Books For the Brokenhearted on Valentine’s Day

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Ah, here we are again, at the most romantic day of the year (debatable, maybe).  Unfortunately Valentine’s Day isn’t everyone’s day every single year. Sometimes it’s because you’re single and indifferent. Sometimes you’re coupled and indifferent. Sometimes you’re not only single but still piecing together the shards of your broken heart. If it’s not your year (there’s always the next one!), I’ve got books for you to read depending on where your heart is on the brokenhearted scale that may not only make the day more bearable but may get you further along in your efforts to get over whatever ails you.

If you want to restore your faith in love…

Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan: When in need of a pick-me -up, you really can’t go wrong with a young adult romance, and this one may be just cute enough to renew your interest in love. Though Leila hasn’t been forthcoming about her sexuality, the arrival of the beautiful and charming Saskia has her doing all sorts of things she’d never do. But as Saskia and Leila’s relationship gets more and more confusing, Leila realizes some misconceptions she’s held about Saskia and other classmates, including an old friend with secrets of her own. While this one won’t make you forget about your broken heart (there are a few plot points that will likely remind you of it), there’s a nice dash of optimism to reassure you that just because all relationships don’t work out the way you want, that doesn’t mean that will be true for all of them.

If you want to restore your faith in yourself…

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas: Broken hearts are the worst because they can make you believe things about yourself that aren’t true, as is typical of life’s downturns. If you’re in need of a reminder of your own worth, Charlotte Holmes is for you. Seasoned romance writer Sherry Thomas has an intriguing take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, where Sherlock Holmes is merely an alias for Charlotte. There’s only a smidge of romance (Charlotte calls love a “perishable good”) as our heroine focuses more on clearing her family of murder, all while coping with her new status as social outcast following a reputation-ruining scandal. Thomas captures the tone of the original material, but Charlotte is hardly just Sherlock in a dress: she’s limited by the sexism of the period, which not even her brilliant mind can bypass. She’s far from infallible, and runs into many morale-sapping obstacles, but as the (very cool) Mrs. Watson says, “Do not undervalue what you are ultimately worth because you are at a momentary disadvantage.”

If you want a reminder that love isn’t always that great anyway…

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough:  Crack open a bottle of wine (there’s lots of wine drinking in this one) and fall into the story of single mom Louise, David, and Adele. Louise is a single mom and secretary who makes a romantic connection with David, who turns out to be married–and her new boss. What initially sounds very Grey’s Anatomy gets only more complicated as Louise and Adele fall into a friendship, bonding over their night terrors while an oblivious David picks up where he left off with Louise. As Louise gets closer to both of them, she begins to unravel the mystery of David and Adele’s odd marriage. Why is David prescribing Adele medication? Why does she always have to be available to take his calls? Why does Adele seem afraid to mention that she’s made a new friend? Behind Her Eyes is unusual and riveting, with a wild ending. By the time you finish, you may be more partial to a lonely Valentine’s Day, especially if this could be the alternative.

If you really want to try putting your heart back together….

Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts by Harriet LernerIf you’re stuck on the someone who broke your heart and can’t quite figure out where to begin with mending it, Harriet Lerner is a good place to start. Using anecdotes from her life and her therapy clients, Lerner offers advice on how to apologize, how to accept apologies, and how to deal with the fact that you may never get an apology from someone–even one you deserve. Lerner stresses how to let go of anger and sadness, but she doesn’t require forgiveness in her definition of healing so feel free to withhold it all you like while still taking strides in your own life. By the time you’re done with this you’ll at least have a blueprint to moving on and you may have a few revelations about the someone who broke your heart in the first place.

If you want to wallow….

So Sad Today by Melissa Broder: Broders essays aren’t all about love, but they have their moments. This collection is an uncomfortably, impressively and enviably honest, recalling Broder’s drug use, mental health struggles and a myriad of other pains (as well as awkward-to-read things like her vomit fetish) that will make you think about all the uncomfortable and painful parts of your life. In some ways it’s very cathartic, in others it’s gutwrenching and will undoubtedly turn your mind to your cracked heart (and probably lots of other things). That being said, even Broder’s most deflating entries in this book are imbued with self awareness, acceptance, and quiet optimism and will encourage the same for you. Good for those of you who think the best way out is always through.

If you’re looking for a distraction

Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu: Maika Halfwolf survived a devastating war between humans and Arcanics, and now begins a hunt for answers. But as she begins to unravel the truth, a powerful monster within her awakens and must be fed. Literally. As Maika is hunted by foes both familiar and unknown, trusting in the monster she hates may be her best chance for survival. Unromantic, violent, with deep worldbuilding (steampunk plus monsters plus ancient beings with incredible powers), plenty of profanity, and many unanswered questions, this graphic novel is the one to dive into if you’d rather keep your mind off your shattered heart.

Here’s to hoping your Valentine’s Day passes with good books and as little heartache as possible.