If your Valentine’s Day was more of a Valentine’s Disaster, there are plenty of healthy ways to cope with the emotional fallout. There are also plenty of unhealthy ways, but we’re sure you already have those figured out. Whether you’re sick of being single, heartbroken over a relationship (this includes relationships that never happened), or just ruminating on your own limitless potential for destruction, why not take a break with a book? A book, at the very least, will never mooch off your rent money or lie about working late. These 7 books will help you on your journey to healing… or they’ll offer a pleasant distraction.
Juliet Takes a Breath
The most infuriating pieces of wisdom are often the most accurate. For instance, as we get older, we’ve realized the advice to get some sleep is actually pretty valid (even if we still don’t listen). An even more annoying piece of truth is this one: before you love someone else, you have to love yourself. Does that mean you’re completely un-depressed and think your body is flawless? No. It just means understanding your own needs before adding someone else’s into the mix. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera is the perfect novel for high hopes and heartbreak, focusing on a character’s self-development and personal growth after the end of a relationship.
Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.
Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?
With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.
Look! It’s that Guillermo del Toro movie about the sexy fish man, now in book form. Just kidding. While this book is also extremely weird, it’s weird in a different way. Strange, smart, and erotic, Melissa Broder‘s The Pisces will offer a fun distractions—while also commenting on the nature of why we seek out such distractions (a.k.a. calling us out).
Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.
Whip-smart, neurotically funny, sexy, and above all, fearless, The Pisces is built on a premise both sirenic and incredibly real—what happens when you think love will save you but are afraid it might also kill you.
The Lovers’ Dictionary
Told entirely through dictionary entries, this boldly creative novel tells the story of an ill-fated relationship. (That’s not a spoiler, but isn’t it more reassuring when you know something’s going to end?) Concise, blunt, and honest, David Levithan‘s The Lover’s Dictionary Since Levithan never reveals the gender of the protagonist’s partner, it’ll be even easier for you to find catharsis in seeing fragments of what might have been your own love story. Bonus: there are some particularly spicy passages condemning infidelity if that’s, uh, relevant to your current predicament.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.
If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it―you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.
How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.
Tiny, Beautiful Things
It’s hard to imagine tiny, beautiful things when you can only think of enormous, terrible ones instead. Though not explicitly about romantic love, Cheryl Strayed‘s Tiny Beautiful Things is certainly about personal growth and using your own strength to overcome whatever struggles you’re going through (in this case, heartbreak). Topics range from coming out, to sexual fetishes, to topics that have nothing to do with falling in love and everything to do with loving yourself. The two are more connected than you may think.
Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond. Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.
The Post-Birthday World
We’re all inclined towards our own ‘What-Ifs,’ the unanswerable questions that we stubbornly attempt to answer with a million different—and, more importantly, fictional—mental scenarios. What if I had tried harder? What if they had lived closer? What if we were both two completely different people from the people we actually are, falling head over heels into a love we never actually shared? Lionel Shriver‘s The Post-Birthday World will help you consider these questions in a healthy way or, at least, in a way that’s probably healthier than whatever you’re currently doing.
Children’s book illustrator Irina McGovern enjoys a quiet and settled life in London with her partner, fellow American expatriate Lawrence Trainer, a smart, loyal, disciplined intellectual at a prestigious think tank. To their small circle of friends, their relationship is rock solid. Until the night Irina unaccountably finds herself dying to kiss another man: their old friend from South London, the stylish, extravagant, passionate top-ranking snooker player Ramsey Acton. The decision to give in to temptation will have consequences for her career, her relationships with family and friends, and perhaps most importantly the texture of her daily life.
Hinging on a single kiss, this enchanting work of fiction depicts Irina’s alternating futures with two men temperamentally worlds apart yet equally honorable. With which true love Irina is better off is neither obvious nor easy to determine, but Shriver’s exploration of the two destinies is memorable and gripping. Poignant and deeply honest, written with the subtlety and wit that are the hallmarks of Shriver’s work, The Post-Birthday World appeals to the what-if in us all.
Listen, we know that your breakup was all your ex’s fault—but on the off chance that you had anything to do with it, maybe it’s time to consider the reason why. Mandy Stadtmiller‘s Unwifeable is an unflinchingly honest memoir of self-destruction that will encourage you to really look at yourself (or possibly your messed-up hungover reflection) and face the truths you might want to deny.
Provocative, fearless, and dizzyingly uncensored, Mandy spills every secret she knows about dating, networking, comedy, celebrity, media, psychology, relationships, addiction, and the quest to find one’s true nature. She takes readers behind the scenes (and name names) as she relays her utterly addictive journey.
Starting in 2005, Mandy picks up everything to move across the country to Manhattan, looking for a fresh start. She is newly divorced, thirty-years-old, with a dream job at the New York Post. She is ready to conquer the city, the industry, the world. But underneath the glitz and glamour, there is a darker side threatening to surface. The drug-fueled, never-ending party starts off as thrilling…but grows ever-terrifying. Too many blackout nights and scary decisions begin to add up. As she searches for the truth behind the façade, Mandy realizes that falling in love won’t fix her—until she learns to accept herself first.
I am not myself these days
Some relationships are toxic from the start. (Of course, we mean all relationships are toxic, and love is a lie, and Valentine’s Day is a sham. Whatever consolation your broken heart needs.) But, to quote Bojack Horseman, “when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir chronicles Kilmer-Purcell‘s time in a relationship that should have come with a warning label… though it basically already did. Perhaps this read will help you take a look at your relationships with a more critical, discerning eye.
The New York Times bestselling, darkly funny memoir of a young New Yorker’s daring dual life—advertising art director by day, glitter-dripping drag queen and nightclub beauty-pageant hopeful by night—was a smash literary debut for Josh Kilmer-Purcell, now known for his popular Planet Green television series The Fabulous Beekman Boys. His story begins here—before the homemade goat milk soaps and hand-gathered honeys, before his memoir of the city mouse’s move to the country, The Bucolic Plague—in I Am Not Myself These Days, with “plenty of dishy anecdotes and moments of tragi-camp delight” (WashingtonPost).
Featured Image Via Extraordinary Routines