8 Books That Can Make Your Relationship Stronger

by Dina Gachman

Dating is hard, and finally falling in love can be blissful — but what happens when the honeymoon phase ends and your relationship gets real? Do you bail out and start scrolling through Tinder, just in case? Maybe... if you’re in a terrible relationship and need to GTFO. Otherwise, you put in the time and effort and work it takes to make a relationship last.

Obviously not all relationships are destined to last forever: Justin and Britney, Kanye and Amber Rose, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. Sometimes it is best to cut the chord and get back out there. Breakups suck, and that’s why books like It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken exist — they're there to help you get back on your feet and understand that there’s someone better out there. On the other hand, sometimes you’re in a great relationship that hits a rough patch and you just need to do a little emotional maintenance. It happens.

When people say relationships are “work,” that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s bad if you’re constantly arguing and can’t stand each other, but even the most rapturous lovers have their moments. There are tons of self-help books available to help guide you through the tough times, but if that’s not your thing, you can get a little relationship boost from novels about lost love, humor essays about dating Ed Hardy-clad players, and memoirs about loss - which'll make you appreciate what you have.

If your relationship needs a little restart, here are some books that might help.

Happy Are the Happy by Yasmina Reza

Happy Are the Happy is a series of interweaving stories about lovers, friends, husbands, wives, children, and parents. It’s darkly funny and sometimes melancholy (a Frenchwoman wrote it, after all), and it’ll make you appreciate your relationship because life is short, love is strange, and no one is perfect — not even you! Read this if you like your relationship insights tinged with a little French ennui.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Eugenides (Virgin Suicides, Middlesex) creates off-center characters that also happen to be deeply human and relatable. No two books are alike, but they’re all distinctly his. The Marriage Plot is about a love triangle between English major Madeleine Hanna (who is writing her thesis about Jane Austen and George Eliot), and two very different dudes: Leonard Bankhead and Mitchell Grammaticus (you have to love those names). It’s not a book about marriage, exactly — it’s about growing up, falling in and out of love, and figuring it all out.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Fey’s memoir isn’t a Wuthering Heights-type love story, but if you’re in need of a little kick in the ass because you’ve been feeling insecure or unsure in your relationship, Bossypants can help. It’s all about being your best badass self, speaking up, and taking charge of your life. Maya Angelou once said, “Nothing will work unless you do,” and that definitely applies to relationships. That’s kind of the gist of Bossypants, which is why reading it might just be good for your relationship — and for you.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Yes, this is a memoir about grief, but it also makes you appreciate the ones you love and what you have. Didion’s marriage to John Gregory Dunne also seems like something to aspire to — it was the real deal.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Rowell’s story of a marriage that’s unraveling (and a woman who can’t figure out what she wants) is a sometimes funny, sometimes sad portrait of the tough times that so many people in long-term relationships go through. It’ll tug at your heart and make you want to call the one you’re with — on a cell phone, not a landline.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Grab some tissues, because this one might break your heart — in a good way. It’s an unlikely love story about the ways someone can change you — and you them. It’ll make you weepy and it might inspire you to tell your boyfriend/girlfriend how much he or she means to you. Hopefully your partner will do the same.

I Don’t Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner

This one won’t make you cry, but if you need a break from feeling so deeply, this is a good change of pace. Klausner’s hilarious essays about falling for the wrong dudes and waking up with jerks are relatable (unless you only fall for perfect people - yeah right!), and she also reminds you that you’re better than all that — which is a great message whether you’re in a relationship or “just hanging out” with a lame-o drummer. If you’re in a relationship, it’ll remind you that you’re lucky you’re not out there weeding through the Peter Pans of the world.

Geography of the Heart by Fenton Johnson

Johnson watched his lover, Larry Rose, die of AIDS in 1990. They’d only been together a few years, but sometimes that’s all it takes to feel like you’ve spent a lifetime with someone. The book is about the transformative power of love (grab the tissues again), and it’ll remind you to be kind, patient, and appreciative of what (and who) you have.