Fresh out of a relationship? It may be time for some bibliotherapy. Books have helped us through the milestones of growing up and finding ourselves, but we’ve discovered that they’re also excellent antidotes to heartbreak. Whether you’re looking for tales of moving on or getting even—or you simply need a big, restorative laugh—the novels below are all excellent books to read after a breakup. They pair unbelievably well with ice cream, too.
After she’s dumped for another woman, Sophie becomes desperate, depressed, and suddenly inventive: What if she opened a rehab center for other women recovering from romantic disasters? Just like that—Sophie’s sense of purpose is reborn. Funny, sweet, and with a premise reminiscent of The First Wives Club, this debut novel is perfect for when you need a bit of post-breakup rehabilitation. In the amusing words of New York Times-bestselling author Paula Froelich: “If you’ve ever had your heart broken and then cut your own bangs, read this book.”
Related: 19 Movies to Watch After a Breakup
A much-acclaimed novel, Love, Etc., is “a quirky winner” that explores life after romantic loss (Kirkus Reviews). The book shifts between the narratives of the real-life Jessica, a divorced writer, and the fictional heroine she’s created (whose experience largely to mirrors her own). Together, they form a fascinating story about heartbreak, love, and how even the most painful wounds can heal with time.
Moonlight and Mistletoe
Heartbreak hits over the holidays as Buck, a Georgia cop, struggles to forget his ex. But when a young woman shows up on his doorstep with her sister and a secret, it seems he might finally get into the spirit of the season…If you’re craving a sweet, feel-good romance to nurse your own romantic blues, Moonlight and Mistletoe is the mood booster you’re looking for—complete with a wonderful central couple and even a few adorable pets.
Getting Rid of Bradley
From the master of the rom-com comes a novel that’ll keep you laughing as its main heroine, Lucy, tries to cope with leaving her cheating husband. Lucy’s life becomes even more chaotic when her soon-to-be ex is a no-show at divorce court, and she’s suddenly the target of an attempted murder. Luckily, police officer Zack is more than willing to protect her—even if it means working overtime, late into the night...Jennifer Crusie has a fantastic ability to write romances that are as sexy as they are funny, and this RITA Award winner is a fan favorite.
His Perfect Partner
His Perfect Partner is the first installment of the Matched to Perfection series centered on three Latina sisters. Here, Oliveras pairs divorced single dad Tomas with Yazmine, his daughter’s dance teacher. Though they’re hesitant to open up their hearts, they can’t deny that their chemistry has them wanting a closed and private room for two. Can they overcome their fears, surrender to their feelings, and tango into love?
Bridget Jones's Diary
Hey, it’s contemporary classic for a reason! Helen Fielding’s genre-defining rom-com not only inspired sequels and a trilogy of films—it’s also a fabulous story of a quirky, flawed heroine who finally gets her happy ending. Of course, the road to her HEA is filled with hilarious misadventures, including but not limited to a crash-and-burn affair with her boss. You’ll laugh and cheer for Bridget as she dusts off her knickers and takes on the world—from her weight insecurities and nicotine addiction to smug marrieds and the uptight lawyer Mark Darcy (played by Colin Firth in the films, because there is a God).
And One Last Thing...
After Lacey discovers her husband’s a cheater—and announces it to the world via a mass email—she escapes to her family cabin. Unfortunately, it seems like her new next-door neighbor, Monroe, isn't so keen on having her chatty self so close by. Or is he? This Molly Harper rebound romance is fun, charming, and “a novel that should be on the summer reading list of every woman who has been wronged” (Booklist).
Grumpy Fake Boyfriend
Will is a science fiction writer who likes to keep to himself. But when he grants a favor to his friend, he finds himself playing boyfriend to his friend’s little sister, Naomi. As the pair plays out their charade over a weekend getaway with Naomi’s ex, they start to realize they’d like to turn their fake courtship into a real one…
The Breakup Doctor
The start of a fun series of the same name, The Breakup Doctor introduces us to Brook Ogden, a “matchmaker-in-reverse” who counsels the broken-hearted and writes an advice column. But after she becomes a dumpee, she breaks all her own rules—including the one that prohibits rebounding with bad boy bartenders. Liz Tuccillo, a story editor for HBO’s Sex and the City, called this read “a heartwarming and funny story about friendship, romance, and the heart-wrenching reality of breakups.”
When Katie Met Cassidy
Katie has just ended her engagement to a man when she meets Cassidy, a woman who’s her opposite in so many ways. Despite their differences, the two are drawn to one another, and their attraction makes Katie wonder if she’s denied an important part of herself all along…Sexy and as fluffy as cotton candy, we can’t wait for the inevitable movie adaptation.
Divorced, Desperate, and Delicious
Burned by her ex, Lacy Maguire would rather stay home with her animals than consider dating. But when detective Chase Kelly needs to hide out in her home, she may just change her tune...A hint of danger, a hot cop, and plenty of humor makes this book the ideal curl-up read for when you’re a little down in the dumps.
Good in Bed
Good in Bed is one of Jennifer Weiner’s most popular books—and it’s easy to see why. It stars relatable reporter Cannie Shapiro, whose life takes an unexpected turn when she reads her ex-boyfriend’s column about dating a plus-sized woman. Embarrassed and ashamed, Cannie embarks on a year of transformation as she tries to figure out who she is—beyond the number on the scale. If you’re getting over dating a jerk and deal with your own body image issues, this is the one for you.
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Featured still from "Bridget Jones's Diary" via Miramax Films