If we were to ask you what kept you sane and steady in the past year or two, most of you would probably say that you found your biggest strengths in the close relationships you have. Our relationships with our friends, our families and our partners have been the reason for some stolen moments of joy that have become so infrequent during this pandemic.
But even the best of relationships fray and lag, and could sometimes use a little help. Even if there’s nothing wrong as such, there’s always room to make your relationship stronger.
And, being the relationship nerds that we are, we at Bonobology went deep into our bibliophile book stacks to bring you some of the best relationship books to read. These could help your relationships go from ‘great’ to ‘even better.’
21 Of The Best Relationship Books To Read
These 21 best relationship books will help you navigate through any new relationships you may have begun, and offer new enlightenment on your committed relationships. I personally believe that these are the best relationship books because they offer three common factors:
- An understanding of the relationship problems you have been facing.
- An explanation and deep dive into to you what or where mistake were made.
- A restorative solution that will guide you further in your committed journey.
These books aren’t necessarily just for those who are facing relationship problems, or even just romantic relationships. Perusing these books could help strengthen an already healthy relationship, and friendships as well.
1. Getting The Love You Want -By Harville Hendrix
If you and your partner tend to get caught up in how you should be and how you should react to each other, this classic book on relationship guidance is for you. Educators and relationship therapists Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen Lakely Hunt have over 30 years of experience in guiding couples and writing about relationships, and it shows!
This book dives into what ails relationships, explains the psychology of love and gives you clarity on to how to inspect and tackle tricky love situations in our own unique ways, instead of being hung up on what should be.
Related Reading: Sensible Tips For Conflict Resolution In A Relationship
While you should definitely read it if your relationship is facing troubles, this is book is not limited to rocky relationships only. This is also one of the best books to read to understand the foundations of a good relationship and will help you and your partner understand your relationship better.
2. Attached: The New Science Of Adult Attachment And How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love
By Amir Levine & Rachel S.F. Heller
We’ve all heard of attachment. But did you know that there are different kinds of attachment and that they affect how you love someone? This book explains the rationale between anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, and secure attachment, and then delves into how each of these plays on our behavior in loving and romantic relationships. In other words, it addresses the question of how does your attachment affect relationships.
This is a great book on relationships that outlines the various worries we have about relationships, romantic or otherwise. If you’ve ever felt alone in your concerns, if you want to form better, more meaningful relationships, or if you’re simply interested in the psychology of love, this one’s for you.
3. All About Love
By Bell Hooks
No one writes about love quite like feminist icon Bell Hooks. From the love lessons we learn as children, to cultural depictions of love, to deeply intimate personal anecdotes, this book brings new meaning to how we understand love.
It’s tough to call this a relationship book because it’s so much more. Hooks talks about the interconnectedness of our love life with self-love, and the importance of unlearning old lessons as we learn new ones.
If you’re trying to expand the art and practice of loving people, and yourself, this is definitely the best book for you.
4. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations For A Lifetime Of Love
By Sue Johnson
Who among us doesn’t have relationship baggage, right? And this baggage often makes it difficult to have open and healing conversations with our partners and loved ones.
Well, worry not, Dr. Sue Johnson will come to your rescue. This book brings forth the concept of Emotionally Focused Therapy, introduced by Dr. Johnson. In this book, she takes us back to the less-than-happy moments of relationships and makes us observe them through new eyes by asking these seven healing questions which result in us having a better perception of our relationship, and how and where we are doing things wrong.
If you have unresolved emotions that are causing relationship roadblocks, take up this best relationship book. After all, all solutions begin with open and honest conversation.
5. The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work
By John Gottman
Dr. John M. Gottman is known as America’s foremost relationship expert, and his research is often seen as the pinnacle of guidance on repairing and sustaining marriage.
If you’re tired of relationship books that are vague or packed with too much psycho-chatter, this is the book for you. Gottman gives us clear scientific strategies and resources as to what works in a marriage and what will cause them to break. In the end, it’s up to the reader to decide what course they should take.
Related Reading: 7 Steps To Cultivate Harmony In A Relationship: Expert Tells You
Academics considers this the best relationship book for people who are stepping into a commitment and those who already are committed and looking forward to a peaceful yet fulfilling committed life.
6. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts
By Gary Chapman
So, you like to bring your sweetheart chocolate and flowers, and she never returns the gesture. But, she’s great at giving plenty of hugs and kisses. Looks like your love languages are different.
It’s no secret that love is unique and everyone feels, gives and receives love in different ways. But it’s tough in a relationship when you don’t express your love the same way. Gary Chapman’s beloved book on love languages endorses and embraces this uniqueness and tells you how to bring harmony between these different spectrums of love. So if you’re having communication problems in a relationship, here’s some help.
This relationship book is suitable for those of you trying to understand what’s causing problems in your relationships. You admit freely to loving each other and yet, it’s not working out. Read this book together, and maybe you’ll hear each other better.
7. Models: Attract Women Through Honesty
By Mark Manson
Gentlemen, pull up your socks and put on your reading glasses.
Mark Manson is known for raw, refreshing honesty, and this book is no different. His take is that seduction is less about impressing and more about connecting. In other words, bring your A-game when you flirt, but be sincere and smart about it.
In the category of ‘best relationship book,’ this one certainly stands out, as it advises you to be a little less emotionally immature before trying to get your girl. The book is directed mostly at men who want to date women, but we think emotional maturity and authentic connection are things we could all use in our love lives.
So, if you’re just getting into the game, and you’re unsure of the rules, pick up this book for a little help in getting out of your own head, and into someone else’s heart.
8. Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, And The Way Forward
By Gemma Hartley
Yes, we know this doesn’t sound much like a relationship book. But let’s face it: The best of relationships, the cleanest houses, most efficiently run offices, take plenty of emotional labor, and most of it is traditionally taken on by women. And, that doesn’t make for a truly equal partnership, no matter what your relationship.
If you’re not sure what emotional labor is, here’s a line from the book that we love:
‘For every task that produces a physically visible result, there are many
mental steps behind it that remain unseen. Those steps are largely noticed,
tracked, and executed by women.’
Journalist Gemma Hartley’s book is a glimpse of this all-pervasive issue and the emotional baggage women carry as result, both in their public and private lives. And while emotional labor largely affects women, it is in no way merely a ‘women’s issue’.
If you’re looking to become a better partner, friend etc., or if you’d just like a look at how emotional labor affects relationships, we recommend you read this book.
Related Reading: Gender Equality In A Marriage And Taking Care Of Parents In Old Age
9. Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close
By Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman
We talk so much about romance as the highest rung of the relationship ladder. But, what about friendship? What if friendships were our most significant relationships?
That’s the crux of Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close.
Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman chronicle their decade-long friendship with humor and poignancy, talking about working together, how they navigated race in their interracial friendship, working with a close friend and much more.
If you’re someone who values friendships above all else and thinks it does not get enough credit, pick up this book, easily one of the best relationship books out there.
10. How To Fall in Love With Anyone: A Memoir In Essays
By Mandy Len Catron
Mandy Len Catron’s memoir uses history, biology, literary theory and science to take a closer look at love. This is an intimate conversation with the author on how love can offer an introspective view of what it means to love oneself or others, be loved and how we present this love to the world.
It also asks and answers questions on what makes love and relationships last.
Len Catron is known for a popular essay she penned for The New York Times’ Modern Love column about an experiment she conducted – creating intimacy between strangers using a series of 36 questions. This book is, in many ways, an expansion of the column she wrote.
This is considered the best relationship book because it answers intimate questions about what it is to love and how do we hold onto it long term.
11. The Enneagram in Love
By Stephanie Barron Hall
With this best relationship book as your guide, you can learn about self–discovery, along with love and what it means. This book uses a motivation-based personality system that will help you to form loving, meaningful partnerships.
The Enneagram in Love focuses on romantic relationships but is meant for you if you are looking for self-help and to improve your relationship with others, be it a romantic partner, a friend, or anyone else.
12. How To Be An Adult In Relationships: The Five Keys To Mindful Loving
By David Richo
“Most people think of love as a feeling,” says David Richo, “but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.” In this best relationship book, Richo provides us a new outlook on what love is and how relationships are formed and give meaning to our life. Based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, this book offers five important mantras to a successful relationship.
This book is suitable for anyone who is looking forward to enhancing their relationship or facing trouble with their partners and want to keep the relationship peaceful.
13. Daring Greatly: How the Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
By Brené Brown
There are moments in our relationship when we all feel vulnerable, and we’re often taught that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. Famous for her Ted Talk, ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, Brown flips the narrative here and talks about how vulnerability in love is actually an act of courage.
The book underlines that it’s okay to be vulnerable and fear getting hurt and facing rejection in a relationship.
What makes this one of the best relationship books is that it teaches readers how to be vulnerable and powerful. The shared vulnerability has the power to form strong, meaningful bonds, and Brown’s book is a great manual for it.
14. Loving Bravely
By Alexandra H. Solomon
If you’ve ever asked yourself whether you’re meant to be in a relationship, this is a good read for you. This book helps you on your journey of self-discovery and provides a checklist of qualities that signal your readiness to become a committed partner.
This self-help book provides you a roadmap on how to take care of yourself in order to take care of your relationship.
This is great for anyone who wants to evolve in their relationship, become a better person and a better partner. Read it. We’re sure your partner will thank you!
15. Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach To Nonviolent Communication
By Oren Jay Sofer
Are you good at communicating? Good communication is one of the pillars of a healthy relationship, but it’s not always easy to communicate everything to someone you love. This best relationship book teaches you how to get better at it.
Communication has been an issue at one time or another in every relationship. Whether you want to tell your partner their cooking isn’t great, or you want to have a conversation about (gasp!) money, how you express yourself is important.
This is a book meant for everyone struggling to have important conversations with their partners, or wondering how to listen better.
16. How To Be A Person In The World
By Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky is the author of Ask Polly, the advice column at New York Magazine’s The Cut. If you’re a regular reader of the column, you know that she has a knack for guiding souls through the troubled waters of relationships, job woes, family worries, etc.
How to Be a Person in the World is a collection of all-new Q&As which will help you sail through your modern-day relationship storms to the shore of utmost enlightenment where you live happily ever after with your partner.
This collection has questions and letters written to Ask Polly, asking about everything from work to marriage to romance. And how to make marriage and romance work.
This falls into the realm of best relationship books for those who enjoy a sharp, humorous take on life’s problems.
17. Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication In Sex, Kink, and Relationships
By Stella Harris
So, how long have you been hiding the scented lube in your bedside drawer because it’s just not a conversation you want to have with your partner?
We get it. Sexual fantasies and kinks can be tough to bring up. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
Related Reading: The Dynamics And Importance Of Sex In A Relationship
If you face trouble expressing your desires and needs to your partner, perhaps it’s time to read what sex educator Stella Harris has to say. Coach Harris offers honest advice for asking for what you want and sorting out your uncertainties. There are also practical tips to navigate shame, insecurity, and awkwardness around these conversations.
Since we’re all creatures of desire, we recommend Tongue Tied to everyone who’s finding it difficult to communicate their desires to their partners. Remember, you are allowed to want what you want, and have fun doing it!
18. The Art Of Showing Up
By Rachel Wilkerson Miller
Showing up is a pillar of every successful relationship, including the relationship you have with yourself. The Art of Showing Up is considered to be one of the best relationship books by experts. It revolves around a simple mantra. In order to take care of your relationship first, you need to take care of yourself.
Sounds simple, right? Well, sometimes it’s not, and then where this book comes in. Lack of time, circumstances make us flakey, and we end up forgetting appointments, missing out on get-togethers, and just generally stop showing up for our people.
This relationship book is for everyone who wants to be a good partner to themselves and to others when things are tough, and even when they’re easy.
19. Mating In Captivity: Reconciling The Erotic And The Domestic
By Esther Perel
Couple’s therapist Esther Perel is a noted expert on erotic intelligence. No, that’s not about finding intelligence erotic. Instead, Perel states in this book that sexual desire itself is intelligent, and can be sustained in long-term relationships if intelligence is used.
If you’re in a passionless or sexless relationship and you’re contemplating getting your pleasures elsewhere, perhaps you could read this book first.
Perel’s 20 years of research comes into play as she talks about bringing joy and fun back into long-term sexual desire, and how to keep it exciting and passionate.
20. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs
By Emerson Eggerichs
What does everyone need in a relationship? It’s pretty simple – love and respect.
Attaining these, though? Not that simple. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs has some tips for you.
This book explains how to maintain love and respect in your relationship even after decades of dating and being with each other. In other words, how to keep the spark alive.
This qualifies as the best relationship book and should definitely be on your reading list if you are someone trying to understand your rocky or not-so-rocky relationship and wanting to transform it into something more meaningful.
21. The All-Or-Nothing Marriage: How The Best Marriages Work
By Eli J. Finkel
A review of this particular book says, “The structure of modern successful marriages is revealed in this inspiring and useful new perspective on the most important relationship a human being can have.”
This intro seems enough as a good enough reason as to why it is considered by experts to be one of the best relationship books.
Related Reading: 15 Tips For A Successful Marriage
Eli J. Finkel argues that while earlier marriage was all about protection and stability, modern marriage has different goals of self-discovery and personal growth. How then do we navigate these new goals in a new world, while still learning from the old-time marriages?
The All-Or-Nothing Marriage is for anyone who is married, or wants to be, or used to be. Like everything else, marriage is changing, and Finkel has some great hacks for this new normal.
It’s hard to learn about love from books, but we hope these help you to love better and understand the complexities of modern relationships with a little more depth. Love doesn’t come easy and there is no how-to guide for it, but hey, we need all the help we can get.