A friend recently asked me to recommend some books to help her friend get over a breakup. To both of our surprises, I couldn't give her any suggestions because, well, I didn't have any.
I'm a clinical psychologist in full-time private practice in New York City. People often ask me to recommend shrinks, opine on new therapies, or to suggest appropriate books. In this case, however, I didn't have one.
All of my friends, colleagues, and patients know that one of the things I revere is failure. Failure, in any context, including not having a good book reference, or the dissolution of a romantic relationship provides you with an opportunity for improvement. My failure to respond to my friend's request showed me that I had not done appropriate research in this area. I used this as an opportunity for learning and handed her this list a few weeks ago.
Some of the titles I suggest will surprise you. Only three of the books I recommended to her (and now to you) are "how to get over a breakup" books. The other four contain life-altering wisdom or inspiration that can be even more useful than specific techniques to ex your ex.
So, without further ado, here is my list of the seven best books for breakups:
The 7 Best Books for Mending a Broken Heart
The Breakup Bible is the best book I have found for helping people, especially girls, getting through their first heartbreak. It is about a high school junior, Jen, whose boyfriend, Max, suddenly tells her that he wants to be friends. Jen can't imagine how she will deal with seeing Max in school after they break up, let alone work with him on the school paper. Jen is initially skeptical about the advice contained in "The Breakup Bible" given to her by her grandmother, and yet the process Jen goes through throughout the novel book feels real, touching and, ultimately healing.
Three failed relationships in as many years are more likely to force you into awakening than three years on a desert island or shut away in your room.
This book was also on my last list, and with good reason. The Power of Now is one of the books that has changed my life and speaks to me a spiritual level. In this book, spiritual leader Eckhart Tolle explains the often misunderstood concept of being in the now in a way that is useful and practical. This is an essential concept for well-being and is particualtly helpful when your heart is in a dark place.
5.) The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman's Guide to Healing From a Breakup or Divorce by Rachel Sussman
Don't confuse this book, The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman's Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce, with the novel The Breakup Bible recommended above. Although they are both good, they are vastly different. Unlike the novel, this book is really aimed at adults and is an invaluable guide for helping people, especially women, move through Sussman's three phases of healing from a breakup: healing, understanding and transformation. What I like best about this book is that in addition to the thoughtful and empathic way that Sussman writes, there's lots of solid advice from women at each step of the process. The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman's Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce is particularly good for women emerging from a divorce, as it explains how the dissolution of a relationship makes you stronger.
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.
The Alchemist is not a breakup book. It is, a story of transformation that explains the need for a Personal Legend in all of our lives. The Alchemist tells the story of a shepherd boy who has a recurring dream, which he believes to be a prophecy and he sets out in search of a treasure. Along they way, the boy meets a seer, an old king, an Englishman, an Arabian woman, and ultimately an Alchemist, who introduce the concept of a Personal Legend and teach him about destiny and following your own path in life. The reason I think that this is a great book to read when you have a wounded heart is that it helps to put life into perspective, and it opens your mind to the larger path of your life and learning. The Alchemist is a timeless treasure, but it can be a particularly valuable treasure when you are feeling wounded.
In spite of the fact that I have publicly admitted to being a romantic, when it comes down to the day-to-day workings of life, I am actually a pretty practical guy. This is why How to Heal a Broken Heart in 30 Days appeals to me. Bronson and Riley break down breakups in a practical, daily, easy-to-understand way that helps people process their emotions while also moving on in a positive way. If you are a heartbroken practical person, this is definitely the book for you.
This is my favorite no-nonsense break-up book. Elliott is supremely practical and behavioral in her approach to how to avoid getting sucked back into a dysfunctional relationship. Her "cold turkey" strategies are incredibly useful for people who need concrete advice on what to do next.
1.) The Bible
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I am aware that this will not go over well with many of my colleagues who want nothing to do with religion, but frankly I don't care. Whether you are a religious person or not, or whether you choose to interpret it literally or metaphorically, The Bible is, was, and will forever be The Greatest Story Ever Told. The wisdom and parables contained in The Bible are the most helpful I have ever encountered in my life. The Bible remains the best guide learning to have faith and that things do get better.
If you are experiencing the pain of a breakup, I hope this list and the books on it are helpful to you. Or if you know someone with a wounded heart, I hope that you share it with them. The wisdom contained in these various sources is vast and can help you (or someone you know) to a speedy recovery and a stronger and brighter future. Please feel free to leave a comment here about these books. If you have other suggestions, or feel like I missed a book or two, please let me know. I'm always up for learning more.
Dr. Ben Michaelis is a clinical psychologist in full-time private practice in Manhattan. Dr. Michaelis writes and speaks regularly about mental health, creativity, spirituality and motivation. He is the author of numerous popular and scholarly articles and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Dr. Michaelis is a frequent guest on nationally syndicated TV shows such as, NBC's The Today Show, The Hallmark Channel's Home & Family, and MSNBC's Your Business. Dr. Michaelis is the author of Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy.