When it comes to healing from a breakup, art can be a helpful tool for processing the numerous emotions that can often accompany lost love. If you’re overwhelmed with the options when it comes to choosing some books to read after a breakup, check out the following suggestions for some healing reads. The following list of essay collections, novels, and poetry have been chosen because they each speak to the struggle of a breakup in a different way.
All of the following authors have incredibly different styles and genres, yet they share a vulnerability and tenderness deeply embedded in their work. Each work is powerful, gentle, and honest when it comes to dealing with pain, loss, and moving on.
The books can help to process your feelings, make you laugh, and remind you that breakups are a normal part of the human experience. Growth is difficult. but the following literary works can soothe your sore heart until you’re feeling a bit better. Most of all, I hope any one of the books on this list will remind you of your inner strength. You’ll get through this.
Poet Jess Rizkallah excavates her life, memories, family, lineage, joys, pain and sorrows in her collection The Magic My Body Becomes. In doing so, she grants readers the permission to excavate their own lives and to be their own historians. She gives readers permission to become deeply enchanted with the small pieces of their lives, like the sight of the moon out their window or the food their mother has taught them to make. Her poems function much like a secret guide on learning about the universe of yourself. If you’re feeling alone or particularly overwhelmed by a recent separation, reading this book could reintroduce you to yourself and the vast amount of magic you contain.
If you’re looking to be grounded in your pain, and also laugh until you cry, look no further than We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by the inimitable Samantha Irby. Through gut-busting humor and deeply relatable anecdotes, she depicts the true struggle of dating in early adulthood. Irby’s simultaneous wit and tenderness is sure to have you feeling like you’re definitely not alone in the struggle of a breakup.
Sophie Klahr’s Meet Me Here At Dawn is particularly helpful if you feel like your breakup just keeps dragging on. It illustrates how a complicated romantic connection can be magnetic, hard to shake, and fill you with a longing that you can’t place or name. Klahr tenderly dissects and recounts the bittersweet moments that have lasting impressions on us for years to come.
If you’re processing a post-college breakup, consider Carola Lovering’s novel Tell Me Lies. Set in California and New York City, this novel is an account of a young couple finding one another in college and struggling to walk away as their young adulthood lives prove they might be better off apart. It can be a reminder that intensity does not necessarily promise a happily ever after. Getting lost in this narrative could even help you feel better about your own story.
Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of advice columns that Strayed ran anonymously on The Rumpus. Each answer is so validating and important, as it illuminates how integral loss and pain are to the human experience. Strayed meets readers where they are, sits with them and reassures that, yes, things can be really hard. She also conveys with remarkable grace that we do have the strength to keep going even when it may feel like we cannot.
Nayyirah Waheed’s Salt is first and foremost a healing collection of poems. It’s raw, honest, and deeply giving in its compassion to whomever reads it. Waheed uses short poems to convey an ocean of depth which is often what one needs when a breakup shakes your world to pieces.
If you are looking for an artful narrative to inform your healing, consider Ayobami Adebayo’s Stay With Me. It’s a complicated, heart-wrenching novel that centers on a love that began in college and transforms into a marriage that struggles due to infertility, separation, and more. The narrative follows a winding, beautifully rendered path through the lives of a complicated couple with burdens that threaten to break their union permanently. This novel is perfect for those looking for a story about how outside pressures can affect a relationship.
Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior is a memoir about doing hard things. A memoir about both growing into a person she didn’t necessarily want to be and a marriage that wasn’t destined to last. Through her writing, Doyle found an inner strength to just keep going and making the bravest choices she could. This memoir can help you claw your way through the pain of a breakup and make it to the other side stronger. Her message centers compassion and bravery, despite being afraid of doing the hard things that life sometimes requires.
If you’re struggling with a breakup, I hope you can find some solace in the above list. As Glennon Doyle says in her book, “I have met my self and I am going to care for her fiercely.” Reading these books can help you do exactly that.
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