I was 15 when I first heard that dreaded phrase – “This just isn’t going to work anymore.” It felt like someone pressed my ribs together until they split in half, and, with one clumsy and swift motion, one of them punctured my heart.
My future faded before my eyes that day. For a moment, I felt like I was floating in a vacuum, but I soon realized that I wasn’t. I was sprawling on the cold hard ground of my personal rock bottom. It sucked. There was also no Internet connection, which sucked even more.
Luckily, at that rock-bottom, I turned to books. I read just about any book that made me feel better about myself. Some of them blessed me with a desire to guzzle bottles of bleach. But others left me with tears of joy, immensely bettered my broken heart, and changed my fucking life.
Those are the two types of books I’ll be addressing in this article.
At the start, I will tell you about 336 books that you should avoid at all costs, and then I will list 10 potentially life-changing ones that you should read right away.
Top 336 books to not read after a breakup
90% of breakup recovery books.
Yes, you read that right. 90% of breakup recovery books are a total rip-off. And the ideas in them…well, you can find most of them on the Internet. For free.”
There. Someone had to say it.
I bet you didn’t see this one coming.
If I had a trophy for the crappiest breakup recovery book, I would probably give it to Greg Behrendt.
Seriously, his Book, It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken, literally encapsulates everything wrong with breakup recovery books worldwide.
It’s one-dimensional, superficial, oversimplifying, and cheesy. It’s oozing with information from every other generic D-list self-development book. And it speaks to a group of naive and gullible (yet, profitable) teens and younger adults.
Nevertheless, this writers-sin is not exclusive to Greg. I just used his work as an illustration. There are hundreds of other people who produce the same kind of vague fluff-pieces. And at their worst, total scams.
After reading most breakup-themed books on the market, I also noticed that they all carry more or less the same themes: visualization, meditation, gratitude lists, no-contact rule, affirmations, regaining confidence, understanding grief, grief stages, dating, vague relationship advice, empty pep-talks, etc.
Again, I’m sorry to be a downer, but this is my honest opinion. Maybe I’ve just read so many breakup recovery books and written so much on breakups in general that they got boring for me. Or, I’m just right.
And no, I’m not saying all of the above so that you wouldn’t buy books from my “competitors.” (I wouldn’t say they are.)
What I’m really trying to do is save you time AND expose you to potentially life-altering works filled with novel ideas that do way more than just help you recover from a breakup.
Nevertheless, If you really want to pick up a vanilla breakup recovery book, I recommend this one by Susan J. Elliott. I think it has the best ideas and concepts compared to the other ones on the same topic.
And If you’re a dude, also consider picking up No Breakup Can Break You, by Nick Dawson. It’s a breakup recovery book catered explicitly towards men. The ideas inside are nothing special, but the writing is incredible.
Ultimately, Just remember that once you read one, maybe two, breakup recovery books, you’ve probably read 90% of them.
Top 10 books to read after a breakup
The boring disclosure thingy: The links below are affiliate links, meaning that I will get a commission if you click through and make a purchase. With no additional cost to you, of course.
Note: The books are listed in no particular order.
If you’re a long time reader of the site, you knew this was coming.
Of course, I’m recommending the book that a) inspired me to double down on writing in my professional life, b) got me out of many existential and identity dilemmas, and c) radically shifted my entire outlook on self-development and life in general.
In essence, as Mark puts it, The subtle art is all about self-improvement, not through avoiding problems or always being happy, but rather through engaging and improving upon problems and learning to accept the occasional unhappiness.
“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”
As the title suggests, the book helps you set proper boundaries with your partner, friends, and family members and gives you advice on how to keep them intact no matter the shitstorm life throws at you. It’s a great read altogether. It even inspired this article.
The only thing I didn’t like about the book were countless cases of religious-prattle thrown in. I don’t know about you. Maybe you’re into religion and will find this aspect of the work a giant plus. If so, more power to you. But for me…well, I wasn’t a fan of the author’s constant bible citations.
“We can’t manipulate people into swallowing our boundaries by sugarcoating them. Boundaries are a “litmus test” for the quality of our relationships. Those people in our lives who can respect our boundaries will love our wills, our opinions, our separateness. Those who can’t respect our boundaries are telling us that they don’t love our nos. They only love our yeses, our compliance. “I only like it when you do what I want.”
If you’ve been reading my articles, you’ve probably noticed that I borrow (steal) many ideas from Stoicism, or more specifically, from Ryan Holiday.
I can’t help it. Like with Mark Manson’s principles, I love his take on letting go, journaling and meditating, living a virtuous life, embracing pain, learning from pain, and living in the present moment.
At its very core, this book teaches you how to live a fulfilling, peaceful, and meaningful life no matter how good/bad you have it, and then, when it’s time, it reveals to you how to die well. It’s one of Ryan’s best works.
“The gift of free will is that in this life we can choose to be good or we can choose to be bad. We can choose what standards to hold ourselves to and what we will regard as important, honorable, and admirable. The choices we make in that regard determine whether we will experience peace or not.”
Want to avoid a future breakup, and learn how to communicate with your next (or current) partner effectively, so your fights don’t evolve into toxic drama? If so, do yourself a favor and pick up this damn book. Seriously.
The book doesn’t only teach you how to make a relationship work. Hell no! Gottman went way farther than that. The book also teaches you what to do if a steady relationship ever goes south – constant arguments, toxic arguments, trivial arguments, miscommunication, resentment build-ups, intimacy problems, etc.
It’s truly the ultimate book for anyone who wants to have a healthy and lasting relationship.
“Once you understand this, you will be ready to accept one of the most surprising truths about marriage: Most marital arguments cannot be resolved. Couples spend year after year trying to change each other’s mind—but it can’t be done. This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality, or values. By fighting over these differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their marriage.”
This book is a beast. It’s dense, it’s long, and it doesn’t treat you like a glue-eating buffoon like many other books in the same genre do. It also contains factual, pragmatic, and verified advice on recovering from a toxic relationship, moving on, and finding yourself again.
So if you’re someone who had a relationship that involved lying, cheating, manipulation, or any other forms of abuse, this is the book for you.
“As we learn that we’re responsible for our own emotions, we become more comfortable with the idea that others are responsible for their own emotions too. With this mindset, we can finally relax—and begin to heal.”
From afar, Atomic Habits is a simple, short book on building good habits and breaking bad ones. But when you start reading it, you’ll see that there’s much more to it than that.
It further teaches you how to overcome a lack of motivation, design your environment for maximum productivity, and develop a sturdier identity through habit formation.
It’s also full of practical exercises, life-applicable formulas, proven principles, and real-world examples of people making tiny changes in their lifestyle to achieve extraordinary results.
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
This book is difficult to label. In one way, It is a self-improvement book, but then again, it isn’t. In other words, It’s not so much about improving yourself, but instead accepting yourself, with all of your flaws and weird quirks.
And despite my struggles to relate to certain sections of the book, like the ones on kids and family, It’s still a beautiful and profound work full of great evergreen ideas. It will change your outlook on life. And It will probably shift the way you see yourself.
“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”
Like breakup recovery books, many that contain relationship-advice are just as vague, cheesy, and filled with generic and often shoddy self-help know-how. But this one from Hendrix truly stands out.
His book enables you to realize why your past relationships failed and how to make your future ones succeed. It’s also filled with logical, well-researched, and sound advice.
At its core, Getting The Love You Want helps you cultivate healthier relationships by first developing a healthy one with yourself.
“Helen and I like to think of two people in a conscious love relationship as companion stars. Each person is a unique individual ablaze with potential. One is just as important as the other, and each has a unique and equally valid view of the universe. Yet, together, they form a greater whole, kept connected by the pull of mutual love and respect. They mirror the interconnected universe.”
I know I’m harping on Mark too much for one article, but fuck it. I know this is a man’s book, but women read it too. And I know it might look like your typical get the date, then pump and dump instruction-manual, but it’s not – far from it.
It’s actually a solid book that teaches you how to build a durable emotional foundation and emotional connection with others that will greatly serve you in love and life.
“Challenge yourself to find the good and beautiful thing inside of everyone. It’s there. It’s your job to find it. Not their job to show you.”
“Dude, did you just plug your own book in here?”
Yes. Yes, I did.
It may be tacky to include my own book on this list, I agree. But then again, fuck it. It’s a good book. It contains over 40 exercises to help you get over an ex faster and rebuild your life.
And, it’s probably way better than any other dull breakup book on the market. At least, that’s what most of my readers think. Pick it up and decide for yourself.
The trap I see most of my readers fall into when it comes to any self-improvement book is not taking any action after reading it.
Let me be clear here.
You can’t possibly recover from your loss, improve your productivity, learn something new, or raise the overall quality of your life to a satisfying point just by reading self-improvement books, even if they are the best in the world. You have to ponder and reflect on the knowledge presented in those books and apply what’s applicable of that knowledge.
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