Books to Read After a Break-Up or Divorce
A compilation of our picks as well as those from our readers and loved ones who have endured a break-up, separation, or divorce.
"A novel about the derangement provoked by abandonment – not a sanitised kind of madness, but the real, dark thing. It opens with Olga’s husband walking out on her and their two young children for a younger woman. The unravelling of Olga’s internal world is as ugly as it is compelling, with terrifying jeopardy to the children and a dog. This is a book where the freedom and power of Ferrante’s anonymity is put to full use in writing that is driven by a ruthless honesty.”
“This story of a lonely woman’s love for an unattainable man caused George Eliot to cry: ‘Villette! Villette! It is a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre. There is something almost preternatural in its power.’ As Virginia Woolf put it, the book expresses ‘untamed ferocity perpetually at war with the accepted order of things.’
Villette tells the story of Lucy Snowe – a cauldron of repressed emotion and desire. “Deeper than melancholy,” Snowe says, “lies heart-break.” This was Brontë’s last novel and for many her finest.”
“Fitzgerald based this novel on the end of his own marriage with Zelda Fitzgerald, and it doesn’t pull any punches. The protagonists are sucked into a jazz-age downward spiral, fueled by alcohol and fast living. It’s a dark book, but it’s a good reminder that you’re not the only one who has dealt with a bad breakup.”
“Diaz’s story is one of redemption. It focuses on a protagonist who seems incapable of treating his lovers well. Diaz humanizes his leading man, though, and ultimately shows us that everyone can grow from lost love.”
If you're feeling disoriented and want someone to commiserate, this is your book. Lahiri's second short story collection gives us characters confronted by change and feelings of alienation — in issues of home, identity, family, and love — and shows how we adapt accordingly, in time.
"If you want to witness endurance and perseverance, this might be a good support for you. Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love as teenagers in Nigeria, but never forget their young passion even after both struggle through separate ex-pat lives in the U.S. and the U.K., respectively.
I Love Dick blends art with infatuation. In a controversial novel that is somewhere between fiction and autobiography, one woman's obsession with an art and culture theorist leads to a series of self-revelatory letters and meditations on art, feminism, anxiety, and desire.
Although it’s not Murakami’s finest work—look at “Kafka on the Shore” or “Wind Up Bird Chronicle” for that—it is a captivating journal of reflecting on the past & how it’s never late to begin anew. Murakami began long-distance running in his thirties, and he uses this decades-long passion as a lens through which he examines his victories, his pitfalls, his decision to become a writer, and the monumental ways in which his life improved after middle age.
And if you’re not up to reading a book, here are some articles for support
Dear Sugars: How Do You Let Go of Your Deepest Regrets? by The New York Times
I’ve Shed the Emotional Baggage of Divorce. But What About All This Stuff? by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond
Untying the Knot, and Bonds, of Marriage by Abby Ellin
“An Optimist’s Guide to Divorce” by Elizabeth R. Covington