35 Best Books on Divorce: How to Think Smart and Protect Your Heart
Are you in that awful place of looking to teach yourself about divorce? Do you want to help your children with the gut-wrenching issue? Or have you a friend who is going through an especially grueling break up and you’d like to support her/him with several books on divorce, speaking to their specific circumstances? Your instincts are good. Divorce is hard to understand and get a handle on, mostly because it’s not just one thing happening, but an ongoing process of things to navigate, consider, decide about, and heal from. Depending on who you are and what stage of divorce you or your friend is going through, divorce can impact a person in many different ways. And while divorce coaching and support groups can be empowering and healing mechanisms, sometimes the privacy of reading books is a more comfortable start. Thank goodness we live in this modern age, where now more than ever, there exists extensive guides, workbooks and how-to books on divorce and especially, divorce recovery.
That said, how do you choose the right books on divorce? It’s not like the subject is pleasure reading, or as if you had all the time in the world.
That’s where we come in. Throughout the course of our divorce coaching practice, we’ve often been asked if we can recommend “the right book.” So below is our list of the best books on divorce.
Whether you’re an avid reader, a loving parent, a thoughtful friend, a gung-ho problem solver, or someone looking for help with a specific aspect to divorce (splitting from a narcissist, perhaps?), you’ll find our seasoned recommendations for the best books on divorce below. Among all of them, you’ll find an emphasis on navigating your divorce not only smartly, but healthily. And if you are looking to be distracted from your situation and inspired by heroines who suffered and survived, we’ve got you covered there, too. We want you to know the right books for inspiration and distraction; for it is our wish you will find something that points to hope in your story, too.
Beginning the Process of Divorce
1. Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. Should you try to save your marriage or is it un-saveable? From the inside, it can be really hard to tell. Kirshenbaum’s book helps you ask questions of yourself so you come to understand and navigate which sins are forgivable and which ones are deadly. This book, a new “classic” is highly recommended by SAS for Women for those who keep asking themselves what’s the criteria for staying or to go?
2. Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger. Are you having problems making sense of the chaos that is your marriage? Do you feel manipulated, controlled, lied to, or the focus of intense, violent, and/or irrational rages by your partner? Your partner may have borderline personality disorder and the decision to live with or leave that relationship can be even more complex than others’ experience. This book, highly recommended by SAS for Women, is important for those confused by their “reality.”
3. Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Ever After by Katherine Woodward Thomas. No matter what the reason behind your divorce, moving on can be difficult. In this step-by-step guide, Katherine aids her readers in finding peace through five steps. SAS for Women loves this book for it giving you permission to reframe divorce on your terms. You can break up in a more meaningful, thoughtful and compassionate way.
Using Your Head While You Divorce
4. Divorce Made Simple: The Ultimate Guide by a Former Family Judge by Linda Schoonover. Emotions run high during divorces; it’s a natural thing. Schoonover, a former judge, helps you keep your head grounded in the process with thoughtful, rational, and easy to follow guides that tackle questions on divorce: from how to prepare for a temporary hearing without an attorney to how to choose between mediation or collaborative divorce.
5. Divorce: Taking the High Road: Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce by Peggy Cooper with a contributing chapter from SAS Cofounder Kimberly Mishkin. Sometimes taking your emotions into consideration is exactly THE smart thing to do. In this book, taking care of your emotional well-being comes first, because divorce is an emotional and costly experience that can have repercussions not only on your fiscal future but your emotional future as well.
6. The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Divorce: A Therapist and a Lawyer Guide You through Your Divorce Journey by Dr. Jill Murray and Adam Dodge Esq. This compassionate divorce book is written by two experts from different fields—psychology and law. From helping your children cope and strategies for successful coparenting to tips and tricks to help you with obstacles in the courtroom, this book touches on every aspect of divorce and gives you a way to navigate through them.
7. The Financially Smart Divorce: Three Steps to Your Ideal Settlement and Financial Security in Your New Life! by J.A. Licciardello. Divorce is hard enough but splitting assets and negotiating a settlement can be especially difficult. You’re not just letting go of who you thought would be your life partner, but you’re now negotiating for your present and future finances once that split is over. This book can help you keep your finances in mind, even when you have a heavy heart.
8. BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns by Bill Eddy. Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with social media, emails, text messages, tweets, DMs, etc. We live in an age of technology where, when one soon-to-be-former partner is frustrated, there’s a plethora of social media and digital means of communication for them to harangue, harass and embarrass you. If you’re dealing with that, this book is for you!
9. Onward and Upward: Guide for Getting Through New York Divorce & Family Law Issues by Cari B. Rincker, Esq., SAS for Women, and additional divorce pro’s. This is a comprehensive divorce and family law book that is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the perspectives of attorneys and important professionals like SAS divorce coaches Liza Caldwell and Kimberly Mishkin as they discuss a myriad of family and matrimonial law topics, including how to divorce, what the legal process looks like, custody issues and how to avoid court.
10. Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield by Tina Swithin. Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with a person with narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists are, by virtue of their diagnosis, especially good at manipulation and projection. If you find yourself facing or engaged in the battleground of divorce with a narcissist, this book will help you stay prepared and steady.
Caring For Your Heart
11. Getting past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott. Focusing on the hurt and loss in your life can leave you drained and unready to move on. But Susan’s book gives you a step-by-step guide on what to do after your divorce to start you on your journey of healing: from putting up boundaries between you and your Ex to focusing on yourself rather than your loss.
12. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Dr. Brené Brown. Being vulnerable is seen as a weakness, but Dr. Brown uses this book to illustrate that vulnerability is anything but weakness. Vulnerability is one of our core emotions, like love, joy, fear, etc., and when we expose our vulnerability, we are actually showing courage and can find empowerment through it. This book is highly recommended by SAS for Women.
13. This Is Me Letting You Go by Heidi Priebe. When you love someone deeply, even when divorce is the right thing to do, it’s hard to let go. This collection of essays is a fantastic tool for living with your feelings and understanding that love sometimes isn’t enough, even when we want it to be.
14. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Sometimes the pain you are feeling really is only in your mind—you suffer because you think you are suffering. If you want to challenge logical pain and find joy, happiness, and love, look no further than within this book and within your heart. Through learning to embrace your day-to-day life and living within the present, the pain in your head will slowly fade away and will be replaced by a connection to our “indestructible essence” within. Highly recommended by SAS for Women.
15. Grieving the Loss of Love: How to Embrace Grief to Find True Hope and Healing after a Divorce, Breakup, or Death by Dr. Eleora Han. Grief is a very real emotion—one you’ll more likely be feeling after your divorce or the loss of a major relationship in your life. But grief doesn’t need to be a bad or negative emotion, and Dr. Han offers readers a path to recovery from grief that includes embracing the feeling of grief and loss and directing it in healthy, life-changing ways.
16. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön. When your world feels like it is crumbling around you, it’s hard to carry on and live through the pain, anxiety, and fear. In this book, Chödrön illustrates that the path forward isn’t through our heads, but through our hearts. Through Buddhist wisdom, Chödrön gives her readers the right tools to navigating troubling times within their lives.
17. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Author Hay believes that we are responsible for all the joy and all the pain we experience in our lives. When pain starts to outweigh your joy, this book has first-hand experiences to help you heal, internally, and to overcome the obstacles, externally, that take you away from your ability to live life to its fullest.
Helping Your Children
18. Talking to Children About Divorce by Jean McBride. McBride, a family therapist with over 25 years of practice, has helped many children going through their parent’s divorce. In this book, McBride offers the tools and encouragement needed to help your children deal with your divorce. This book will empower you to have emotionally honest and open conversations with your children and will help ensure your child’s emotional wellbeing. Highly recommended by SAS for Women.
19. Co-Parenting Works by Tammy G. Daughtry. Imagining your children’s life after divorce never brings up happy images—but, there is a way to navigate a seemingly impossible situation. Through your children, you and your Ex are forever linked and building a strong coparenting relationship not only benefits you but helps your children lead a healthy, happy life post-divorce.
20. Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way by M. Gary Neuman and Patricia Romanowski. Divorce can be especially rough on children, but this book is designed to help you help your children cope. This book includes tips from building a coparenting relationship that benefits your children and age-appropriate scripts for addressing sensitive issues, down to what to say and do when one parent moves away.
21. It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce by Vicki Lansky. If you have younger children, it can be especially difficult to communicate what a divorce is, why you are going through it, and, most importantly, how it is not their fault. This book, a classic, specifically designed for younger children, can help them come to terms in an age-appropriate way with what’s happening during a divorce.
22. Two Homes by Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton. In preparation for your divorce and future as a coparent, this book is fantastic at illustrating what living in two households is like for a young child. This book helps younger children understand that no house is a part-time house but two loving homes for them to be a part of.
23. Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children by Dr. Azmaira H. Maker and Polona Lovsin. This multi-award-winning book isn’t for you but for you to read to your younger children. This beautifully illustrated children’s book helps children grasp the changes that are about to come about in their life and that change isn’t something to be afraid of. This book is designed to help ease a child through a difficult time in their life.
24. Divorce Is Not the End of the World: Zoe’s and Evan’s Coping Guide for Kids by Zoe Stern and Evan Stern. This upbeat book is by two children of divorce, Zoe and Evan, whose parents divorced when they were 15 and 13 years old. Instead of turning that experience into something negative, the siblings worked together to create this book to help other children of divorce handle the situation in a positive way. With the help of their mother, the teens tackled topics from anger, guilt, fear, and adjusting to two different households.
25. The Awakening by Cate Chopin. Discontented, Edna Pontellier lives in New Orleans with her husband and two sons. While on vacation with her family, Edna falls in love with a mysterious man who is not her husband. When she returns home, she misses him deeply and when her husband goes away on a business trip, things will never be the same for Edna again.
26. How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over by Theo Pauline Nestor. This honest memoir is Theo’s story of kicking her husband out for his gambling problem and dealing with being alone with two young daughters. Formerly a stay-at-home mom, Theo not only has to figure out how to provide for her now husbandless family but also how to rebuild and move forward in her own life.
27. Evening by Susan Minot. Known as a daring exploration of time and memory, Minot’s novel will whisk you away into the life of Ann Grant. At 65, Ann is experiencing illness which brings her in and out of lucidity. Throughout the novel, Ann slips into memories of the past from her first time falling in love at the age of 25 and through her three marriages and five children.
28. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1920, this novel not only captivates with a love triangle, a rebellion, and a smothering dose of tradition but also transports you to 1920s high society through the characters of Newland Archer, Mary Welland, and Countess Ellen Olenska. Forced to choose between obligation brought about through tradition or love, Archer, engaged to Mary and in love with Ellen, must navigate a world of social pitfalls and taboo to see if he can have both love and marriage, or forever being denied passion.
29. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. This new classic is a classic for a reason—it’s just plain old good. Wrap your head and your heart around Elizabeth’s journey across Europe and Asia to find herself after divorce. This book will not only captivate you as Elizabeth tries to find herself and her happiness but will make you hungry. Be sure to order yourself a pizza, pour yourself a glass of wine, and wear your comfortable sweatpants while reading.
30. Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce by Stacy Morrison. Never believing in fairy tales nor happy endings, Morrison grew up with the idea that hard work and ambition would be her path to a happy life. But her world view was challenged when she realized that no amount of work could save her marriage. This book is Morrison’s lightly humorous journey through divorce and learning how to love again, how to forgive, and how to live through a divorce.
31. Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Life seemed perfect for Rachel Samstat. She loved her husband dearly and she was about to have a child with him, but, while she was seven months pregnant, Rachel discovers her husband Mark has been cheating on her. Therapy comes in all forms, and in this novel, Rachel turns to cooking and writing recipes to cope with Mark’s infidelity and her own feelings about their marriage and future child. Ephron conveys things we all feel, but reading her is more: it’s both hilarious and cathartic!
32. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Told in the age of industrialization of Russia and called “the best novel ever written” by Faulkner, this is the story of Anna and her two loves: her husband, Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin and her lover, Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky. Anna is torn between her love of two Alexeis, between obligation and freedom, between her role as mother and the dictates of society and her own need for fulfillment through love. This stunning classic will both capture and break your heart through its beautifully-told journey.
33. Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman. This story is that of Rita leaving all her worldly possessions at the age of 48, on the brink of divorce, and deciding to walk away from everything and become a nomad. Rita traveled the world from Mexico to the Galapagos to Borneo and everyplace in between as a way of not only seeing the world but discovering herself.
34. Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds. If you enjoy poetry and are also going through divorce, SAS for Women highly recommends this collection. Olds penned these complicated, nuanced and moving poems during the end of her own marriage and opens her heart to the reader. Through beautiful words, Olds reveals the strange intimacy that comes with the separation of a man that was 30 years her mate.
35. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. This autobiographical book takes you on the journey Cheryl went through to become the person she is today, starting with her mother and her divorce. Cheryl falls into a dark place and, to save herself and learn to move forward, decides to hike over a thousand miles on the Pacific Coast Trail alone. Sometimes what you need is a really good book to lose yourself in, one you can learn and grow with just as the protagonist learns and grows. Wild is that book.
While there’s no guarantee you (or your friend) will connect with each and every one of these books on divorce, we’re willing to bet at least a few will resonate. Maybe one of them will teach you how to do something step by step, while another will inspire you and remind you that in fact, you are not alone. Hearing what the experts know or learning from other people who have gone through a divorce, can lessen your learning curve, bolster your own confidence and give you insight, tips, tricks, and strategies to make this process a little bit easier and less emotionally devastating.
What books on divorce do you recommend? By all means we invite you to share it in the comment box below so other women can benefit. Do tell us what made the book meaningful for you. We love learning from other women and their hard-won experiences! By all means, too, if you did not find a particular book on this list of “best books on divorce” relevant, good, or it did not serve you, let us know that, too.
Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its confusing afterward. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.
* Please know, we recommend these books on divorce based on our experience with them and the feedback we’ve received from clients who have read them. The links to each book in this blog will take you to Amazon and should you purchase one using the Amazon links here embedded, SAS for Women will receive a few pennies commission. Though the links are designed for your convenience, you are welcome to buy the books from anywhere you like (your local bookstore perhaps?); just get the education and support you deserve and begin taking care of you.
A book I have found extremely helpful is: “Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships” by John Welwood.