Wondering whether or not your ex was a douche? He probably was.
Why do we love books about break-ups? Because they’re a sure-fire way to make us feel better about our own of course. That’s why we asked bestselling author Lindsey Kelk to tell us about her best fictional books about breakups. Lindsay’s recent book, We Were on a Break, is about a miscommunication that leads to a hilarious break-up and many small town shenanigans. She’s given us a great list of classics and modern classics:
Photo of Lindsey Kelk (left) by Jeff Israel
I Don’t Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner
Wondering whether or not your ex was a douche? He probably was. Super smart and ridiculously funny comedian, Julie Klausner, pulls no punches as she talks you through tales of her dating history. My favourite part of the book is when Julie explains how so many of us suffer from Miss Piggy problems – basically, we’re all too fabulous for those frogs.
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
No-one nailed modern romance like Bridget. From the first hook up to the final fling, Bridget goes through it all with Daniel Cleaver and we feel every single sting. Fingers crossed there’s a Mark Darcy waiting in the wings to love us all, just as we are.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
I feel terrible including two interpretations of Pride and Prejudice in this list without original book but given that we’re in the twenty-first century, I’m going to pick Curtis Sittenfeld’s recent contribution to The Austen Project rather than the original story of Elizabeth and Darcy. Every relationship in Eligible feels real and understandable, the break ups raw and complicated whether they’re down to classic Austen miscommunication or out and out devilish behaviour. If you’re a fan of Austen, The Bachelor, contemporary romance, reading or simply if you have eyes, this is the book for you.
Forever by Judy Blume
First love blossoms into something beautiful in this honest portrayal of teenagers exploring their feelings and their sexuality for the first time. While it’s mostly famous for being passed around the girls’ changing rooms, I still remember the sweet love story to this day that accompanied the awkward sex scenes (who calls their penis Ralph? Actually don’t answer that). Like most young romances, it comes to an end and the breakup is as real as they come.
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby might be considered to be about a lot of things but above all else, the modern reader could call it an ode to The Bad Break Up. After ghosting on his girlfriend. Jay Gatsby attempts to win her back by buying a kick ass mansion and owning a lot of shirts which leads to another bad break up when she tries to leave her husband who in turn in kind of responsible for the worst ever break up when his mistress dies in a hit and run. And let’s not pretend Nick gets out of this clean, his treatment of both ‘the girl back home and Jordan Baker is either blithely dismissive or genuinely terrible, depending on how you cut it but Jordan, who does little more than pass around messages and do things for other people, gets one of the best moments of the book when she calls Nick out with a quote that has seen me through some truly terrible break ups:
‘You said a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad drive? Well, I met another bad driver, didn’t I?’
It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane
Mhairi is one of the funniest, sharpest writers I know and this book starts with the perfect set up for a complete disaster. Delia proposes to her boyfriend Paul and he accepts, only to then accidentally send a text to The Other Woman. Not exactly the romantic affirmation Delia had in mind. Mhairi is fantastic at presenting heartbreaking situations and making you laugh until you throw up at the same time. That’s a good thing, honest.
The Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro
Not so much a ‘break up’ story as a ‘never was’ but this book does more to describe the subtle then desperate anguish of a broken heart than any number of books about relationships that actually happened. If you can read all the way to the end without a tear in your eye, you’re either a monster or incredibly dehydrated and should see your doctor. One of my all time favourite books.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
As a Yorkshire lass myself, I’ve always been a huge Bronte fan and often found myself turning to Jane Eyre in the midst of relationship troubles. As much as she cares for her man, Jane never loses her sense of self in her love for Rochester, agreeing to the relationship when he admits his feelings and accepts her as his equal, turning away when she was ill-treated and lied to and returning only when she could do so on her own terms, having walked away from another potential match that just couldn’t live up to the love of her life. ‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a human being with an independent will’ says Jane. Tell me you’re not dying to print that onto a tote bag?
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
While this book is technically YA, it should appeal to anyone who has ever been on the rough end of a relationship. IE ALL OF US. Presented as a letter from Min to her high school boyfriend, Ed, along with a box full of memories from their relationship, the book tells a sweet and sad tale that might make you examine your behavior in your own relationships. As well as being fantastically written by Mr Lemony Snickeet himself, Daniel Handler, it’s also gorgeously illustrated by Maira Kalman.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
You thought your break up was bad? IT WAS NOT. Wild lovers with souls made of the same ‘stuff’, the ill-fated Heathcliff and Cathy are the opposite of #RelationshipGoals. I mean, that is unless you’re looking for a man who will run away, marry your second choice husband’s young sister out of spite, dig up your dead body and then slowly starves himself to