You know that relationship troubles come in all shapes and sizes. Rough patches. Breakups. Dry spells. "Breaks," which (spoiler alert) are usually just breakups that take way longer and involve a lot more denial. Even the smallest snag in your love life can cast a cloud over everything else. I prescribe some honest communication, supportive friends, and a stack of reading material. Here are a few books to get you through your relationship troubles.
Of course, not every book is going to work for every relationship problem. If you're feeling bummed about your long distance relationship, you're probably looking for a book that'll inspire you to keep going. If you're trying to figure out if it's time to commit to someone, you want a read that'll help you process a lot of complex emotions. If you've just been cheated on, you most likely want to lock yourself in your apartment with a copy of Gone Girl and a bottle of wine for the weekend (they say the best revenge is living well, but has anyone tried Gone Girl in real life yet?).
Whatever the issue, one of these books will make you feel a little bit better. Because, no matter what your trouble is, I promise you're not alone:
1'Tiny, Beautiful Things' by Cheryl Strayed
A lot of people seem to think that advice columns, as a whole, are just a little bit cheesy. But Tiny Beautiful Things manages to walk the fine line of funny, raw, and comforting, without becoming overly saccharine. Cheryl Strayed offers honest advice on love, grief, and everything in between, and she's just the person to turn to when you find yourself between a rock and a relationship-related hard place.
2'Americanah' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah is that rare love story that feels both beautiful and real. Ifemelu and Obinze start dating in high school, but fate and visa issues force them apart. Adichie follows both young people as they struggle to figure out life and love, and what to do with their entwined emotional history. A must read for anyone who's ever struggled to get over a first love, work out a long distance situation, or rekindle an old flame.
3'Blankets' by Craig Thompson
Speaking of first love... Blankets is simply stunning. The art is breathtaking. The story will probably make you cry, but in a nice way. Craig Thompson cuts to the heart of everything that is transcendent and heartbreaking about first love in this story about bible camp and snow. Read this book when you need a reminder that something can be beautiful, even if it doesn't last.
4'This Is How You Lose Her' by Junot Díaz
Junot Díaz is infuriatingly great at writing sexy, despicable men. This Is How You Lose Her explores several floundering relationships, with the reckless Yunior at the center of each of them. Yunior loves passionately... but he's not too great at impulse control. DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES AS YUNIOR, because "the half-life of love is forever."
5'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë
Look, I'm not saying that the main relationship in Jane Eyre is perfect. Sure, Jane isn't great at expressing her feelings and yes, Mr. Rochester should definitely not have kept his first wife locked in the attic. That one's on him. But for all of its less-than-healthy examples, Jane Eyre is still a novel about a couple successfully forgiving each other after a huge argument. And sometimes that's the story we need to read (but if your boyfriend has any women locked in the attic, please call the police).
6'The Ship Who Sang' by Anne McCaffrey
The Ship Who Sang is the most adorable sci-fi novel that you've never heard of. It follows Helva, who was born human, but who was soon after sealed in a tiny pod and turned into a virtual brain in a jar, meant to pilot a spaceship. Helva takes all this in stride, and sets out to explore the universe. Turns out, it can be challenging to date when you're a human brain encased in a giant spaceship, but Helva's still determined to find true love. So if you're not a brain encased in a giant spaceship, you have no excuse to give up on finding love yourself.
7'Persuasion' by Jane Austen
Re-read Pride and Prejudice on your own time. If you're going through a rough patch in your long term relationship, or looking back on some unfortunate romantic decisions, then it's time to pick up Persuasion. This is not a book about young, starry eyed love. It's about reconciling a failed relationship, dealing with regrets, and giving the dashing Captain Wentworth a second chance.
8'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' by Haruki Murakami
Sometimes you need to get out of your own head. Forget love and heartache and ill-defined hook ups. Go for a run (or, if you're a sane person and think that running is the worst, read this book about running instead). Murakami has written a memoir about running and writing, but it applies to anyone who needs an outlet. Take a deep breath, and find a physical activity that will give you a break from all of that agonizing.
9'The Namesake' by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri excels when it comes to flawed relationships. We follow our hero, Gogol Ganguli, from birth through divorce as he tries to figure out this whole relationship thing. Aside from the fact that everyone still uses diaphragms in this universe, it's a beautifully, cringingly relatable novel.