A wholesome selection of writers and editors give us their top reading recommendations for self-love, growth, and singledom
The Chocolate Lovers’ Club by Carole Matthews
There is not a problem in the world that cannot be solved by several bars of Galaxy Cookie Crumble and that is exactly what this book is about. Following the lives of Lucy, Nadia, Autumn, and Chantal, we see the power that a good piece of chocolate holds in repairing the heart and adding more to life. Each of these women could not be less alike. Chantal is rich in a high-power job in a loveless marriage, Nadia is a mother with a gambling husband, Autumn is a kind soul who devotes herself to volunteering and is happy alone, and Lucy is a temp with a heartbreaker boyfriend and an inability to find the right guy. Yet, through their collective love of chocolate, they form bonds that help them navigate towards real love. Every person can in some way relate to at least one of these characters and that is the beauty of this book. It gives hope to all, whether or not they are in love, searching, or happily in love with themselves.
Am I There Yet? by Mari Andrew
Are you uncertain about what you want to do with your life? Feel rushed into adulthood, and unsure when exactly you’re supposed to find your dream job, partner, and group of friends and manage to do your laundry? This book is for you. In a series of illustrations, Mari Andrews shows us how the route to discovering yourself is winding, and you should be patient and gentle with yourself along the way. This book made me feel relieved, comforted, and hopeful for the future – a tough thing to achieve with all the stresses of life currently. This is a book I will return to time and time again for reassurance that it is okay that I don’t have everything figured out quite yet. A must read for early adulthood.
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
This story takes place during one night, a couple’s wedding night and it shows how seemingly small decisions completely impact the lives of the characters. It is both entirely heart-breaking and beautiful in the depiction of limitations of love, and the sacrifices people make for it. The characters are so full and detailed that I felt as though they were real people, like this was a tragic personal history that I could hear more about if I took to Wikipedia. It is a novella, which I appreciate with my heavy English Literature reading list, but I still could not put it down. I ended up reading it in one weekend between working in the Robbo - which in hindsight was not the ideal setting because of my tears upon finishing it. This is one for a good wallow and a good cry, and also to rethink your life.
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
The Outrun is an autobiography by Amy Liptrot, documenting her experience with addiction and mental illness, and how she battled to overcome these issues by wild swimming in the North Sea and counting Corncrakes of the islands of Orkney. On the surface, The Outrun does not seem much like a book for lonely hearts. But I can unequivocally promise you that it is. The Outrun is a book about healing. More than that, it is a book about healing alone. In her autobiography, Liptrot documents how she recovered from addiction and depression by connection with nature. A large part of this comes from her ability to understand herself as an individual, as well as looking at her place in the mass global network of nature. This book does not dwell on loneliness, just as everyone who isn’t in a relationship should not feel alone. It teaches you how you can feel connected and valued, without that having to come from the romantic affection of someone else. And if you’re reading this on the back-end of a nasty break-up, I promise you that above all this story is healing. It’s beautifully written, and leaves you with an intense hankering to chase independence, embrace nature and above all else love yourself, by yourself.
Carys Rose Thomas
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Sometimes being single is empowering. Other times, we want to wallow in all the times we’ve had our hearts broken. If you’re feeling like the latter this February, Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler is the perfect read. When Min and Ed end their short-lived relationship, she leaves a box full of stuff on his porch with a letter explaining how each item symbolises a reason why they broke up. What makes this such a compelling read is the unapologetic emotion that Min feels; she is devastated by the loss of her first love, and she’s going to let him know exactly why.
One thing that makes this novel stand out is how beautifully it is illustrated. Each chapter includes a painting of one of Min’s items, be it a cinema ticket, a box of matches or a pair of ugly earrings. Every illustration gives the story more of a sentimental value, and when accompanied by Handler’s descriptive prose the novel made me feel like I was the one grieving a breakup.
If you’re looking to experience the drama and emotion of a relationship from the comfort of your single-bed, this book is definitely for you.