Books & Break-Ups

Sunday, January 19, 2014

“Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently. "So, Lizzy," said he one day, "your sister is crossed in love, I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed a little in love now and then. It is something to think of, and it gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough in Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

   So while the title of my cheesy, albeit quirky column seeks to bring sunshine at the beginning of the week (that and I couldn’t come up with anything else that started with the letter S), this post is going to get real. We are talking about break-ups. Yes, we’ve all been through them. Man or woman, we’ve all been hurt by love.

   While some of us have been fortunate to only be undone by love once or twice, there are many more who carry battle scars upon our backs and stories of heartbreak tucked into our sleeves. Each of us has a Brett or a Michael that we met “at the wrong time” when we were “finding ourselves” we so desperately wish to forget. Yet we also have one, the one that stays. The love that found its way into the core of our emotional DNA. These are the loves that write chapters in your heart and breathe sonnets into your lungs.

   These people, no matter how much we loathe their existence or the way they changed our lives, these are the ones that stick with us. These are the stories we tell to our children when we warn them to not follow in our footsteps, even though we know they will. They pluck us from our shelves and enter our stories through a foggy mist on an early morning moor. They linger for several chapters, creating footnotes that lead to indexes that take days to decode. And as soon as they arrive they leave, leaving your pages blowing softly in their absence. Perhaps you knew they were going to last a few chapters, yet it still pains you to see them leave. Or, worse, you planned out the rest of your novel around their existence only to be left writing your chapters alone. What is a person to do when left with the pieces of a broken heart and the remains of a relationship that ties your stomach into knots? Simple: read.

   Books not only provide a temporary escape from life’s problems, it also serves as a gentle reminder that you are not alone. Pain is a universal feeling, and while that thought may not bring comfort, this may: people survive pain every day. As a girl who recently got her heart damaged in the game of love, I have selected a list of books that help in any break-up. These are books that have brought comfort, insight, and temporary joy while I healed. They were my shoulder to cry on when I needed to unburden myself time and time again. 

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler 
While Handler is the king of misfortune is his children’s books A Series of Unfortunate Events, this book spins a tale of introspective heartbreak, because hindsight is always 20/20. The story follows a girl named Min as she returns a box of mementos that she collected throughout her relationship with her boyfriend Ed. Each object within the box contains a detailed story and a reason of why they broke up. Looking back, Min sees all the mistakes she made, and where everything went wrong. This story is applicable to almost anyone in this situation. For I’d like to think we all look back in relationships to see where we could have done better or, perhaps in my case, walked away sooner. 

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

This book is hands down one of my favorites and always will be. I stumbled upon this book during a rough break up, and it was the perfect medicine my writers heart needed. Levithan writes in a series of dictionary entries chronicling his relationship with an unnamed lover. While infidelity tears the two apart, he reminisces on the good times and bad in a lyrical prose that brings you to tears. Levithan has this way of writing about a genderless person, yet making his words so universal that it feels like the book is being written specifically for you, the reader. 

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Sometimes, we just need a reason to cry because all of our other reasons seem exhausted. When this happens, John Green is your go to boy for a good cry. Augustus and Hazel have been labeled this generation’s Romeo and Juliet, but even more so they are brilliant and profound teenagers making their story breathtaking and humorous. In-between dealing with parents, love, sex, friends, death, and cancer, Green incorporates a story of words, memories, and pain. You don’t get to avoid pain, but you do get to chose who hurts you. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 
Feeling awkward, hopeless, and that you will be that wallflower that never will see love again? Fangirl is your book. Cath is a fan fiction writer that enjoys the fictional world of Simon Snow more than her freshman year of college, because let’s face it, new experiences are an introvert’s worst nightmare. Cath is the girl that everyone can connect with on some level, and you find yourself cheering for her with every page turn. Will she find love without changing her ways? Is there a boy out there that thinks her quirks are actually charming? If Cath can find love, you can too. This book reminds readers that there is strength in all of us, even when facing scary environments like college (and co-ed dorms!). 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This post wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to the first women who taught me how to be strong in the midst of a heartbreak. The Bennett Sisters. No one can deny Elizabeth and Jane went through some tough times at Longbourne. Yet Lizzy was a fighter, and refused to let love define who she was or shape her future. She also singlehandedly saved her family’s reputation from despair (well, with Darcy’s help), and dodged a douchebag in the process. Lady hero? I think so. 

I hope this list provides some help in the future, or maybe right now as you cradle a carton of Ben and Jerry’s and listen to Joni Mitchell on repeat (totally been there). Hang in there broken hearted one, you will survive this and come out stronger. I promise. 

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