Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
Read this book first, because this will put things in perspective for you. You may be facing a mountain of trauma, but at least you can race to the top and see that it’s only downhill from here. But Lucy Grealy never had her “just over the horizon” moment. Lucy was diagnosed with a rare cancer at nine years old and had a series of surgeries which ultimately removed nearly half her jaw. This book is a haunting memoir on image and beauty seen through the eyes of a young girl growing into a young woman. Lucy wrote this book when she was thirty-two and sadly died at age thirty-nine.
Despite the heaviness of the subject the writing is really soft and somewhat beautiful to read. Lucy’s story will suck you up and out of this world until you’re finally finished her haunting tale, leaving you with a new outlook on life and appreciation for self-love.
2. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
As we’re grieving a lost love, we often feel guilty as we start to find happiness again. We’re so used to swirling and twirling in the dark that any pocket of light that seeps in seems strange. That’s because you’re no longer sharing your happiness with your partner, you’re experiencing it on your own. It’s different, it’s eery, but it’s exciting. Nonetheless, our psyches register it as being foreign and so we’re apprehensive. We’re scared to feel happiness alone. We’re not sure if we even can. So how do you choose happiness when you’re not even sure if it’s a choice?
You read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. Not only is Jenny stomach-wrenchingly funny, but she also struggles with mental health issues. Despite her ongoing battle, she still chooses happiness. She may not choose happiness every second of the day, because no one can, but she does share how this happiness is accessible to everyone, even during our lowest points.
3. Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed
So, you were dumped. You’re starting to find happiness again. Now what? You dive deep into your new life and swim hard against the current. It may be strong, but you’re stronger. And Cheryl Strayed’s book Brave Enough acts as the life vest to help keep you afloat.
A beautiful, simple, yet profound book filled with snappy-quotes-only from the bestselling author of Wild. These quotes aren’t just words on paper, they’re little bits of Cheryl’s heart that take you on her journey toward finding herself while simultaneously provoking introspection and reflection on your heart’s holes, long-lost beaus, and future goals.
Three examples of quotes you’ll find in this book: “If it is impossible to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have,” “Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was,” and “Love can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued by sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor, and loaded by promises and commitments that we may or may not want to keep. The best thing you can possibly do with your life is tackle the [motherbleeping bleep] out of it.”
4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
So you were heartbroken, then you slowly dipped your toes back in the water, and now you’re full-fledged sailing again, unsure if you’ll sink or swim. Maybe you want to sign up to learn skating, maybe you’re contemplating online dating, but you’re not sure where to start. You need inspiration. You can envision the finish line but you can’t seem to find the starting point. It’s cool because I’ve got it. It’s called The Alchemist and it’s available at your local bookstore.
This book tends to find its way into the hands of readers who need it most. The Alchemist details an incredible journey of transformation and self-discovery. The protagonist, Santiago, is a young shepherd who dreams big, far beyond the limits of his hometown, and chooses to trust his intuition and chase his dreams.
Although you’re joining Santiago on his adventure toward finding himself, you’ll likely find yourself along the way. As Santiago learns to trust the path unseen, put faith into the universe, and most importantly, believe in himself, so will you.
5. The Art of Living by Epictetus
You’re past the initial stages of heartache and are happily single … for the most part. You’re trying to look onward and upward, but it’s sometimes difficult not to look back in the past with regret, which feels like a step back. You’re struggling to stay present. You need something that grounds you, that brings you back to where you are, when you are, who you are.
In my opinion, The Art of Living belongs in hotel bedside tables. Move over, Bible, Epictetus’ thousands-of-years old guidebook is coming through. It provides comfort when we feel far from home, or far away from ourselves. This book can guide us back and help us become the human beings we want to be.
Epictetus provides insight into what it means to be human -- the good, and the bad. Part of the appeal is that, despite being written so long ago, the translation feels like an email you got this morning from a wise friend. Sample entry to share a taste: “It is better to do wrong seldom and to own it, and to act right for the most part, than seldom to admit that you have done wrong and to do wrong often.”
6. How to Love by Thich Nhat HaNH
So you’re feeling pretty good, your feelings are understood, and you’re happier in all likelihood. The past was put to rest, you’re doing your best, and you’re finally feeling happiness … but what about love?
Everyone deals with breakups differently. But after the heartache and the pain comes the choice to love again. And if you choose to live your life from the heart, you’ll need a new place to start. Because the love you feel after a breakup can seem different. Whether it’s self love, family love, or new love, you sometimes need to reflect on how to love again.
The prolific Zen monk’s simple little paragraphs about how mindful and compassionate love can open up our hearts and minds to a new way of loving. You’ll learn that as we express love to others, we become more connected to the world and ourselves. And isn’t that what life’s about? Because we all want the same thing in life: to love and to be loved.
7. Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield
It’s been a long journey. You’ve had immense lows and mountainous highs, but eventually you cajoled yourself into finding a new way of living, which means it’s time for some forgiving. Like I said, sometimes you can’t move forward until you’re comfortable looking back.
Looking back can propel us forwards, and moving on only takes four words: Do it for you. Look back at the good times for you. Learn to appreciate how each and every moment of your relationship shaped you, changed you, hurt you, and rearranged you. Look back at the bad times for you. They made you tougher and wiser, and into a better soldier and sympathizer.
Sometimes it’s easier to reflect together, and Love Is A Mix Tape is one man’s recount of his deepest, most heartfelt relationship. This funny, sad, beautiful memoir is about a guy who gets married young and becomes a widow soon after. (Not a spoiler as it’s revealed on the first page!). The story of indie music, mix tapes, and rock concerts is weaved through the book and it’ll appeal to anyone who’s ever been in a relationship where music was a part of the story.