15 Books and Films To Mend a Broken Heart
Everybody hurts sometimes, as the famous R.E.M. song goes. Valentine's Day can be an especially difficult time for those who are unhappily single, lovelorn, or have recently undergone a breakup. Take heart: here's a list of five nonfiction books and ten films that remind readers and viewers that love can be complicated, and they are not alone in experiencing relationship frustrations. With these suggested works, readers can feel some schadenfreude and take comfort in that their romantic situation could be a lot worse.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari with Eric Kleinenberg
Dating and navigating romantic relationships nowadays is a digital and social jungle. Comedian Aziz Ansari and New York University sociologist Eric Kleinenberg take readers on a deep dive into the chaos that is the modern dating landscape with interviews and information surveys while also offering some humor on the side.
It's Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons Why You Are Single by Sara Eckel
Writer Sara Eckel challenges the idea that people (particularly women of a certain age) are single because of some internal emotional problems—be it having low self-esteem, being too negative or too unwilling to settle. Instead, Eckel encourages readers to stop self-analyzing about what is going wrong and the real important part is to figure out what is going on right in their lives.
If Someone Says "You Complete Me," Run!: Whoopi's Big Book of Relationships by Whoopi Goldberg
Award-winning entertainer Whoopi Goldberg deconstructs the myth that all romantic relationships have to be perfect with her trademark frank, off-the-cuff sense of humor. Goldberg tells readers that they will be fine on their own if they live a life "that is full and complete and rich in experience and feeling and creativity and love as possible."
The 5 Love Languages: Singles Edition by Gary Chapman
Yes, this is another volume from the popular 5 Love Languages series. This book is geared to all single adults—those who never-married, are divorced, separated, single parents and those who have lost a spouse. Gary Chapman reminds readers there many different types of love in life besides the romantic type and he tries to help readers improve how they express their feelings "to build wholesome, supportive relationships by learning to speak other people's primary love languages and better understand your own primary love language."
It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History by Jennifer Wright
People go to extraordinary lengths to break or keep a relationship, and this book chronicles some of the most extreme examples of failed romances among famous and not-so-famous artists, writers, actors, musicians and European nobles, including King Henry VIII, Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde and the love triangle between Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor. May your own breakup never involve beheadings, a fake funeral, or jail.
Joel Barish tries to erase former girlfriend Clementine Krucztnski from his mind using a new form of medical technology. Complications ensue when he decides to stop the procedure.
In the Mood for Love, (2000), PG
Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow, two lonely neighbors living in 1960s Hong Kong, form an intimate friendship as their spouses become distant.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, (1988), R
Spanish actress Pepa experiences two days of over-the-top dramatic events as she tries to get in touch with her ex-lover, Iván, while her neighbor and his family and lovers get in the way.
The Lobster, (2016), R
It's hunting season figuratively and literally in this dystopian film as single people are forced to find a partner within 45 days or be turned into animals.
Ex-Machina, (2015), R
Robots are not good replacements for human lovers, especially if the robot is treated poorly and has true artificial intelligence.
Her, (2013), R
Some people take their love of computers, cell phones and other smart devices a little too far in this near-future sci-fi tale about Theodore and Samantha, his new operating system.
Happy Together, (1997), no rating
Ho Wu-Ping and Lai Yiu-fai, two gay Hong Kong tourists, try to revive their relationship with a trip to Argentina. Results vary.
Blue is the Warmest Color, (2013), NC-17
French high school student Adèle is surprised to find herself falling for Emma, a twenty-something art school student, and the film chronicles the ups and downs of their romance.
Top Five, (2014), R
Andre Allen, a comedian attempting to be a serious actor, reconsiders his engagement to a reality television star Erica Long when he does a day-long interview with journalist Chelsea Brown.
(500) Days of Summer, (2009), PG-13
Tom Hansen thinks he found his soul mate in co-worker Summer Finn, who doesn't believe in love. Post-breakup, Tom analyzes the relationship with help from his sister and friends.
Bonus Musical Selection
Company: A Musical Comedy, (2008)
Single New Yorker Bobby questions his bachelor status and wonders if he would be better being in a steady relationship like his married friends or staying alone. The songs and sentiments expressed in this 1970 Stephen Sondheim musical still resonate today and this 2006 Broadway production won a Tony for best revivial of a musical.