Best Books to Read After A Break Up
Breaking up is hard to do. Let these literary soul comforters soothe your soul amidst feelings of despair and sadness. The books help you connect with others going through breakups - the empathy these books evoke in you will be the first stage on the path to healing that will leave you feeling stronger, kinder and braver.
If you'd prefer a more curated list, that's more tailored to your needs, interests and reading preferences you might find our Personalised Book Prescription helpful. You might also find it helpful to undertake a bibliotherapy session or our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course where you can discuss/explore whatever you're going through in more depth.
In "Love and Other Words", Macy and Elliot met when they were just eleven years old and quickly became best friends. They bonded over a shared love of books and words, and their friendship was the anchor that helped Macy cope with the trauma of losing her mother. As teenagers, Macy and Elliot's friendship grew into something more, but their relationship was abruptly cut short when Macy refused to open up to Elliot about the emotional aftermath of her mother's death.
Years later, Macy is a successful pediatrician with a stable, if somewhat unexciting, life in San Francisco. When she returns to her hometown for her father's retirement party, she unexpectedly runs into Elliot and is forced to confront the feelings she's been suppressing for years. As they reconnect and spend more time together, Macy and Elliot must confront their past mistakes and figure out if they can build a future together.
Throughout the novel, Christina Lauren explores the power of first love and the ways in which grief and loss can affect a person's ability to form and maintain relationships. The novel is written in alternating timelines, switching between Macy and Elliot's past and present experiences, which helps to build suspense and keep the reader engaged. "Love and Other Words" is a poignant and emotional novel that will appeal to fans of contemporary romance and women's fiction.
Eight Dates: To Keep Your Relationship Happy, Thriving and Lasting is a non-fiction book by marriage experts Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, along with co-authors Rachel Abrams and Doug Abrams. The book offers a practical and interactive approach to strengthening relationships by providing eight essential dates that couples can use to improve their communication, deepen their connection, and foster long-term happiness.
Each of the eight dates is designed to help couples explore a different topic, including trust, conflict, sex, and dreams for the future. The book provides exercises, questions, and activities that couples can complete together to facilitate discussion and understanding. The authors draw on their decades of research and clinical experience to provide evidence-based strategies for improving communication, managing conflict, and building intimacy.
Overall, "Eight Dates" is a comprehensive guide for couples looking to strengthen their relationship, whether they are newlyweds or have been together for decades. The book offers practical advice and tools that couples can use to deepen their connection and foster long-term happiness.
"I'll Give You the Sun" is a young adult novel by Jandy Nelson, published in 2014. The story follows twins Jude and Noah, who were once inseparable but have become estranged in the years following a family tragedy.
The novel is told from both Jude and Noah's perspectives and alternates between the past and present, exploring the events leading up to the tragedy and its aftermath. The story explores themes of grief, love, family, and artistic expression.
Noah, a talented artist, tells the story of their childhood when they were close, while Jude, a rebellious girl, narrates their teenage years when they grew apart. As they struggle with their own secrets and emotions, they slowly begin to rebuild their relationship and heal from their past traumas.
"I'll Give You the Sun" is a beautifully written and emotionally charged novel that deals with complex issues and explores the power of art and creativity in healing and self-expression. It won the 2015 Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature and was a New York Times bestseller.
Heartburn is a novel by Nora Ephron that is loosely based on her own experiences. The book tells the story of Rachel Samstat, a cookbook author who discovers that her husband, Mark, is having an affair while she is pregnant with their second child.
The novel is a mixture of comedy and tragedy, with the witty and sharp-tongued Rachel providing a hilarious and insightful commentary on her own life and the people around her. Through Rachel's eyes, the reader is introduced to a cast of colorful characters, including her husband, her friends, and her family members.
One of the unique features of the novel is the way in which Ephron incorporates recipes and cooking tips into the story. Rachel is a cookbook author, and throughout the book, she shares various recipes and cooking techniques that she has picked up over the years. These culinary interludes provide a welcome break from the emotional turmoil of the main story and add a touch of levity to the novel.
At its core, Heartburn is a powerful meditation on the pain of betrayal and the struggles of moving on from a broken relationship. Through Rachel's experiences, Ephron offers a nuanced and empathetic exploration of the emotional complexities of love and marriage. The novel is well-written, engaging, and full of insights that are relevant to anyone who has ever been in a difficult relationship or struggled to come to terms with heartbreak.
Infidelity can feel like the ultimate betrayal, but things are never so clear cut- maybe there is a grey space that we need to examine. My favourite couple’s psychotherapist Esther Perel explores the reason people cheat, unpacking the causes of affairs and why they lead to trauma, threatening our very existence. She uncovers something striking: infidelity happens because we are expressing something unexpected – feelings of longing and loss. This ground-working breakthrough gives us a fresh new perspective on relationships and how to navigate a post-affair world where we can meet both our needs and our partner’s needs.
Toby Fleishman thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost fifteen years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that one day, in the middle of his summer of sexual emancipation, Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return. He had been working so hard to find equilibrium in his single life. The winds of his optimism, long dormant, had finally begun to pick up. Now this.
As Toby tries to figure out where Rachel went, all while juggling his patients at the hospital, his never-ending parental duties, and his new app-assisted sexual popularity, his tidy narrative of the spurned husband with the too-ambitious wife is his sole consolation. But if Toby ever wants to truly understand what happened to Rachel and what happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen things all that clearly in the first place.
A searing, utterly unvarnished debut Danielle, Fleishman Is in Trouble is an insightful, unsettling, often hilarious exploration of a culture trying to navigate the fault lines of an institution that has proven to be worthy of our great wariness and our great hope.
Rachel Cusk's "Aftermath" is a memoir that recounts the author's personal experience of going through a difficult divorce and the aftermath of the end of her marriage. The book is structured as a series of essays that reflect on her own emotions and reactions to the divorce, as well as her relationships with her ex-husband, her children, and her friends.
Cusk writes about the sense of disorientation and loss that she experienced after her marriage ended, as well as the challenges of navigating the legal and financial aspects of the divorce. She also explores themes of identity, gender, and the nature of love and relationships.
The book is known for its frank and uncompromising approach to its subject matter, and for its experimental style, which blends memoir, personal essay, and literary criticism. "Aftermath" has been widely praised for its insight into the complexities of modern relationships and for its unflinching honesty about the pain and difficulty of divorce.
Transition/Dating Challenges/Uncertainty in New Relationships
First published in 1853, the book is a first-person narrative of a young Englishwoman, Lucy Snowe, who travels to the fictional French-speaking city of Villette to teach at a girls' school.
The story follows Lucy's experiences in Villette, as she struggles with homesickness, loneliness, and a sense of isolation. Lucy becomes friends with other teachers at the school, including the irritable and complex headmistress, Mademoiselle Reuter, and the kindly and eccentric Englishman, John Graham Bretton, whom Lucy knew from her childhood in England.
As the story unfolds, Lucy finds herself drawn to the brooding, passionate professor, Paul Emanuel, with whom she develops a deep emotional connection. However, Lucy's feelings for Paul are complicated by his past relationship with another woman, as well as her own doubts about her worthiness and the possibility of finding true love.
Throughout the book, Brontë explores themes such as loneliness, identity, the role of women in society, and the tensions between reason and emotion. "Villette" is a complex and deeply introspective novel that was very original for its time and appears to be highly autobiographical of Brontë's own life at the time, following the death of her three siblings. What was stunning about this book, at a time when all women were expected to marry and settle down, Lucy finds a way of getting through life alone.
The Course of Love is a novel by Alain de Botton that explores the complexities of romantic relationships. It follows the story of a couple named Rabih and Kirsten, from the beginning of their relationship to their marriage and beyond.
The novel is written in de Botton's signature style, which blends philosophy, psychology, and fiction. Throughout the book, he draws on the work of philosophers and psychologists, such as Freud, Proust, and Kierkegaard, to provide insights into the challenges and triumphs of love.
In addition to exploring the ups and downs of Rabih and Kirsten's relationship, de Botton also examines the societal and cultural forces that shape our ideas about love and marriage. He challenges some of our conventional notions of romantic love and suggests that we may need to adopt a more pragmatic and realistic approach to relationships if we want to find lasting happiness.
Overall, The Course of Love is a thought-provoking and engaging novel that offers a unique perspective on the complexities of love and relationships.
Love After Love is a novel by Ingrid Persaud that tells the story of a Trinidadian family and their struggles with love, loss, and identity. The novel is set in Trinidad and follows the lives of three main characters: Betty Ramdin, her son Solo, and their lodger Mr. Chetan.
At the heart of the novel is the theme of love and the various forms it can take. The characters in the novel all grapple with different aspects of love, whether it be the love between family members, the love between friends, or the romantic love between partners. They also confront issues related to loss and grief, as well as the challenges of coming to terms with their own identities and histories.
One of the unique aspects of the novel is the way in which it incorporates Trinidadian culture and folklore into the story. Persaud draws on Trinidadian traditions and beliefs to explore the themes of love and loss, and to give the novel a rich sense of place and identity.
Overall, Love After Love is a deeply moving and insightful novel that offers a nuanced and empathetic exploration of the complexities of love and identity. The characters are well-drawn and relatable, and the writing is both lyrical and accessible. The novel is a powerful meditation on the importance of love in our lives and the transformative power it can have.
A unique novel about a socially awkward, genetics professor’s quest to find true love.
Don Tillman is a genetics professor, who also has Asperger’s and struggles with dating. He has never been past the first one and has few friends. Inspired by a neighbour, who reckons he’d be a great husband, he decides to embark on an experiment called ‘The Wife Project’, based on the statistical hypotheses that there is someone for everyone. He sets out on his search and is keen to find someone who is punctual and logical too.
Then there is Rosie Jarman, who is a barmaid, vegetarian and chronically late who is looking for her biological father, leading her to Don Tillman! A hilarious novel on how ‘good on paper’ can be incredibly deceiving.
Neurodiverse men (those with Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions) have a very different perspective on love to the neurotypical men and given that they form 15 – 20 % of the population, it’s interesting to understand how they view love too, as you might find yourself pairing with one of them!
All About Love: New Visions is a book written by bell hooks, a feminist author, activist, and cultural critic. The book explores the nature of love and the ways in which it is manifested in our lives.
In the book, hooks argues that love is not just an emotion, but an action that requires effort, commitment, and hard work. She contends that love is not just something that we feel, but something that we do, and that it can be expressed in many different forms, such as compassion, care, and empathy.
One of the central themes of the book is the idea that we live in a culture that is deeply flawed when it comes to understanding and practicing love. Hooks argues that our society is characterized by a "culture of domination" that perpetuates inequality, injustice, and violence. She suggests that the only way to overcome this culture is to embrace a "culture of love," in which we prioritize empathy, respect, and compassion.
Throughout the book, hooks draws on her own experiences as well as the insights of other thinkers, such as Erich Fromm, M. Scott Peck, and Paulo Freire, to provide a compelling and insightful analysis of the nature of love. She explores the ways in which love can transform our lives and our relationships, and she provides practical advice on how we can cultivate love in our daily lives.
Overall, All About Love is a powerful and thought-provoking book that challenges us to rethink our understanding of love and to embrace it as a transformative force in our lives.
Essays in Love is a novel by Alain de Botton that explores the nature of love and relationships through a series of essays. The book follows the story of a young couple, Chloe and the unnamed narrator, from their initial meeting to their eventual breakup.
Through the course of the book, de Botton examines various aspects of love, including the role of beauty, the importance of conversation, the impact of external factors such as social class, and the difficulties of sustaining long-term relationships. The essays are written in a philosophical and introspective style, and de Botton draws on the insights of thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Proust to shed light on the nature of love.
One of the unique features of the book is the way in which de Botton uses footnotes to provide additional insights and reflections on the themes explored in the main text. These footnotes often offer personal anecdotes, reflections on the writing process, and further commentary on the philosophical ideas that underpin the narrative.
Overall, Essays in Love is a thought-provoking and engaging book that offers a nuanced and insightful exploration of the complexities of love and relationships. The book is well-written, accessible, and full of insights that are relevant to anyone who has ever been in love or struggled to understand the nature of this powerful emotion.
Finding Reconnection in An Existing Relationship
The novel follows Sean, who has lost Catherine, the love of his life. He receives a box filled with envelopes, each containing a snapshot and a cassette tape. Catherine has left behind a series of recordings, in which she shares their long love story, revealing painful truths and secrets that she kept from Sean. As Sean listens to the tapes, he is forced to question everything he thought he knew about their life together. Despite the unsettling revelations, he hopes that the tapes will confirm that their love and life together were always meant to be. The novel explores themes of destiny, love, and the power of honesty in relationships.
On Love is the debut novel by bestselling author and philosopher Alain De Botton. The novel follows the story of a man and a woman who meet on a flight from Paris to London and begin a love story. The novel explores each stage of their relationship, from their first kiss to their first argument and all the emotions in between. Through the story, De Botton offers a profound and humorous exploration of love, shedding light on emotions that are often felt but rarely understood. On Love is considered a contemporary classic that is recommended for anyone who has experienced the complexities of falling in love.
Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel examines the story of sex in committed couples and explores the complexities of love and desire in long-term relationships. While modern romance promises a lifetime of intimacy, togetherness, and erotic desire, the reality is often more complex. Perel argues that the quest for secure love can conflict with the pursuit of passion and that the very thing that brought us into our relationships - lust - can be the one thing that goes missing. The book seeks to reconcile the erotic and the domestic, with Perel arguing for playfulness, distance, and uncertainty to bring lust back into long-term relationships. The book is a smart, sexy, and original read, and is recommended for anyone seeking to understand the complexities of love and desire in committed relationships.
This is a remarkable book on the later stages of a relationship – how do you make it work once you’ve moved on from the romantic phase. How do you renew your feelings, maintain desire and passion, all the while managing everyday issues and the domestic routine of life?
A New York Times bestseller, The 5 Love Languages, invites people in relationships to discover the ways in which they can help your relationship flourish and keep it fresh. The book guides us on how to give and receive love, and create a pathway for a deeper and enriched romantic experience. There's also a couple’s personal profile assessment that will help you assess the love language that you and your partner speak.
Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of advice columns written by Cheryl Strayed, an anonymous internet Agony Aunt who became known for her compassionate and insightful responses to people's problems. Strayed draws from her own personal experiences, including overcoming personal demons during a solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, to offer advice on a range of issues that people face in life, from heartbreak and loss to career challenges and self-doubt. Strayed's advice is often tender, humorous, and heartbreaking, and the book offers a valuable guide for anyone who feels a little lost in life. The book is a collection of some of the best letters and responses from Strayed's column and is a testament to her wisdom and compassion.
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan is a unique novel about a nameless narrator who constructs the story of his relationship as a dictionary, exploring the problem of describing love with the right words. Through short entries, he offers an intimate glimpse into the significant moments and everyday details of being in a relationship, providing a deeply moving and unforgettable portrait of love in the modern world.
Juliet Takes a Breath is a coming-of-age novel by Gabby Rivera that follows the story of a Puerto Rican teenager named Juliet Palante, who comes out to her family as a lesbian and moves to Portland, Oregon, to intern with a well-known feminist author named Harlowe Brisbane. While working with Harlowe, Juliet begins to explore her own identity and experiences a range of emotions, from confusion and anger to love and empowerment. The novel touches on themes of intersectional feminism, queer identity, and cultural heritage, and is a powerful and inspiring story of self-discovery and self-acceptance.
The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing is a novel that follows the journey of Jane Rosenal as she navigates through the challenges of love, sex, relationships, and the workplace. The story revolves around Jane's experiences with an older man, and the world of cocktail parties, country houses, and high stakes that come with it. With a clever and humorous approach, author Melissa Bank touches on universal issues and presents a unique perspective on the complexities of dating, while also exploring the coming-of-age journey of a young woman.
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A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I train mental health professionals, librarians, teachers as well as readers on using bibliotherapy in their own work through our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course. We also curate reading lists/personalised book prescriptions for clients based on their individual needs. This is our signature personalised reading service.
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