Book recommendations for a breakup
July 11, 2011 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I just got dumped. Could you please recommend some public domain books to help me get through this.

She's gone. I'm a dumbass. She wasn't ready. Two years. It's over.

I haven't the energy or capacity for the foreseeable future to sort things out and staring at the wall ain't helping me figure anything out right now either.

Please help me as best you can with book suggestions, preferably public domain books so that I might read them on my nook in bed and only have to lift a single finger to flip a page. It's about all I can muster.

Thanks in advance.
posted by willie11 to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry, willie11. ...Can you give us a little something more to go on? What kind of books do you find engrossing? I want to recommend something that you're likely to like.

But as a shot in the dark, if you haven't read any Sherlock Holmes, they're pretty damn awesome! And free and available on (my favorite source of public-domain stuff, as it seems to be more nicely formatted).

Also, if you're a fan of (or can tolerate) Edwardian stuff, I'm a huge fan of E.M. Forster's A Room with a View. Yes, it's a romance, but it's also a very go-your-own-way, life-affirming book. The YES!!!
posted by smirkette at 7:56 PM on July 11, 2011

It's not clear what kind of book you're in the mood for, and this might be the exact opposite of what you're in the mood for, but if you're looking for some light-hearted, pleasant, smart comedy to potentially cheer you up, My Man Jeeves (by P.G. Wodehouse) is terrific.
posted by Flunkie at 8:05 PM on July 11, 2011

Maybe something lighter like "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby? Or David Sedaris to make you laugh through the pain? Or do you want something relationship-related? People often recommend "When things fall apart" by Pema Chodron to help others get through things...(subtitled 'Heart advice for difficult times').
posted by bquarters at 8:08 PM on July 11, 2011

If light entertainment is the goal, I'll second Wodehouse for comedy and add Rafael Sabatini for swashbuckling adventure.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:10 PM on July 11, 2011

Response by poster: I'm sorry. I am looking for books to help me try and understand it all. Life, love, pain. Not an escape. I want to feel it. To understand it. To know it as those better capable than I could ever be at explaining it. I need to wallow and grieve and hopefully understand.

More Proust than Sherlock Holmes. But thank you, really. That may be step 2.
posted by willie11 at 8:15 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am looking for books to help me try and understand it all. Life, love, pain. Not an escape. I want to feel it. To understand it. To know it as those better capable than I could ever be at explaining it.
Mindfulness in Plain English?
posted by Flunkie at 8:19 PM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Not entirely cheerful but ⇢ Lady Chatterly's Lover
posted by XMLicious at 8:22 PM on July 11, 2011

I am in the same state as you right now. I'm feeling out the depths of it while reading The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. Long relationship, thorough examination, great prose.
posted by Handstand Devil at 8:28 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

As an author I'd go with Ian McEwan. Probably not public domain, but if I wanted to wallow and feel and understand and be depressed, I might start there. The fact that his books are all brilliant doesn't hurt, either.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:32 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

E.M. Forster's Howards End. It's my favourite of his books, and I think, his best. I have read it many times and I think you might find it comforting.

Here is the Project Gutenberg page; there's also an excellent (free) audiobook version from Librivox, if you'd rather listen to it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:40 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Phew, Howard's End. At once brilliant and depressing as all get-out. Could be exactly what you're looking for, though.

To that end, addressing OP's wish: Madame Bovary by Flaubert, Middlemarch by Elliot and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy (translation is especially important, I think, with Tolstoy, so shop around a bit. Don't give up if you don't like the first version you run across) all featuring women who wanted a very specific thing to the destruction of everything else. Now, their reasons are of varied merit, but that's kind of beside the point, yes? Also n'thing Lady Chatterly's Lover.
posted by smirkette at 9:05 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

More Proust than Sherlock Holmes.

whoa, totally spooky, because proust is exactly what i was going to suggest. It's a golden opportunity - you're bummed, you're effectively a shut-in for the time being, you're searching for meaning, insight, and beauty - frickin go for it. you absolutely cannot go wrong
posted by facetious at 9:06 PM on July 11, 2011

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron is well worth the ~$7.99.
posted by salvia at 9:08 PM on July 11, 2011 [7 favorites]

Sorry to hear you're having a bad time. I recommend: How to Survive the Loss of a Love. The full text is online there, and the book is written in small, very manageable chunks so you can make your way through it at your own pace.
posted by illenion at 9:26 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.
posted by thack3r at 9:31 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I recommend any novel by Banana Yoshimoto - especially my personal favourite, "Kitchen" (I wish it was available in the public domain - but you can access a preview here:
It was the first book that I ever read that really stirred something inside me; her books remind me that it is okay to be alone or lonely, that indeed there is still purpose in what ever happens to us and that nothing we do is in vain.
posted by raintree at 9:44 PM on July 11, 2011

For moments like this, I would turn to Epictetus's enchiridion

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.
posted by lahersedor at 11:47 PM on July 11, 2011

The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope is about a very painful jilting and trying to deal with it and go on.
posted by JanetLand at 2:57 AM on July 12, 2011

Here's some Non Fiction for you
Its Called a Breakup Because its Broken is helpful for moving on.
By Greg Behrendt, Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt, its marketed to women, but i know some men who appreciated it.

Getting the Love you Want by Harvel Hendricks is great for delving into the psyche of love and building relationships in which partners uplift each other.

Pema Chodron is great, I especially enjoy the audio books, her voice is soothing.

As far as fiction, I second Siddartha
posted by muchalucha at 5:33 AM on July 12, 2011

I have sometimes found it helpful in times of spiritual turmoil to read Marcus Aurelius's Meditations.
posted by zoetrope at 8:14 AM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

John McNab by John Buchan is available from Gutenberg. A rollicking tale about how to overcome ennui.
posted by roofus at 10:21 AM on July 12, 2011

My standby book for such situations is The Great Gatsby Not sure if it's still under copyright in the US though.
posted by Net Prophet at 12:23 PM on July 12, 2011

W. Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage." Available at Project Gutenberg.

Good luck and swift recovery for your heart.
posted by Cuke at 7:56 PM on July 12, 2011

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