The 14th of February. Can’t wait? Dreading it? Couldn’t care less? However you’re feeling about Valentine’s Day, and no matter your romantic status, you’ll find something that resonates with you in one of these 14 nonfiction books about love and relationships.
Love, of course, is complex — as is our drive to understand it — so it’s no wonder there are so many books about love and relationships out there. Whether you’re looking for a fresh perspective on love itself, searching for anecdotes that will help strengthen your marriage, or hoping to be inspired with real talk about the dating scene, this list contains a variety of titles by a diverse group of authors guaranteed to give you plenty to mull long after Valentine’s Day has come and gone.
Books About Love For Any Stage of Life
Whether you’re newly in love or celebrating a milestone anniversary, it’s never a bad idea to deepen your understanding of your romantic relationship — and that’s just what these books about love are designed to help you do.
Let’s start with a few books that dig deeper into what love really is:
Love can be mysterious — and messy. Readers who are ready to view dating, marriage, and sex through a more analytical lens will appreciate Dr. Hannah Fry’s mathematical approach. From identifying the patterns that appear behind common love rituals to applying a formula to calculate the chance of finding lasting love in a singles bar, Fry offers strategies and explanations to help readers navigate the complicated journey of love and romance.
From math to art:
The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh
Feeling inspired to dig deep into your emotions and relate to your loved ones with absolute authenticity? It’s not easy to think beyond the frustrations and misunderstandings that love inevitably provokes, but Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh offers practical advice alongside examples from his work with couples and families to help readers learn the communication skills that can significantly impact their relationships and their happiness.
Here’s another philosophical take on love:
All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks
In this book, scholar and feminist bell hooks takes a deep dive into the concept of love itself. After examining her own search for connection, she challenges readers to set aside the notion that ideal love is all about romance, sex, and desire and offers them a new way to think about love: by focusing on compassion, unity, and forgiveness. It’s a love, she hopes, with the potential to heal both individuals and society as a whole.
And a more unconventional philosophical take:
What Love Is: And What it Could Be by Carrie Jenkins
For readers who are prepared to totally rethink love, these anecdotes and cultural and scientific reflections will provide plenty of inspiration. Jenkins examines the social and physical factors of love, the recent increase in acceptance of homosexual, interracial, and non-monogamous relationships, and her own motivations when it comes to connection. The author invites readers to accept the complexities and decide for themselves what it means when they say “I love you” to someone else.
Now that we’ve explored books around defining love, let’s move on to a book that defines love’s companion, sex.
What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex by Hilda Hutcherson, M.D.
After years of advising patients in her OB-GYN practice, Dr. Hilda Hutcherson figured there must be a lot of women out there who had the same questions — so she wrote a book to give them the answers. Her engaging, honest talk about everything from anatomy and orgasms to aphrodisiacs and birth control isn’t just informative for women. According to multiple reader reviews, men find her book just as helpful in understanding how to tackle sexual challenges as well as how to achieve pleasurable experiences. And there’s even a chapter designed to help mothers talk to their daughters honestly about sex and sexuality.
And now for some practical advice about strengthening relationships, whether you need it now or you want to arm yourself with knowledge for the future:
Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson, EdD
This book about love is penned by an experienced clinical psychologist and creator of a practice called Emotionally Focused Therapy. Dr. Sue Johnson believes that solid relationships are built on preserving the attachment bond. She guides couples through seven conversations that will help them recognize key moments that stand in the way of maintaining a safe emotional connection. Her practical exercises are supplemented with case studies from her practice and designed to help couples nurture lifelong relationships.
For another angle on love as attachment:
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A.
Ever wonder why some people seem to have a harder time than others when it comes to navigating relationships? These authors — one a psychiatrist, the other a neuroscientist — suggest it might have to do with a person’s attachment style: anxious, avoidant, or secure. This book is designed to help readers figure out which attachment style they follow and which one their mate — or potential mate — follows. Then, readers can explore methods and guidelines to help them build strong relationships that will fulfill both partners.
Speaking of identifying your personality tendencies, when it comes to books about love, it would be hard to leave out this perennial New York Times bestseller:
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
“What’s your love language?” You’ve probably been asked that question more than a few times in recent years — and this is the book about love that started it all. The concept behind love languages is that understanding how you and your partner express and receive love through words and actions will help you build a rewarding relationship by better interpreting each other’s romantic intentions. The latest edition has been updated with insights and advice that address the complexities of modern relationships.
Books About Love For the Dating Scene
Dating. Just the word evokes so many emotions, from excitement and anticipation to heartbreak and exhaustion. No matter how you feel about it, these books might offer just the insights and advice you need at the moment.
First, a practical guide to modern dating:
It’s Complicated (But It Doesn’t Have to Be): A Modern Guide to Finding and Keeping Love by Paul Carrick Brunson
This is an author whose mission is to help readers navigate online dating, offline interactions, and of course the phrase “it’s complicated.” Brunson doesn’t shy away from answering questions every dating person ponders, from the best way to ask someone out to dating more than one person without hurting anybody’s feelings to whether marriage is right for everyone. Full of conversational insights, probing questions, and real-life examples, this book about love is designed to leave readers feeling prepared and, more importantly, optimistic about the journey ahead.
For those times when you need a little emotional empowerment during your search for love:
How to Be Single and Happy: Science-Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate by Jennifer Taitz, Psy. D., A.B.P.P.
Single readers who are exhausted from ghosting, overanalyzing texts, keeping up with dating apps, and dodging the dreaded question “Why are you still single?” will welcome this title from psychologist Jennifer Taitz. The author draws on her professional experience, recent scientific research, and patient interviews to not only explain to readers why being single doesn’t make them inferior, but also give them dating advice and help them develop happy, healthy mindsets — single or not.
Of course, we can’t talk about love without addressing the universal experience of heartbreak:
How to Fix a Broken Heart by Guy Winch
Psychologist Guy Winch asks readers to pay the same respect to a broken heart as they would to a broken arm. Winch turns to research and scientific studies to explain how and why brokenheartedness impacts brains and behavior. Romantic heartbreak, he suggests, is just as painful as the loss of a close family member, but isn’t deemed as significant, so doesn’t get as much attention. Winch invites readers to give themselves permission to treat it seriously and also offers methods to cope with, heal, and eventually move on from a broken heart.
Books About Love For Married Life
Just like dating, marriage comes with its own unique gifts and challenges. These books about love address the specific ups and downs that couples may face during marriage.
We’ll start with a book that approaches the realities of marriage with unflinching honesty:
Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun
Through a collection of personal essays, Ada Calhoun candidly explores the realities of her own marriage. Calhoun confirms that marriage is not a cliche about living in eternal harmony, nor is it an outdated idea doomed to end in divorce. Her essays open up discussions of infidelity, anxiety, boredom, and all the other challenges of staying with another person for a lifetime. And yet, at the end of the day, Calhoun describes marriage as something filled not only with love, but also hope and warmth: “What a burden,” she writes, “and what a gift.”
For readers whose realities might involve the end of a marriage, this next author gives the scoop on the divorce process, but also holds out hope that her book about love might help save a marriage or two:
woulda. coulda. shoulda.: A divorce coach’s guide to staying married by Jennifer Hurvitz
Hurvitz wrote this book specifically for couples who are contemplating separation or divorce. The author, who is both divorced and also a divorce coach, tells readers she finally figured out how to work toward a lasting marriage — but only after hers was over. Hurvitz gives a frank perspective of what it’s like to go through the divorce process and what the other side really looks like, while offering important considerations to take into account before making a decision that can’t be undone.
What better way to end than with a book about love that celebrates the best parts of marriage with stories from all over the world:
From Mauritus to Manila to Zagreb and more cities around the world, these are the stories of women who are deeply in love and committed to building strong marriages. Fawn Weaver, a happy wife, was determined to spread a more positive message about marriage amidst the increasingly negative portrayals she’d been seeing in the media. In order to learn the secret of a happy marriage, Weaver traveled across the globe to meet with women who shared her optimistic view. Through their stories, she invites readers to be inspired by the proof that happy, healthy marriages exist and can be experienced by everyone.
Valentine’s Day will be gone before you know it — and so will the chocolate, cards, and flowers. But all the stories, insights, and challenges that you’ll find in these books about love will stay with you like a lifelong partner. What book will you fall in love with this year?
And a little Valentine’s Day gift from us: more books about love in all genres. Enjoy!