20 Best Books To Read After A Breakup (And Some To Avoid) - Max Jancar
Download My Free Breakup Recovery Cheat Sheet

This free cheat sheet will help you emotionally recover from your breakup (whether you want your ex back or not) by giving you quick information about what to expect along recovery, as well as over 40 tips on how to recover faster.

20 Best Books To Read After A Breakup (And Some To Avoid)

By Max Jancar | Updated: January 18, 2022 | 21 Minute Read | Recovery

books to read after a breakup

Click play to listen to this article.

I got into my first breakup when I was 15. It sucked. But luckily I turned to books. I read just about every book that made me feel better about myself. Some of them made me want to soak my eyes with bleach. Others changed my entire life. These are the two types of books I’ll be addressing in this article: the best books to read after a breakup and the worst.

…Starting with the worst.

The Worst Books To Read After A Breakup

Three words: breakup recovery books. Seriously.

Most breakup recovery books are a total rip-off. Boring, bland, and repetitive. Filled with shallow, impractical, and idealistic advice. One-dimensional, superficial, oversimplifying, and cheesy. And, of course, each one is oozing with regurgitated information from every other generic D-list self-development book.

It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken. This Is Me Letting You Go. Breakup Manual For Men. Breakup Bootcamp. The Breakup Tool Kit. Who Am I Without You? The Breakup Bible… You name it.

All of these books sucked to a degree. And they more or less told the same platitudes: no-contact rule, affirmations, regaining confidenceunderstanding grief, vague relationship advice, breakup stages, long-winding pep talks, etc.

That said, there are some gems on the market that deserve to be called out. These books are not perfect by any means, and I still won’t include them in my “Top Books To Read After A Breakup” list, but they’re worth a mention.

Just remember that once you read two or three breakup recovery related books, you’ve probably read most of them.

The Best Books To Read After A Breakup

Note: The links below are affiliate links. I will get a commission if you click through and make a purchase with no additional cost to you. Also, the books are listed in no particular order. Enjoy.

1. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck – By Mark Manson

Subtle Art book to read after a breakup

If you’re a long-time reader of the site, you knew this was coming. This orange fucker here got me out of several existential and identity crises, and shifted my entire outlook on love, relationships, and life.

This is, quite literally, the ultimate book to read after your breakup. And if you love my work, you’ll love this book.

It’s a book that’s all about growth and 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.

Buy The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck On Amazon

Top Quote:

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.

2. Everything Is Fucked: A Book About Hope — By Mark Manson

Everything Is Fcked Book

That’s right, I just recommended two books from the same author (just wait for the third). Sue me.

Mark’s second book is similar in topics to The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck. However, it takes a much more philosophical approach to self-development. It’s a much deeper, less personal, and better-written work.

While the Subtle Art questions our conventional wisdom on what makes us happy, Everything Is Fucked questions our assumptions on what makes life worth living.

The two biggest highlights of this book were on pain and problems.

This book was also a big inspiration for my Radical Recovery Course, specifically the first few lessons on pain and acceptance.

Buy Everything Is Fucked On Amazon

Top Quote:

Because pain is the universal constant of life, the opportunities to grow from that pain are constant in life. All that is required is that we don’t numb it, that we don’t look away. All that is required is that we engage it and find the value and meaning in it.

3. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life – By Henry Cloud

Boundaries Book

Boundaries helps you set well, err… proper boundaries! Be that with your partner, friends, or family members.

The book also gives advice on how to keep your boundaries intact no matter the shitstorm life throws at you. It’s a great read altogether. It was so great, in fact, that I wrote an article on boundaries based on the book.

The only thing I didn’t like about Boundaries 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 plus. If so, more power to you. As for me, I wasn’t a fan.

Buy Boundaries On Amazon

Top Quote:

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.

4. Stillness is the Key: An Ancient Strategy for Modern Life – By Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday

If you’ve been reading my articles, you’ve probably noticed that I steal lots of ideas from Stoicism and Ryan Holiday.

I can’t help it. Like with Mark Manson’s principles, I love his take on letting go, journaling, meditating, living a virtuous life, embracing and learning from pain, and living in the present moment.

At its very core, Stillness Is the Key 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, reveals to you how to die well.

Buy Stillness Is Key On Amazon

Top Quote:

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.

5. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work — By John Gottman

Gottman Book

Want to learn how to effectively communicate with your next (or current) partner so your fights don’t evolve into toxic shitshows and end in a breakup? If so, pick up this book.

The Seven Principles doesn’t only teach you how to make a relationship work. It also teaches you what to do if your relationship faces problems like arguments, miscommunication, and resentment build-ups.

While this book is a bit academic and filled with practical exercises that not everyone is a fan of, it’s still an insightful read, and one of the better books I’ve read after a breakup.

Buy Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work On Amazon

Top Quote:

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.

6. Whole Again: Healing Your Heart and Rediscovering Your True Self After Toxic Relationships and Emotional Abuse – By Jackson MacKenzie

Whole Again Book

Whole Again 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.

It also contains factual, pragmatic, and verified advice on recovering from a toxic relationship, moving on, and finding yourself again.

If you’re someone who had a relationship that involved lying, cheating, manipulation, or any other form of abuse, this is the book for you.

Buy Whole Again On Amazon

Top Quote:

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.

7. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones – by James Clear

Habits Book

From afar, Atomic Habits does seem like a simple book on building good habits and breaking bad ones. But when you get into it, you’ll see that there’s much more to it than that.

It 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 jam-packed with easy and practical exercises, life-applicable formulas, proven principles, and real-world examples of people making tiny and ordinary changes in their lifestyle to achieve massive and extraordinary results.

Buy Atomic Habits On Amazon

Top Quote:

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.

8. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are – by Brene Brown

Gifts Book

This book is difficult to label. In one way, it’s a self-improvement book, but then again, it isn’t. For The Gifts Of Imperfection, is not so much about improving yourself as it is about accepting yourself.

And despite my struggles to relate to certain sections of the book, like the ones on kids and family, It’s still a beautiful, profound, and brilliant piece of writing. It will change your outlook on life. And It will probably shift the way you see yourself.

Buy The Gifts of Imperfection On Amazon

Top Quote:

Perfectionism is not the same thing as 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.

9. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples – by Harville Hendrix

Love Book

The same problems that plague breakup-related books also plague relationship-related books: vague, generic and, shoddy self-help advice. But Getting The Love You Want is different.

This book helps you realize why your past relationships failed and how to make your future ones succeed in excruciating detail. It’s the complete opposite of vague and generic.

The book also filled with logical and well-researched advice rooted is psychotherapy, and approaches building healthy relationships with others through building a healthy one with yourself first.

Buy Getting the Love You Want On Amazon

Top Quote:

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.

10. Models: Attract Women Through Honesty – by Mark Manson

Models Book

I know. I’m harping on Mark too much for one article. Fuck it. You should really read the guy’s books.

And yes, I know this is a man’s book, but women read it too. And I know it might seem like your typical pump and dump instruction-manual, but it’s not. This book is a very different beast.

Models teaches you how to build a solid emotional foundation, reach emotional maturity, and make deep and meaningful emotional connections with others — specifically those you’re attracted to.

It’s also the book which principles underpin most of what I’m writing about on this blog.

Buy Models On Amazon

Top Quote:

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.

11. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself — By Kristin Neff

Self-Compassion Book

Self-Compassion, as a subject, is often ridiculed and made fun of. Most people assume it’s some hippie new-age nonsense without any scientific grounding.

In reality, self-compassion carries many benefits, and is a legit field of psychology. And Neff Kristin is one of the leading researchers in it.

In her book, Self-Compassion, she gives you the full package: the theory around self-compassion, real-life examples of people before/after they started practicing self-compassion, and exercises on how to practice self-compassion yourself.

Self-Compassion is also the book that inspired my article on self-love and the entire module on loving yourself in my Radical Recovery Course.

Buy Self-Compassion On Amazon

Top Quote:

Painful feelings are, by their very nature, temporary. They will weaken over time as long as we don’t prolong or amplify them through resistance or avoidance. The only way to eventually free ourselves from debilitating pain, therefore, is to be with it as it is. The only way out is through.

12. The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth — By M.Scott Peck

Roads Book

The Road Less Traveled is a timeless self-help classic. One of the best books to read after a breakup, hands down. It’s one of the very few self-self works that takes a down-to-earth approach to its themes. One of the best instances of this is actually right at the beginning of the book with its famous opening line, “Life is difficult.”

In The Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck explores the nature of love and loving, healthy relationships, and what it takes to live a meaningful and happy life.

For me, the biggest plus of The Road Less Traveled was the writing style. Most self-help books feel like I’m either in a lecture or am talking with someone who thinks their view of the world is the only correct one.

Mr.Peck, on the other hand, does a beautiful job at being relatable and not sounding like some entitled guru, but rather a genuine and humble friend.

Buy The Road Less Travelled On Amazon

Top Quote:

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

13. Attached: The New Science Of Adult Attachment And How It Can Help You Get And Keep Love — By Amir Levine

Attached Book

Attached is not only one of the most important books I read after my breakup, it’s one of the most important books I’ve read in my life.

For a long time, I was obsessive, controlling, and clingy when it came to my romantic relationships (I had what Mr.Levine calls an anxious attachment style). I also knew I should change, but I didn’t know how.

Well, this book helped me change. It gave me a plan on how to become less obsessive, controlling, and clingy. It even helped me understand where those unattractive tendencies were coming from. And it can help you get the same results.

In fact, even if you’re on the opposite side of the spectrum  — you’re afraid to open up, avoid intimacy, and are scared of commitment — this book will help you transform into a more secure and confident person who won’t be so affected by those emotional hangups.

If you’re interested in this topic, I also urge you to read my article on attachment types, which is basically a summation of the core concepts from Attached.

Buy Attached On Amazon

Top Quote:

Instead of thinking how you can change yourself in order to please your partner, as so many relationship books advise, think: Can this person provide what I need in order to be happy?

14. The No Contact Rule – By Natalie Lue

Natalie Lue is the writer behind Baggage Reclaim — a remarkably successful blog on helping people, as she says, “eliminate emotional baggage clutter for better relationships, self-esteem and work.”

Her blog is also an excellent resource for anyone dealing with a breakup. I highly recommend it! Same for her book.

Talking of her book, it basically goes over the same concepts I go through in my article on no contact, but unpacks them even further. For those uninitiated, no contact translates, to simply cutting your ex out of your life, so you can get over a breakup faster.

Now, I’ll admit. The book, while still one of the best books to read after a breakup, has problems. Some parts are stretched out more than they should be. Some sections repeat the same concepts and ideas from other ones. In general, sometimes, the book just feels bland.

Yet, this is still the definitive book on no contact, and Natalie’s writing is transcendentally beautiful.

Buy The No Contact Rule On Amazon

Top Quote:

You only have one life to lead — you have better things to do with your time and emotions than remaining tied to someone who does not truly value you.

15. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance — By Angela Duckworth

Grit

Grit is one of the few books on success and productivity worth reading. In it Angela Duckworth does two things:

One, argues that talent and intelligence matter less than grit: her word for perseverance, focus, endurance, and constant improvement.

Two, explores what grit is, where it comes from, how it drives success, and how you can develop it.

In terms of style, the book is similar to atomic habits (which is a great thing, by the way): lots of rags-to-riches stories, real-world examples of grit, and even personal stories from the author that many of us can relate to.

Buy Grit On Amazon

Top Quote:

…there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time―longer than most people imagine….you’ve got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people….Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it…it’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.

16. The Body Keeps the Score — By Bessel van der Kolk

Chances are, your breakup was pretty traumatic. And whether you realize it or not, the trauma you’ve had from it will scar you for life — some people more than others.

Now you’re probably wondering: What effects does trauma have on your mental, emotional, and physical health? Why is it so difficult to lessen the pain? How can you grow in spite of your traumatic event? What can you do to feel better right now?

These are some of the key questions Bessel van der Kolk answers in The Body Keeps The Score, the definite book on post-traumatic growth.

Just a heads-up: the book is at times technical, but nothing a seasoned reader of my blog can’t understand. If you’ve been reading my articles on trauma and pain, you’ll be just fine with this book.

Buy The Body Keeps the Score On Amazon

Top Quote:

Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.

17. Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief — By David Kessler

Sixth Stage Of Grief

Finding Meaning is an extension of The 5 Stages Of Grief put forward by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist. It’s also the book that inspired one of my most popular articles: The 8 Stages Of A Breakup.

In it, David Kessler, apart from recapping the previous five stages of grief and exploring the nature of grief and how society supports it, in detail describes, as the title implies, the sixth stage of grief.

Now, the sixth stage of grief is a massive discovery. It essentially boils down to a period in one’s life where a person needs to create an empowering meaning around their inherently-meaningless loss.

For example, instead of seeing their breakup as evidence that they’re a bad or flawed person, they can see it as an opportunity for personal growth.

Buy Finding Meaning On Amazon

Top Quote:

Each person’s grief is as unique as their fingerprint. But what everyone has in common is that no matter how they grieve, they share a need for their grief to be witnessed. That doesn’t mean needing someone to try to lessen it or reframe it for them. The need is for someone to be fully present to the magnitude of their loss without trying to point out the silver lining.

18. The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem — By Nathaniel Branden

Nathaniel Branden is the originator of the concept of self-esteem. And The Six Pillars is his definitive book on the topic, making it one of the best books to read after a breakup. Because you know… your self-esteem is probably fucked right now.

In the book, Nathaniel talks about how self-esteem is a fundamental human need that makes us more resilient and better at coping with life’s lemons.

He goes on to propose an elaborate plan for raising our self-esteem. As you’d expect, it has six parts — or pillars. These are living consciously, self-acceptance, responsibility, assertiveness, living purposefully, and personal integrity.

All wildly important concepts that I frequently write about.

Buy The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem On Amazon

Top Quote:

Some people stand and move as if they have no right to the space they occupy. They wonder why others often fail to treat them with respect—not realizing that they have signalled others that it is not necessary to treat them with respect.

19. No More Mr.Nice Guy — By Robert A. Glover

NiceGuy

No More Mr. Nice Guy is a book everyone going through a breakup should read, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Because needy behavior is, in most cases, the reason, you got into a breakup in the first place.

On a more general note, if you’re the kind of person who sacrifices themselves too much for others, seeks validation or confirmation that they’re still loved, and simply has a hard time respecting themselves, this is the book for you.

It goes over many of the same topics that I cover on my blog. And while some parts err on the side of bro-science, there’s a lot of validity in the book — along with healthy and helpful advice. Don’t pass it up.

Buy No More Mr.Nice Guy On Amazon

Top Quote:

In general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy. Humans connect with humans. Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.

20. The Breakup Recovery Manual – By Max Jancar

Recovery Manual Best Books To Read After A Breakup

Did I just plug my own book in here? Yes. Yes, I did.

Sure it’s awkward to include my own book in this list, but it’s my site. And I wrote a pretty good book. Hell, it’s probably one of the better books to read after a breakup.

At least, that’s what I and some of my readers think. Pick it up and decide for yourself.

Learn More About The Breakup Recovery Manual

If you need more more help healing from your breakup, check out my Radical Recovery Course. With over 5h of video, 200 pages of writing, and personalized 1-on-1 coaching, I'll walk you through every step of the recovery process from start to finish.

Download My Free Breakup Recovery Cheat Sheet

This free cheat sheet will help you emotionally recover from your breakup (whether you want your ex back or not) by giving you quick information about what to expect along recovery, as well as over 40 tips on how to recover faster.

Keep Reading

Download My Free Breakup Recovery Cheat Sheet

This free cheat sheet will help you emotionally recover from your breakup (whether you want your ex back or not) by giving you quick information about what to expect along recovery, as well as over 40 tips on how to recover faster.


Not Interested.

Download My Free Breakup Recovery Cheat Sheet

This free cheat sheet will help you emotionally recover from your breakup (whether you want your ex back or not) by giving you quick information about what to expect along recovery, as well as over 40 tips on how to recover faster.


Not Interested.