes on and Logan continues to keep his secret, the truth could end up tearing them apart.

This book is a great example of an unlikely love story and a secret that gets worse the longer you keep it.

It is well written with plenty of tension tied in with tender moments between the characters.

The Lucky One was turned into a film in 2012 starring Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling.

It was a big hit with fans of Nicholas Sparks and is a great adaptation of the book.


  • Theme – One of the great things about this book is the nitty gritty element that comes from Logan being a US Marine – he is adapting to life at home after his tour and this impacts his connections and relationships. This gives his character an extra layer of complexity. Elizabeth has also been impacted by war so it is a connection they share.
  • Romance – The romance between the characters has tension and passion.


  • Intense – Some of the descriptions of the war might be too intense for some readers.

Dear John

Dear John

Dear John is a different type of love story – a lot of the communication between the main characters is done via letter.

John is a high school dropout who joins the military. He feels like his life doesn’t have any purpose – until he meets Savannah.

She is the girl of his dreams, and they have an instant and undeniable connection. John has one final tour before he can leave the military.

Savannah agrees to wait for him and John is looking forward to settling down with her when he returns.

John and Savannah’s plans change when 9/11 shocks the nation. John’s strong sense of duty leads him to re-enlist in the military, but Savannah can’t wait forever.

When she moves on and finds someone else. John receives the type of letter you never want to read.

How can he return home when the love of his life is in love with someone else?

The film adaptation of Dear John starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried was released in 2010, four years after the publication of the book.

The characters were very well represented by the cast members.


  • Different – This is not a typical romance story with a predictable ending. It is a story that explores unrequited love, love that doesn’t overcome all odds, and love that maybe just wasn’t meant to be.
  • Emotive – This book deals with emotive themes of war and the difficulties of long-distance relationships.
  • Locations – Dear John features North Carolina as one of the main locations, but as John travels with the military there are many other places that are also featured in the book. This makes the narrative more interesting and also showcases the contrast between the lives of the two main characters.


  • Characters – Some readers found the main characters to be frustrating at times.

The Last Song

The Last Song

The Last Song is one of Nicholas Spark’s most well-known novels (after The Notebook) thanks to the high-profile case of the movie adaptation.

The film, released in 2012, starred Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth. The two actors fell in love during filming and later went on to get married (and then separated).

Whilst the film is amazing, you should definitely read the book as well. It is really well-written and has a wonderful story.

It is about 20-year-old Ronnie from New York. After three years she is still struggling to deal with her parent’s divorce.

She has been having anger management issues and her relationship with her parents is breaking down.

The family decided that Ronnie should spend the summer in North Carolina with her dad. Ronnie’s father is a retired concert pianist who is now a music teacher in a small coastal town.

As Ronnie learns to love the small-town life, she also forms connections with the locals including Will Blakelee.

She also learns more about her Dad as they work together on an art project for the local church. But most of all, Ronnie learns about herself.


  • Relatable – This book has many themes including music, love, loss, and the complicated relationships between parents and children over the years. This makes the story very relatable to many readers and tends to evoke quite an emotional response from lots of people.
  • Balanced – There are some heartbreaking moments, but they are balanced out by uplifting ones to create a very satisfying reader experience.
  • Characters- What stands out most about this book is how well Nicholas Sparks has captured the emotions of each character – you can really feel the ups and downs that each person is going through.


  • Pace – This book has a slower pace than some of the others.

A Walk To Remember

A Walk to Remember

A Walk To Remember is a coming-of-age romantic drama that was published in 1999.

The book became even more popular when it was made in a movie that premiered in 2002, starring Mandy Moore and Shane West.

A Walk To Remember is set in a small town in North Carolina. Landon Carter is looking back on his life, in particular his childhood sweetheart.

The majority of the story takes place in 1958 when he fell in love with Jamie, but also follows their life together as they get older.

One of the special things about this book is how different the characters are – Jamie and Landon are total opposites, and as they fall in love they need to learn about each other and how to deal with their differences.

Nicholas Sparks has said that A Walk To Remember was his favorite novel to write. This is mainly due to the characters.

Jamie was inspired by his sister, who met a man like Landon.

He couldn’t imagine settling down with a woman like her, but in the end, it was all he wanted.

Nicholas wanted people to understand his sister, who she was, and what sort of life she lived, as well as the relationship she had with her husband.


  • Emotive – This book will make you smile and cry. The tender, sweet moments will melt your heart.
  • Gripping – It keeps you hooked until the very end, totally invested in the emotions of the characters and what they are going through.


  • Sad – This is probably one of Nicholas Sparks’s saddest books.

The Wish

The Wish

The Wish is a beautiful story that is equal parts sad and uplifting.

The main character is Maggie, a successful photographer who runs a gallery in New York and travels the world taking photographs.

When she receives a troubling medical diagnosis she struggles to come to terms with the impact it will have on her life and her independence.

As she becomes more reliant on her young assistant, they form a close bond and she begins to talk to him about her life and her past.

When Maggie’s Christmas plans to fly home are prevented, she unexpectedly spends the holiday season with her assistant.

She finds herself reminiscing about a Christmas many years before, and decides to tell him the story.

The Wish has not yet been turned into a movie, but there are plans to create a film adaptation soon.


  • Structure – This book has an interesting structure as the focus is split between the present day and Maggie’s nostalgic story about being a teenager in a remote village in North Carolina. The reader learns about how she adjusted to her new life living with her estranged aunt and shows she befriends a local boy who opens her eyes to the beauty of her surroundings.
  • Theme – This story shows you how much impact you can have on someone’s life, even if you are only in it for a little while.
  • Perspective – It is a different perspective on a love story, and it also puts a lot of emphasis on learning to love yourself and carving out a life for yourself that brings you happiness and fulfillment.


The Longest Ride

The Longest Ride

The Longest Ride is a little different from some of the other novels by Nicholas Sparks because there are two different couples at the center of the story, and it is only as the book draws to an end that you realize how the two couples are connected.

Ira is an elderly man who is involved in a car crash. He is stranded and alone, struggling to stay conscious when he sees a vision of his late wife.

He knows that Ruth can’t actually be there, but he follows her advice and keeps himself awake by recounting stories about their life together, and their love.

Sophie is a college student who has recently broken up with her boyfriend.

She is sick of dating fraternity boys who never seem to treat her right when she meets Luke.

Luke is a cowboy, and his lifestyle and outlook are totally different from any other boy Sophie has met.

She is drawn into his world and finds herself imagining a future together.

But Luke is keeping a secret that could threaten to come between them and ruin any future they might have together.

This novel was turned into a movie in 2015 with an excellent cast.


  • Themes – There are so many different themes in this book, all woven together to create a cohesive and entertaining story.
  • Perspectives – Ira and Ruth are from an older generation than Luke and Sophie, so the struggles they faced through their marriage were very different from what the young couple is going through. You get two very different insights into love with this book.


  • Pace – Some readers might find the plot hard to follow because it switches between different narratives.


Dreamland: A Novel

Dreamland is the most recent novel from Nicholas Sparks, and it is just as good as his classic books. Two storylines unfold side by side in two different locations.

When the storylines converge in a surprising turn of events, it builds tension and anticipation.

You will be so desperate to find out what happens next that you won’t be able to put the book down.

One of the storylines follows Beverly, a woman who has escaped from an abusive marriage with her young son.

She starts a new life with a new identity but is living in constant fear. She is reluctant to let anyone in her new town get to know her and spends most of her time at home working on DIY projects.

Her concerns increase when her son tells her he has heard someone walking on the roof at night, someone who was calling his name.

Hundreds of miles away, two young and hopeful musicians are falling in love.

Colby and Morgan come from very different backgrounds, but they share a passion for music and performing.

Their connection is immediate – both musically and emotionally – and they spend a whirlwind week experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with falling in love.

When the three main characters are brought together by unexpected circumstances, life is testing them in different ways.


  • Theme – One of the main themes of this book is hope. How powerful is hope? Is it enough to make your dreams come true? Can the hope of a new life overpower your past?
  • Thought-provoking – This book encourages you to think about your own life, and your own hopes and dreams.


  • Characters – The characters feel a little less well-developed in this book.


Nicholas Sparks is an excellent author with a fantastic collection of novels to read.

If you want to read his books but don’t know where to start, try reading any of the top 10 books listed above first.

You can then move on to explore the rest of the novels and perhaps watch some of the movie adaptations as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about Nicholas Sparks’ books to help you understand more about the author and his work.

In What Order Should You Read Nicholas Sparks Books?

You don’t need to read Nicholas Sparks’ books in a particular order. Each one is a self-contained story- the only two books that are linked are The Notebook and The Wedding.

You could read them in the order they were published, or you can pick whichever one appeals to you the most.

How Many Nicholas Sparks Books Have Been Turned Into Movies?

Out of 23 novels written by Nicholas Sparks, 11 of them have been turned into movies. The movies are very popular and fans tend to feel that the movies capture the overall mood of each book.

Should You Read The Books Before You Watch The Film?

Some people prefer to read the book the movie was based on before watching the movie- other people like to watch the film first, as it helps them to visualize the characters and the locations in the book.

It depends on what you prefer, but reading the book before you watch the film will give you a more authentic experience.

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Noah Burton