Books for the hopeful and the heartbroken

When I popped back on the dating scene after a series of ill-fated relationships, I was the ripe ol’ age of 24 — and felt every bit of that.

It’s ridiculous now, of course, to feel like an old maid when I was, um . . . in my mid-twenties. But when your friends are pairing off and that pressure of behind-ness weighs so heavily on your chest, I couldn’t help but feel disheveled and slightly broken.

Definitely in need of change.

Up until I joined a dating site in early 2010, I can’t say I’d ever really dated. My boyfriends had been coworkers or classmates, friends of friends or men introduced by family. I definitely never did the stereotypical hanging-at-a-bar thing, which should be a surprise to exactly no one.

So when I did decide to put myself out there, as it were, the question was where to put myself. Like any good spinster, I worried the world had passed me by — and had no idea where people actually went to meet others. Like any good denizen of the Internet, though, I quickly figured it out. The rest is history.

Many good bookworms rely on books for guidance through countless experiences — and I was no different. When faced with a new challenge, it wouldn’t be unusual to find me haunting the self-help section of Borders with a stack of tomes at my feet. From taking college courses to grieving a deceased pet, books have been my sources of inspiration, knowledge and comfort.

So I started reading. And whether you’re hopeful or heartbroken, there’s a book for you.

How to Survive the Loss of a LoveHow To Survive the Loss of a Love
by Peter McWilliams, Melba Colgrove
and Harold H. Bloomfield

When my first serious relationship ended, I was despondent in the way you can only be once: after that loss of your first love. My mom, ever the wise comforter, found this slim volume of poetry and practical advice I read cover to cover for months. Easily digestible in bits and bobs, How to Survive is accessible for all — whether a relationship has ended in distance, infidelity or death. In later years, I realized it’s also useful for getting through the loss of goals and dreams, too.

Geeks Guide to DatingThe Geek’s Guide to Dating
by Eric Smith

Though this cute, fun book didn’t exist when I was on the dating scene, Smith’s kind and funny guide to dating for the socially awkward is especially appropriate for gamers and sweetly bumbling guys . . . but has practical advice for anyone entering the dating scene. Its illustrations will be especially fun for those who were fed a steady diet of Nintendo games growing up.

The Rules for Online DatingThe Rules for Online Dating
by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider

First published in 2002, this version of the popular Rules books can be . . . well, a little eye-rolling at points. I’ll admit the feminist in me didn’t love the idea of playing coy or waiting for men to come to me online, but I did decide to follow many of the Rules successfully — and with success. Less a literal guide to communication and more guidelines for the smart woman looking for love online, most of its tips are probably still appropriate for 2014.

Dear Jane AustenDear Jane Austen:
A Heroine’s Guide to Life and Love

by Patrice Hannon

This slim volume channeling witty Austen isn’t going to break the bank on insight, but it is a diverting way to spend an afternoon. Filled with “letters” imploring Austen for her take on modern-day but universal problems with love, manners, appearances and more, it’s especially fun for Austen fans who will recognize the predicaments of her heroines in her responses. Like sitting down for crumpets with our favorite authoress, Dear Jane Austen is a good reminder that though we all may suffer some, we come through — no matter our era.

literary love

I’m participating in Literary Love this week — a celebration of all things lovely and bookish! Feel free to play along by checking out other links at Estella’s Revenge, Doing Dewey, Love At First Book and From Isi, and check out posts under #LiteraryLove14.