So, maybe Valentine’s Day didn’t go too well for you, or you’ve been in the doghouse for a while, and it’s finally the end. What to do? Well, if you’re anything like us, you’ll look for solace in a book, of course. For those of you who had a less than successful Valentine’s Day (or any day, for that matter), we’ve put together an essential post-breakup reading list, to help you get through the hard times. After all, a book can do almost everything a significant other can — give you companionship, make you laugh, and make you look cool at parties — but er, don’t try to cuddle with it. We have options for every kind of relationship mourner — those who like to wallow, those who need a little fictional guidance, those who need an attitude adjustment, and those who want to forget the whole thing entirely and focus on something else. Click through to read our reading list for the lonely hearted, and let us know which books have gotten you through the break up blues in the comments!
Home Land , Sam Lipsyte
This book is made up of a series of letters to a high school alumni newsletter, sent in by the newly single Lewis Miner, otherwise known as “Teabag,” whose life, as he puts it, “did not pan out.” One of the very funny Lipsyte’s very funniest works, you’ll laugh, you’ll commiserate, you’ll thank the stars you’re not washing dishes for your dad’s catering business. And hey, maybe you’ll get an idea as to how to get out all your post-breakup angst — writing letters to your old high school classmates. We can’t recommend it, though.
Self-Help , Lorrie Moore
Lots of people will prescribe self-help books for you at times like these — How To Win Back Your Man (And If You Have Time, Your Self Respect!) — but Lorrie Moore is all the self-help we need. This perfect collection of short stories runs the emotional gamut in Moore’s razor-sharp, wry voice, but it’s guaranteed to have you raising an eyebrow at everything rather than going to pieces over it.
Love in the Time of Cholera , Gabriel Garcia Marquez
For those who like to wallow in their romanticism post-breakup, this book examines almost every type of love possible, from the passionate to the platonic to the tragically unrequited. It is a study of love as myth, of love as friendship, of love as life, and may just remind those who feel like they’ll never feel all warm and fuzzy again that they’re pretty much bound to, one way or another.
High Fidelity , Nick Hornby
Not only is this novel funny and filled with great music to take your mind off things, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you’re probably not quite as much of a mess as 30-something adolescent Rob Fleming (or you can take comfort in the fact that you’ve just broken up with him). Either way, we still subscribe to his method of dealing with things — after all, this split doesn’t really make your top five breakups list, does it?
The entire Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin
Sometimes after a really horrific breakup, nothing will do but pure escapism. Luckily, George R.R. Martin has you covered with 5,000-odd pages (and tiny print) of an engrossing, enormous universe, full of wolves, harsh justice, and brutality — and perfect for you to get lost in. Plus, it will remind you of the importance of family, and there’s no lovey-dovey stuff (or at least not a lot).
Gone With the Wind , Margaret Mitchell
If you’re the bookish version of the girl (or boy, no judgements) who spends a week watching old black and white romantic films and downing three quarts of chocolate ice cream a day when one of your relationships is over, this is the book for you. And hopefully, by the time you’re through, you’ll be able to utter that oh-so-very famous line yourself, and mean it: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
A Brief History of Time , Stephen Hawking
Because sometimes all you need is a little bit of perspective. Plus, having read this will totally help you land that next über-nerdy girl or guy, and we all know nerds are the best significant others ever.
The End of the Affair, Graham Greene
A desperate, passionately moving love story for those who need pure catharsis. Yes, it will make a shattered post-breakup soul cry their eyes out, but they’ll probably be better for it afterwards.
Bridget Jones’s Diary , Helen Fielding
A break-up classic, this book will not only have you laughing and blessing your own relatively normal habits, but it may just remind you that no matter what nonsense you put yourself through, there’s someone out there who’s going to like you just the way you are. And that you shouldn’t settle for anything less.
Lucky Jim , Kingsley Amis
This is one of the best comic novels of all time, guaranteed to make you laugh your face off. And maybe you’ll pick up a tip or two from old Jim Dixon on how to shrug off all your worries.