Hey, we’ve all been there. Whether it was a newer love, an old love, or just a general heartbreak that comes from a cruel, cruel world, we’ve all had our hearts broken. During times of immense heartbreak, it is often difficult to decide what to read. Make the wrong choice, and you are crying all over again, because you stumbled upon someone’s pain that is too close to your own. I thought I’d put together this little guide of books that I have enjoyed and often turn to again and again, when I am going through my own difficult times.
1) 10% Happier – How I Tamed the Voice in My Head , Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story by Dan Harris. Not your typical “break-up” book, but I read this twice within two months recently, and it gave me something of a fresher outlook. Part of the problem when we are heartbroken is we cannot quiet the voices in our heads, the ones that tell us “if you had done this differently,” or “this is your fault.” Dan Harris, ABC News Anchor, has an enchanting and quite humorous way of sharing his self-help journey. The book does not go deep into the specifics of meditation and mindfulness, but it is an excellent jumping off point and makes you realize that for the most part, everyone has similar problems. The book is very down-to-earth and so darned enjoyable.
2) None of Us Will Return by Charlotte Delbo. Again, not what you would typically consider for a book to read when recovering from a broken heart, this book will make you step back and consider your own pain in a whole new light. I read this recently, and all of my problems just no longer seemed that impossible. Written by one of 230 women rounded up by the Gestapo in France and shipped to Auschwitz, she was one of the only 49 who survived the experience. Delbo’s prose and poetry are stark and sad, and very haunting. She was a beautiful author.
3) Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. It’s Amy Poehler. It was real and funny, and funnily real. It was actually not quite as funny as I would have thought, but I connected with this book, because many of the things she wrote about, I could definitely relate to. It will make you laugh, but you will end the book feeling like you and Amy are great friends.
4) Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. The man is a machine, but more than that, he’s so inspirational. From his mother’s illness to his own heartbreaking DNF’s while running, he bounced back and is such a great role model for us all, to follow your dreams, take care of your body, and eat right. I so enjoyed this book, I became an ultramarathon groupie (almost).
5) Dare Me by Megan Abbott. There is a slight possibility that if you are broken-hearted, you might be angry. This book will allow you to revel in that anger, but then will bring you back from the precipice, when you see what anger, jealousy, and stupidity can lead you to. Especially good if you are a teenager.
6) One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. Many was the night, over the years, when I was feeling blue or alone, that I would read a Stephanie Plum novel and laugh myself right out of my doldrums. Go back to the beginning, meet these unforgettable characters all over again. Stephanie and Lulu, and Stephanie’s grandmother, will have you laughing hard enough to shake the bed (I should know!) I dare you to not laugh while reading any from this series.
7) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Ahh, the eternal struggle for good and evil, plus the fate of the world in the hands of an angel and a demon, both with questionable morals. This book will have you laughing until you pee yourself, and leave you wanting more of the humor and story.
8) Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. If you’re a female, and a guy just broke your heart, read this. There are places you will be so damned angry, you can’t stand it, other places where you will laugh at the author’s antics, but mostly, you will just enjoy the writing, and the sometimes randomness of it all.
9) Timmy Failure – Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis. Okay, yes it’s supposedly a kid’s book, but for those of you who are fans of Pearls Before Swine, you will recognize Pastis’ humor. You’ll see Rat, Zeeba, and Pig in many of the characters. This is a quick read, and will have you laughing all the way through it.
10) Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. If you ever saw and loved the movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, then you should take this novel for a spin. Much of the book also involves a car, a dog, a woman of questionable gender, lots of weed, a little alcohol, and some big laughs. There’s also some heartfelt moments in here, but Chabon handles them artfully, and they are not overly sappy moments.
Just a few recommendations to help shake you out of your blues, dry your tears, and get you back on the path to laughter.
Of course, if you are just a sadist, and WANT to wallow, then might I recommend:
Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Let’s just rip our guts out through our nose, shall we?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Two boxes of Kleenex.
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Just use a spoon to scoop out my heart, Ms. Picoult.
Slavery by Another Name by Douglas Blackmon. This one will piss you off AND make you cry.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. The feels. Oh. The feels.
11/22/63 by Stephen King. An emotional romp by the master.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. The pain in this work will make you weep like a little girl with a skinned knee who just watched her dog being run over.
What are your “go-to” books when you are sad or broken-hearted? Leave me a comment below. If you enjoy this post and think someone else might, please feel free to tweet my link or share it to Facebook. Thanks!