I have an intense adoration for books. I also have a strong sense of emotion, and so I find myself in flings and things that end in heartbreak that leave me feeling blue. So, when I’m at my lowest about fizzled-out sparks, I turn to the dearest confidants on my shelves. Words of whimsical wisdom lead me through my thoughts and emotions, healing me from my eyes to my heart. These are my five favorite books that have made me feel the most understood, lifting away any form of hopelessness that lingers after a separation.
(No spoilers! I promise!)
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill
The Lonely Hearts Hotel follows orphans Rose and Pierrot as childhood acquaintances in their orphanage before being sorrowfully separated as teenagers. The two endure a multitude of hardships and circumstances yet always find their ways back to one another. After my first major high school breakup, reading this novel opened my heart to thoughts on fate, hope and partnerships. It had my teenage mind thinking over the notion of finding your person even amongst the darkest of obstacles that make it seem impossible to do so. O’Neill’s words still trace over my mind to this day, keeping me afloat with the thought that we all are deserving and capable of light amongst our darkest shadows.
LaRose by Louise Erdrich
This novel ironically found me through one of my English courses at UC Berkeley. My professor assigned the reading for themes on community and emotion, which was when I needed those two things the most. Dwindling on a slope of a partnership gone sour, I was in an isolated state of an emotionally draining breakup. Reading LaRose was an experience I desperately needed with how beautifully it intertwines love and community. Dragging through days with my heart fueled by hurt and insecurity, this novel broadened my perspective on a caring support system. Although not a book about romance, its demonstration of communal hardships and healing consoled my aching heart. Erdrich’s words urged me to seek that form of community for myself during this romantic hardship, and I discovered those capable of supporting and loving me the way I deserved.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The best way to flutter a hopeless romantic—like me—and tug on their heartstrings is by reading The Song of Achilles. With topics of soulmates and passions, this novel made me feel warm with the idea of everlasting love. While struggling in the discouraging end of what they call “a situationship,” Miller filled my spirit with hope that my soulmate is indeed out in the world—or perhaps even at arm’s length. I yearned for a love like Achilles’ and Patroclus’, one with connectivity that overcame barriers and always brought the two together. The “love conquers all” trope inspired my disappointed heart. Its pages reminded me of what I loved about love, keeping me from abandoning the emotion entirely.
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
I always find myself revisiting Call Me By Your Name’s pages when I need them the most. It captures the deepest parts of passion and adoration for other people and encapsulates the pain and hurt after a separation. I seek out this novel when I need reminding that the pain I’m feeling from heartbreak is genuine and valid, truly getting me through my lowest emotions after a separation. It holds the words that always keep my head above what feels like overbearing pools of raging water after a failed relationship. When I’m crying over a wounded heart and feeling ashamed for making myself vulnerable, I search for Aciman’s words that taught me not to reject my pain. It’s reassurance and validation of my pain, leading me through the healing of any aching separation.
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller
When my parents bought me Attached as a birthday present after I called them crying about my on-again-off-again entanglement, I rolled my eyes and tossed it into the deepest crevices of my desk drawer. I felt my parents subtly told me I had attachment issues, and I was quite offended. It wasn’t until I felt this partnership flailing in flames again that I dug into my drawer, feeling desperation spill over the brim of my romantic cup. I was at the point of wanting to know what I was doing wrong. Reading the first page of Attached instantly pulled me in. It described scenarios of alternating attachment styles, and I found myself eerily relating to them. This book taught me that I wasn’t unlovable; I just wasn’t pairing with people that comforted my attachment style. Attached guided me through the attachment styles and how to regulate my anxious one better. Attached has become my safe haven, pushing me to truly believe I can be happy with someone.
I’m sure I still have a few more frogs to kiss before finding true royalty. These works have comforted me within my deepest heartaches. They’ve uplifted me during my most wounded states, leading me through bursts of insecurity and pain to hope and positivity.