4 Great Books About Relationships

Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

Sponsored by Avery / TarcherPerigee, publisher of 5 TYPES OF PEOPLE WHO CAN RUIN YOUR LIFE by Bill Eddy.

Some difficult people aren’t just hard to deal with—they’re dangerous.

When a high-conflict person has one of five common personality disorders, they can lash out in risky extremes of emotion and aggression. Bill Eddy, a lawyer and therapist with extensive mediation experience, will teach you empathy-driven conflict management techniques to protect yourself. Filled with expert advice and real-life anecdotes, 5 Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life is an essential guide to helping you escape negative relationships, build healthy connections, and safeguard your reputation and personal life in the process.

Ah, relationships. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Humans just have this knack for relating to others. And it is Hard Work. But never fear! We’re here to offer some great books about relationships—from how to be a better friend to how to be in a healthy romantic and/or sexual relationship.

If nonfiction isn’t your jam, check out these cute graphic memoirs about relationships. Or if you’re looking for ways to bring your bookishness into your relationship, we’ve got you covered.

On to the books!

There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell

How do you react when a friend tells you they have cancer? Or a coworker’s father died suddenly? Or your best pal is getting divorced? It’s probably not a great response if you’re caught off guard. This book will help with that. Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell give examples of good and bad responses to the above situations, and then explain how they’re good and bad. They taught me to be more empathetic—and to not simply respond in Annoying Optimist or Problem Solver mode. This book should be in every starter pack for humans who interact with other humans.

Sex From Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules by Sarah Mirk

This! Book! is! So! Informative! Sarah Mirk interviews people from all corners of the world and all areas of the gender spectrum about every kind of relationship. Most chapters are a lengthy interview or essay—hi, Erica Moen, Stu Rasmussen, and Tristan Taormino, among others—followed by a list of tips from that interviewee for healthy relationships. Be nice to each other. Communicate deeply before diving into polyamory. Don’t fake orgasm. Be respectful of transitioning and new identities. Be clear upfront about if you want children. Be civil and graceful when it’s time for a relationship to end. It’s a great read to broaden your idea of what a relationship could be, and is one of my new favorite books about relationships.

How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents about Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage by Jo Piazza

Jo Piazza, a travel journalist, took her work with on her honeymoon. In the months leading up to her marriage and the year after the wedding, she and her husband traveled the world, asking the people they encountered what led to a great marriage. In Chile, where dancing is integral to marriage, they learn to dance and to let the other lead.

The Museum of Broken Relationships: Modern Love in 203 Everyday Objects by Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic

When a relationship ends, the detritus that remains is painful. It’s thrown away. Burned. Donated. Shredded. Except for that one object—the wedding dress in the mason jar, the GPS, the little rubber piggy—that makes its way into boxes during every move. Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic started this little museum when their relationship ended because they wanted to remember. Since then, thousands of people have submitted notes and objects to the museum. This book is a collection of that: A sad recounting of 203 loves lost, but also a bright light, a sign of the ability to carry on.