“The course of true love never did run smooth.”- Shakespeare
Shakespeare was right I guess. And, because usually love never runs smoothly, there are great authors who write about it. Here are some great book recommendations if you like to read. Enjoy!
The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
This novel was recommended many, many times before I actually sat down and read it. I had been told it was a “super realistic” portrayal of a relationship, and that sounded depressing to me. Why would I want to read a dose of reality when I can get a dose of reality just by existing? How wrong I was. (In fact, I’ve read it multiple times since.) The story of one couple’s long-term relationship is indeed realistic but captures the kind of hopes, fears, insecurities, and longing that each of us thinks is ours alone. A gorgeous novel.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Fun fact: I watched this movie in 2017 with my ex-husband while he already cheated on me and I did not know. He fell asleep during the movie.
Have you ever been wronged? Cookbook writer Rachel Samstat knows the feeling. She is seven months pregnant and just discovered that her husband (a man who is “capable of having sex with a Venetian blind”) is having an affair. Thus begins this novel, based on real events from Ephron’s life, which manages to turn a terrible situation comedic, as only she could. Bonus: The chapters have recipes interspersed throughout. Nora Ephron – one of my favorite writers of all time!
What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
Sometimes, I need a hug. Sometimes, I need tough love. Sometimes, it helps to hear that someone else has been through whatever I am going through. This book has all of that, plus some. A collection of Oprah’s beloved “What I Know For Sure” columns from O Magazine, these short essays on tumultuous relationships, self-esteem, friendship, career, connection, resilience, and finding your way span the full range of human emotions and feel like a deep talk with a good friend. I’ve turned to them over and over again through different stages, and expect I will do so for years to come.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I was never into YA (young adult) literature before I read Eleanor & Park. This YA book about two teens who meet on a bus is the perfect account of young love — that idyllic, all-encompassing feeling unlike any other. For any parents of teens, it’s a great reminder of that time of life. For everyone else, don’t let the YA label deter you. Though it’s about teens, the feelings of love are so universal, this book is really for everyone.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I think this book was mandatory reading in every High school, college and literature class in the world. Hailed as one of the most beloved love stories of all time, Austen’s classic reminds us that romance has been complicated and annoying for centuries. Set in rural England, the book follows the five, very different, Bennet sisters, whom matriarch Mrs. Bennet cannot wait to marry off. Though I am incapable of reading without imaging nearly every character being played by Colin Firth, her novels never cease to amaze me. Such sharp wit, brilliant observations, timeless emotions. This one really holds up. The movie is awesome, too.
The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh
I am studying linguistics and I am aware of the importance of good, quality communication. We all should be because communication is the foundation of all human relationships, and this book is perfect for all humans, no matter where you are or what chapter you are currently in. The celebrated monk and author discusses how to listen mindfully and express your most authentic self. I especially loved his concept of conversation as a source of nourishment. With goodness or toxicity, you absorb, like food. With specific examples for individuals, couples, and families, this book can lead us all to more loving communication.
All About Love by bell hooks
A real gem. No list about books on love would be complete without this book by scholar, cultural critic, and feminist bell hooks. A treatise devoted to answering the question “What is love?”, it includes lines like “the word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet… we would all love better if we used it as a verb,” after which my life was never the same again. While the text skews frustratingly hetero-normative, this provocative and profound book is a must-read.
Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson
This book is on my nightstand patiently waiting to be read. So, full disclosure: I haven’t read this book yet, but three of my friends have and all said it greatly helped them. The book’s approach is based on attachment theory and promises to help couples break free of ‘demon dialogue’ to communicate more effectively. The reviews, and there are a lot of them, are glowing.
I finished Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love in one day and loved it. I read it at the right time in my life. Committed came in handy when I went through my divorce. I wanted to read Gilbert’s view on marriage after her really terrible divorce. From previous experience, I am now skeptical about marriage and the whole concept behind it. It was really interesting to see Gilbert in a predicament where another marriage is the only way to be with her partner, Felipe, then get set on a journey to make peace with it. I enjoyed the interesting facts and interviews with people on their trips throughout the book and loved that there was so much relatable material. Is it for everyone? I think anyone that has been in a relationship/marriage, is currently in one or struggles with divorce can take something away from this read.