Even the most wide-eyed optimist must concede that heartbreak is an inevitable byproduct of romance. If you put your heart out there, you’ve got to expect some wear and tear – better to have loved and lost, and all that. Where better for a bookworm to seek solace than in the pages of a book? If your Valentine’s Day didn’t exactly work out as you’d hoped – or if you just thought my post last week was way too schmaltzy – here’s your cure: 10 books to read after a break-up.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
There’s no shame in needing a little earnest positivity when you’re heartbroken! The simple fable of The Alchemist won’t be too taxing to read, and you’ll find it to be a story of overcoming obstacles, persisting through dark times, and remaining true to one’s self. There’s a reason it’s a long-time favourite of hippie-dippie types! Read my full review here.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
If you’re entering into the snarky phase of grief, The Husband’s Secret is the book for you! The key takeaway is this: it’s probably a good thing it didn’t work out with your lover, because if they’d stuck around, you’d probably find out they were a secret murderer or having an affair with your cousin or something. You’re far better off without them, really! Read my full review here.
The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared is my ultimate cheer-up read. It’s the perfect book to read after a break-up, because romance barely rates a mention. The protagonist is a centenarian virgin, after all! I don’t want to call it “escapist”, because I think that’s a super-loaded term, but this is a book that will help you escape your troubles for an hour or two. Read my full review here.
Her Body And Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
If you’re struggling to focus for long enough to follow a whole novel, try Her Body And Other Parties instead. Machado is wickedly clever, incredibly insightful, and – of course – a kick-arse feminist. Her stories are spooky, strange, and sure to distract you from your dreadful ex. Plus, this is a collection of short stories you can sip slowly, instead of having to drink it all in at once.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
If you’re not ready to laugh just yet, why not take your mind off your break-up with a bit of the ol’ ultra-violence? A Clockwork Orange will leave you horrified, and silently glad you didn’t head out that night with a baseball bat to take your rage out on your ex’s windshield (come on, you know you were tempted, but that shit is a slippery slope). Read my full review here.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Life After Life will help you work through any of your lingering Sliding Doors fantasies. You know, the ones where you wonder how your relationship might had turned out if you’d just done one small thing differently… To put things in perspective, Atkinson’s protagonist has much higher stakes, with her repeated deaths and the fate of WWII hanging overhead. Plus, it’s so long, this book will keep you busy until long after the sting of your break-up has faded. Read my full review here.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Has your break-up got you feeling like you just want to get away from it all? Maybe read The Martian before you start googling how to buy a Space X ticket. Mark Watney ends up cut off from the world, and he comes pants-shittingly close to never reconnecting – it’s not as much fun as it sounds right now, trust me! Plus, Watney is such a witty and wry narrator, you’ll end up laughing in spite of yourself. Read my full review here.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
You’re not the only sad-sack lovelorn protagonist out there, I promise! Just look at Arthur Less, the bumbling fool who stumbles from one literary event to another, looking for love in all the wrong places. Less is the perfect book to read after a break-up, especially if you’ve just found out your ex is getting married and you’re wondering what the heck to do with your invitation…
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
If you’ve always thought you should “get around” to reading Moby Dick one day, now’s your chance! You’ve got a whole lot of recently-cleared brain space, and now there’s no pesky partner making entirely reasonable demands on your time. All those free evenings in your calendar will make it much easier to finally finish this whale of a novel. Read my full review here.
Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
OK, it’d be weird if I didn’t include something at least a little self-helpy in this list of books to read after a break-up – but make the most of it, because this is as close as I’m going to get! Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered isn’t a list of rules or a new religion or anything gross like that. It’s more like a memoir of life experiences, with some key learned-the-hard-way lessons thrown in. You’ll feel like you’ve just sat down to a great group therapy session with your best girlfriends.
What books would you recommend someone reach for after a break-up? Add your recommendations in the comments below!