Discover thought-provoking books to read after a breakup, offering wisdom and comfort for difficult times post-heartbreak.
Nothing quite compares to the pain of a heart-wrenching breakup. It can feel like everything is falling apart, making navigating through the fog of emotions more difficult. Maybe you should talk to someone. Maybe it’s best to be alone in the meantime. Here’s a compromise: how about discovering books to read after a breakup to ease the pain?
Reading offers a soothing balm to your wounded heart and is a key part of the healing process. Aside from allowing you to engage with characters and stories that resonate with your experience, it’s also medically proven to alleviate anxiety and depression. Our list of books will pull you into different worlds, letting you momentarily escape reality while also equipping you with the strength to face it head-on.
- Fiction Books to Help You Process Your Emotions
- Memoirs and Non-Fiction Books to Help You Find Inspiration and Healing
- Self-Help and Psychology Books to Help You Understand and Improve Your Relationships
- 11. The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship by Don Miguel Ruiz
- 12. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
- 13. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
- 14. The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce by Rachel Sussman
- 15. Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott
- 16. The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by Susan Anderson
- 17. The Wisdom of a Broken Heart: How to Turn the Pain of a Breakup into Healing, Insight, and New Love by Susan Piver
- 18. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix
- Spiritual and Mindfulness Books to Help You Find Inner Peace and Clarity
- 19. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- 20. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
- 21. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
- 22. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
- 23. The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler
- Books on Personal Growth and Empowerment to Help You Move Forward
- 24. The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck
- 25. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
- 26. The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman’s Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships by Harriet Lerner
- 27. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
- 28. Rising Strong: A Guide to Bouncing Back from Difficult Times and Embracing Vulnerability by Brené Brown
- The Final Word on Best Breakup Books
Fiction Books to Help You Process Your Emotions
1. Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People unravels the intricate relationship between its Irish lovers, Connell and Marianne. Readers go through the intense emotions of first love, heartbreak, and reconciliation alongside the characters. Rooney’s masterful depiction of the vulnerabilities and complexities of young love has won international acclaim, making it a must-read breakup book.
Reading Normal People urges you to reflect on your emotions and connections. The author’s nuanced and honest portrayal of heartbreak will let you deal with your feelings in a safe literary space. Rooney’s characters are relatable enough that you’ll think of them as real. They’ll help you reconcile the fact that heartbreak is a universal human experience. This New York Times bestseller invites you to partake in the conversation of love and loss.
“I’m not a religious person but I do sometimes think God made you for me.”Sally Rooney, Normal People
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Who wouldn’t be familiar with the literary icon, The Great Gatsby? Among its many themes, deeply rooted within the pages of this novel, is a love story. A love story that criticizes human emotions. It follows the tumultuous link of Jay Gatsby, his Daisy, and the Roaring 20s. It’s a record of their lives of affection and loss, resonating with audiences that stretches for almost a century.
Fitzgerald is a master at analyzing the aftermath of a lost love. His raw comparisons are brutal. You’ll surely be able to reflect within the paragraphs of his work when you’re post-breakup. The heartbreak he encompasses in The Great Gatsby is flawed and authentic. This classic effortlessly evokes a sense of kinship and empathy through the whirlwind of intimacy and grief of what could have been.
“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.“F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Self-discovery and personal growth are the central focus of The Alchemist. The narrative told through an Andalusian shepherd, Santiago, is tender and yet magical. Throughout his quest, he found riches. Riches that are far different and far more satisfying than he ever imagined.
It’s a tale about the importance of listening to your heart. It’s learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path. After a breakup, it can feel like nothing makes sense, but The Alchemist will inspire you to rediscover your own personal legend. Through doing so, you will realign with your life’s purpose. Read our guide to Paulo Coelho’s best books.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.“Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler’s Wife unfolds the unconventional love story of Clare and Henry. Their relationship is anything but linear as Henry’s uncontrolled time-traveling rakes them into a dizzying and heart-wrenching journey. This work of art is not your usual science fiction. It’s an inquiry of just how much love can endure—Even when things fall apart.
So, how did it find its way into our post-breakup book recommendations? Simple. Despite it circling more around the themes common in romantic relationships, it also examines real-life love. Think of the sorrow, uncertainties, and eventual acceptance. It’s a fascinating read that affects our sense of self-love and self-care. The Time Traveler’s Wife seeks to interpret the healing process differently.
“I wanted someone to love who would stay: stay and be there, always.“Audrey Niffeneger, The Time Traveler’s Wife
5. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The Unbearable Lightness of Being is the musings of four intertwined lives about politics, philosophy, and love. Through the eyes of these four people, readers investigate their points of view on what is love, freedom, and fidelity. Kundera’s work is also a reliable depiction of the paradox of the human heart and existence.
Though the book is focused on the fleeting sense of affection and our significance in this world, it’s not entirely pessimistic. In fact, it’s an excellent new book to add to our reading list to help you reconcile the short-lived nature of relationships.
“But when the strong were too weak to hurt the weak, the weak had to be strong enough to leave.“Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s only literary child, The Bell Jar, is an intense and frank narrative of womanhood and mental health. It follows Esther Greenwood, her enthusiastic outlook in life, and her plunge into spirals of depression. Plath’s storyline encapsulates the turmoil and desolation of her episodes. She likened it to being trapped under a bell jar. Evidently so, as the novel is a semi-autobiographical work inspired by her life.
Breakups, like mental health struggles, can feel isolating and overwhelming. Though it’s not your conventional romance novel, Reading The Bell Jar post-breakup can provide a sense of companionship and understanding. It’s a powerful exploration of individual struggle and resilience. Who knows—you might just find the strength to lift your own “bell jar.”
“The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn’t thought about it.“Sylvia Plath,The Bell Jar
Memoirs and Non-Fiction Books to Help You Find Inspiration and Healing
7. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
It’s not uncommon to feel like running away after a great breakup. That’s exactly what Elizabeth Gilbert did in Eat, Pray, Love. She hopped from Italy to India to Indonesia. All in the hopes of finding those he thought he lost—devotion, balance, and pleasure.
You’re in the same boat postbreakup. But if your bank account can’t quite let you do as Gilbert did, her book will take you alongside her journey. You’ll understand the importance of solitude. You’ll ascertain the lessons scattered after a breakup. Eat, Pray, Love is not just a travelogue. It’s an exciting channel to reap the benefits of self-love and acceptance.
“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.“Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
8. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Wild is a raw, vivid memoir by Cheryl Strayed, recounting her solo trek on the Pacific Crest Trail following the devastating loss of her mother and the end of her marriage. In the face of grief and personal failure, Strayed makes the impulsive decision to hike over 1,000 miles—despite having no wilderness experience.
Strayed’s journey is both physical and emotional. Her experiences on the trail mirror the pain, confusion, and ultimate healing found in the aftermath of heartbreak. Wild offers readers a dose of brutal honesty and an unfiltered look at the human spirit’s tenacity.
“I’m a free spirit who never had the balls to be free.“Cheryl Strayed, Wild
9. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
In the realm of self-help and healing, Tiny Beautiful Things stands tall and impactful. Cheryl Strayed, who you just met on the Pacific Crest Trail, wears a different hat here. She is “Sugar,” an anonymous online advice columnist who became a beacon of hope, wisdom, and warmth for thousands of readers. This work collates these advice columns alongside Strayed’s answers.
When you’re experiencing heartbreak, there are questions you know the answers to but still ask about. With the author’s real-life experience, readers are urged to mull over their feelings. Going through Strayed’s thought-provoking responses feels like a conversation with your best friend. It’s unabashed, it’s genuine. What’s more, Tiny Beautiful Things is filled with hard-hitting advice and affirmations, making it a great companion during difficult times.
“Forgiveness doesn’t sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill.“Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things
10. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Year of Magical Thinking is a heartrending memoir by Joan Didion. Its subject matter is the year following the sudden death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne. Didion’s transparent sharing of her grief, confusion, and fear is a masterclass in honest, emotional writing.
Her bare-all probing of the unforeseen loss includes her lonely trek toward acceptance. It’s a thorough book that will undeniably resonate with anyone experiencing heartbreak. Reading The Year of Magical Thinking is akin to sitting down and having an intimate conversation with a close friend who has been there and done that.
“It occurs to me that we allow ourselves to imagine only such messages as we need to survive.“Joan Didion, The Year of Magical
Self-Help and Psychology Books to Help You Understand and Improve Your Relationships
11. The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship by Don Miguel Ruiz
In The Mastery of Love, Don Miguel Ruiz illuminates fear-based beliefs and assumptions. His book aims to let readers recover their freedom and happiness, as they are one’s birthright. Ruiz also mentions that loving relationships require one necessary ingredient: the spirit of playfulness.
The book strips away the illusions of romantic relationships. Through the realistic lens Ruiz offers, readers are pushed to break societal expectations. As someone who’s undergoing a breakup, you’ll do well to have a deeper comprehension that love cannot stand alone. It should also be infused with honesty, freedom, and self-acceptance.
“It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, you are never going to be what that person wants you to be.“Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship
12. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
In The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Gary Chapman introduces a fresh approach to romantic relationships. It’s through proposing that everyone has a primary love language—a method of giving and receiving love that feels most valuable to each. Like the book title, he shares five love languages (Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.)
Chapman suggests that grasping what your love language is, along with your partner’s, will elevate your relationship’s quality. Post-breakup, this is one of the best books to discern why past relationships didn’t work out. It’s also a guide to moving forward after being heartbroken and one we write about in our guide to the best books for couples to read.
“Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment.“Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
13. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
In Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love, psychotherapists Amir Levine and Rachel Heller make it easy to digest attachment science. They put forward three attachment styles: Secure, Anxious, and Avoidant. Through these presentations, readers can dissect their relationship dynamics.
The pair presents a whole new lens to view romantic relationships. When you suffer from the emotional highs and lows of heartbreak, this work can be your compass. You can mend your heart and build healthier connections in the future. Attached is a roadmap to more potent and satisfying connections.
“If you’re with someone secure, they nurture you into a more secure stance.“Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love
14. The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce by Rachel Sussman
The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce by Rachel Sussman is a comprehensive guide to weathering the storm of separation. May it be a simple breakup or a messy divorce. Sussman gives step-by-step strategies to remedy and transform heartbreak into something positive. One that you can use in your life in a better way.
It blends the insights of a seasoned psychotherapist with real-life stories. And so, it provides a unique blend of professional advice and relatable experiences. Sussman’s expert intuition and reassuring tone are a balm to any emotional wound. Thus, The Breakup Bible will not only help you work with your feelings.
“You are not only mourning the loss of someone significant in your life, but saying farewell to your dreams of an eternity together.“Rachel Sussman, The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce
15. Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott
Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You suggests effective strategies to overcome the pain of lost love. But it doesn’t stop there—it also proposes how to rebuild a better life.
It’s more than a good book, nor is it just a post-breakup guide. Elliott’s work offers a holistic approach to grief and recovery. She stitches together elements of psychology, mindfulness, and self-care to create a comprehensive plan for emotional healing. It’s a practical, thought-provoking work that digs a pathway to redemption.
“It’s not healthy for you to expend energy trying to convince someone who refuses to be convinced.“Susan J. Elliott, Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You
16. The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by Susan Anderson
Go an empowering voyage with The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by seasoned psychotherapist Susan Anderson. Save yourself from feeling abandoned and have a renewed outlook in life through this book. Here, Anderson uses her wealth of experience to light your path. She presents practical tools and exercises that guide readers through emotional breakups.
Simply put, Anderson’s book is the bible of abandonment recovery. It’s a unique fusion of self-help, psychology, and healing practices. The book proves how the end of one relationship can become the start of a beautiful growth journey.
“The only thing we really have is nowness, now.“Susan Anderson, The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life
17. The Wisdom of a Broken Heart: How to Turn the Pain of a Breakup into Healing, Insight, and New Love by Susan Piver
Next on our top recommended self-help books is The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. Why? Because it offers a stimulating take on heartbreak. It pushes readers to not dwell on the experience’s pain. Instead, Susan Piver repeats the mantra of not breaking alongside the heartbreak. With her energy and narrative, Piver cheers you to confront the hurt head-on.
Though her work is honest, it’s also compassionate and careful in handling the pinprick of a broken relationship. She does this by embedding Buddhist wisdom and her own perceptions into strategies she shared in the book.
“I realized that in depression, nothing matters… And in sadness, everything matters.“Susan Piver, The Wisdom of a Broken Heart: How to Turn the Pain of a Breakup into Healing, Insight, and New Love
18. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix
Harville Hendrix’s Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples may be an obvious self-help book pick, but it is a usual choice for a reason. Though there’s a “For Couples,” in the book, it’s actually not just for those who are in an active relationship. If you want to handle your next relationship better or understand why you choose the lovers you do, this one is a must-read.
Besides unveiling the secrets to improved connections, Hendrix explains the unconscious forces that drive you toward your top pick for partners. It’s an enlightening read on the patterns that govern romantic relationships.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.“Harville Hendrix, Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples
Spiritual and Mindfulness Books to Help You Find Inner Peace and Clarity
19. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now is all about letting go of one’s past traumas and future anxieties. The goal? To be truly present in the moment. The book is a top recommendation for anyone who struggles with the subsequent events of a fallout. It teaches you to be detached from the emotional pain you suffer after a heartache. This is to make space for the healing power of being in the present.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.“Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
20. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
If you’re up for some introspective journey and dissecting your self-concept, read Michael A. Singer’s The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself. Through the brilliantly penned-down acuities of Singer, you’ll be able to detangle your thoughts and emotions.
Many have been inspired by The Untethered Soul, and for good reason. It silences any chatter in your mind and liberates you from limiting yourself. You can treat it as a gentle, guiding hand that pushes you to appreciate the pain you’re feeling as it’s a part of your voyage. When you focus on yourself and not the hard time you’re going through, you heal faster.
“Only you can take inner freedom away from yourself or give it to yourself. Nobody else can.”Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
21. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
In Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, you are encouraged to accept anything that makes you vulnerable and weak. It’s human nature to bond over weaknesses, as she explains. And so it’s easier to form connections via these supposed burdens.
This book has a powerful way of handling feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that often arise after a breakup. It encourages self-love, self-care, and self-acceptance. It shakes off “who you think you are supposed to be” and steers you towards “‘who you truly are.”
“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it.“Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
22. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön examines life’s most challenging events. It’s a book that promises during the raucous moments following separation. It evolves a heartbreak’s pain into awareness. Chödrön applies her Buddhist wisdom to teach readers to turn towards their pain and embrace it rather than shying away. Go and read When Things Fall Apart if you’re craving inner peace and clarity, especially during difficult times.
“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
23. The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler
The Art of Happiness inspects the concept of happiness. It draws from the Buddhist belief system, with the Dalai Lama sharing his collected wisdom on overcoming suffering and obtaining serenity. The book is structured as a series of conversations between the writers, making complex philosophical and psychological concepts more digestible.
It presents a unique blend of Eastern spiritual beliefs and Western psychology. As someone in post-breakup, you’ll achieve tranquility. You’ll learn to focus more on the positive aspects of life and why such things may happen.
Whether you’re exploring Buddhism for the first time or looking for a radically different perspective on happiness, this book is a must-read.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. “Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler, The Art of Happiness
Books on Personal Growth and Empowerment to Help You Move Forward
24. The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck
The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck kept its spot as a bestseller for a decade for its revolutionary attempt at scouting love, self-growth, and spirituality. This book earns its place in the list because it pushes readers to step out of their comfort zones. Not only does it help readers understand the importance of self-love and self-care, but it also equips them with the tools to navigate the difficult times that follow.
“Move out or grow in any dimension and pain as well as joy will be your reward.“M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
25. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead charges bravely into the heart of vulnerability. It asserts that it is, in fact, our most accurate measure of courage.
It steers readers through a life-changing journey of self-exploration. This probing is critical during the healing process of a breakup. The author’s revelations about welcoming vulnerability promote a deeper understanding of self-love and self-care amid heartbreak.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”Brene Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
26. The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman’s Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships by Harriet Lerner
The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman’s Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships is a gem that sorts out the complicated dynamics of intimate relationships. As its name suggests, the book focuses on reasons why relationships are strained. Here, Harriet Lerner suggests positive changes women can make to have a better sense of themselves to create strong foundations of relationships.
After a breakup, The Dance of Intimacy presents the necessary tools to reclaim self-esteem and rebuild identity. It helps the readers to understand the patterns in their relationships and gives them the courage to make transformative changes.
“Change requires courage, but the failure to change does not signify the lack of it.”Harriet Lerner,The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman’s Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships
27. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
There are four central lessons in The Four Agreements: Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. They may sound simple, yet they have the power to bring about radical change. Don Miguel Ruiz presents the wisdom of the Toltec tradition in an easy-to-understand and relatable manner, making it a real-life guide to personal freedom.
But what does Toltec Wisdom have to do with a broken heart? It’s a part of this list due to its potential to shift your perspective on life and relationships. More importantly, it can pilot you on how to avoid unnecessary suffering.
“Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.”Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
28. Rising Strong: A Guide to Bouncing Back from Difficult Times and Embracing Vulnerability by Brené Brown
Brené Brown’s Rising Strong: A Guide to Bouncing Back from Difficult Times and Embracing Vulnerability by Brené Brown is a life-altering book. Why? The author focuses on thought-provoking research to fight off failure. Not to avoid it but to embrace vulnerabilities and transform them into strength. As a postbreakup book, it draws up courage by understanding its origin.
“Just because someone isn’t willing or able to love us, it doesn’t mean that we are unlovable.”Brene Brown, Rising Strong: A Guide to Bouncing Back from Difficult Times and Embracing Vulnerability
The Final Word on Best Breakup Books
Heartbreak can be a challenging phase of anyone’s life. But the right book can be a comforting companion to guide you through it. Reading is a powerful healing tool. When you’re cozying up and going through pages of wisdom and insights, you can reflect and understand the world better. Eventually, you’ll realize that the world is much bigger than your heartbreak.
This realization is your key to personal growth. It encourages self-love and resilience–both very necessary for moving past difficult times. So, if you’re dealing with a breakup, pick up a book from this list, let the words soothe you and guide you towards brighter days.