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20 Books That Will Get You Through Your Divorce

In 2007, my marriage started falling apart. In 2008, my dad died. In 2009, I got divorced. And that was the year I finally finished a book from cover to cover. Lots of them, actually. After a lifetime of only half-finishing every book I’d ever picked up (with very few exceptions), I found so much solace in the stories of other people’s lives during the worst time in mine. I read a ton of memoir, a little bit of fiction, and some self-help. I read humor books, essay collections. I read every single day, mostly wrapped up in layers of blankets, trying to heal. Getting over a divorce is an arduous process, and reading was an essential component of my recovery.

I recently discovered that Magda Pecsenye of Ask Moxie said reading was an important part of her divorce recovery, too, so I asked Pecsenye to reach out to her readers and find out which books helped them survive the divorce process. Here’s a list of 20 titles that helped me, Pecsenye and her friends and fans get through the big split. They’ll help you, too, should you need it:

  • It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt 1 of 20
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    Recommended by an AskMoxie reader, this book is a fun and funny guide to getting through a breakup in the best way possible.

    Get it here

  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend 2 of 20
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    Recommended by an AskMoxie reader, this book takes a faith-based look at psychology and personal boundaries.

    Get it here

  • Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody 3 of 20
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    This one was recommended by an AskMoxie reader, and though I haven't read it, I highly recommend any and all books on the codependent/narcissist dynamic, since it touches so many relationships.

    Get it here

  • Uncoupling by Diane Vaughan 4 of 20
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    A sociological look at why relationships end and the stages of unraveling everyone goes through. Recommended by Pecsenye.

    Get it here

  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron 5 of 20
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    This is Pecsenye's #1 divorce book pick. She says, "My friend Deesha Philyaw and I teach 'Heartburn' in our Writing Through Your Divorce workshop and what hits us every time is the idea Ephron has that we each have a right to our own story. No one else is allowed to steal your story from you. Plus it's funny as hell and all the recipes in it are dead on. I get compliments on the key lime pie every time I make it."

    Get it here

  • The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson 6 of 20
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    Amy Dickinson's divorce memoir. She's from the area I'm from, she's a single mother with one daughter (like me), and she finds her happily ever after in the end, so of course I loved it. Great story for any small town girl with big dreams.

    Get it here

  • I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron 7 of 20
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    This book is geared toward women that are more my mother's age than mine, but women of any age will appreciate the levity and humor in this one. Ephron is generous with tales from her personal life that are so relatable.

    Get it here

  • When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron 8 of 20
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    Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun and teacher and the author of 16 books. This one was recommended by an AskMoxie reader.

    Get it here

  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers 9 of 20
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    The critically acclaimed, slightly fictionalized memoir about Eggers losing his parents and taking charge of his younger brother. It's by turns hilarious and sad - just like divorce. It should put your experience in some perspective, as well. It did for me. I remember really feeling attached to empathy and compassion while reading this.

    Get it here

  • There Is Nothing Wrong with You by Cheri Huber 10 of 20
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    Another AskMoxie reader recommendation. The reviews look good!

    Get it here

  • Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie 11 of 20
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    From the publisher: "When a down-on-her-luck divorcee meets a determined-to-dominate detective, they find out that falling in love can be murder..." Recommended by an AskMoxie reader. Crusie is known for her comedy, and this one is all about a divorcee starting her life over. Sounds like a fun pick-me-up.

    Get it here

  • Something More by Sarah Ban Breathnach 12 of 20
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    I had to laugh when I looked this book up, based on the recommendation of an AskMoxie reader, because as soon as I saw the cover, I realized I owned this when I was married and never read it. Ban Breathnach is a popular self-help author who also writes workbooks in the style of The Artist's Way meant to help you unlock your full potential and find happiness.

    Get it here

  • When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris 13 of 20
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    While I was going through my divorce, I read every single book David Sedaris had written up to that point. I laughed and laughed ... oh how I laughed! If you're from a dysfunctional family, you'll particularly enjoy the stories from Sedaris' childhood.

    Get it here

  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion 14 of 20
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    How Joan Didion dealt with the death of her husband and her daughter's repeated hospitalization in the same year. I particularly enjoyed the parts about the way our society does — and doesn't — deal with grief.

    Get it here

  • Why Is Sex Fun? by Jared Diamond 15 of 20
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    This was recommended by an AskMoxie reader, and I totally get why. When you're divorcing, unless you're acting out, having sex is not only usually the last thing on your mind, it's usually a temporary impossibility for a host of reasons. Reading about it instead sounds like a perfect/healthy substitute.

    Get it here

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston 16 of 20
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    I remember watching this miniseries starring Halle Berry when it aired in 2005, but I've never read the book. Pecsenye recommends it highly.

    Get it here

  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 17 of 20
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    Probably the world's most popular divorce memoir, Eat, Pray, Love is a life-changer. It's poetic and accessible, funny and poignant, and the travel stories and experiences are intoxicating. I like to brag about how I met Gilbert for a second at a book signing and how she complimented me on my post-divorce haircut. For a recovering divorcee, that was a banner day.

    Get it here

  • The Bible 18 of 20
    4947868946_2d58f6d7ae

    An AskMoxie reader says, "I'm not all that religious, but I found solace and strength - and even humor - there."

    Photo credit: Flickr user Savio Sebastian

  • Divorcing a Narcissist by Tina Swithin 19 of 20
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    Recommended by an AskMoxie reader, this book stemmed from the blog onemomsbattle.

    Get it here

  • Beyond Boundaries by Dr. John Townsend 20 of 20
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    Something to read after your divorce is finalized and you're ready to start thinking about maybe possibly someday having another long-term relationship. Recommended by an AskMoxie reader.

    Get it here

Magda Pecsenye is a blogger and parenting expert. She is also the author of the new workbook Christmased. If you’re trying to get through the holiday season in the midst of or after a divorce, you may want to download Christmased. It’s perfect for anyone (married, single, kids or no kids) who wants to get unstuck and break holiday traditions that don’t feel good.

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