Relationship books get a bad rap as vacant, campy pieces of dribble. Maybe they are, but I care not. In honor of the impending Valentine’s Day, here are six that I think are great:
1. Boundaries, Anne Katherine.
My mom’s favorite self-help book ever. I used to be annoyed when she told me that the answer to every relationship question was to set proper boundaries, but then I realized she was right. Read this gem and see for yourself.
2. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, John Gray.
I first read this in college and man was I grateful. I was frustrated by the fact that boys tended to run for the hills when I showered my love on them in the form of cupcakes/half-birthday presents/giant fortune cookies (yes, really). But then I read the chapter on how men are like rubber bands. They need to be allowed to stretch waaaaay far away before they can snap back. While I was skeptical at first, subsequent living has confirmed to me that this is totally true.
3. Yes Please, Amy Poehler.
I know you are thinking hey girl, wait, Amy is a lady who makes jokes, not a relationship guru. But there are three aspects of her book that make it relevant here. The first is the chapter on sex, which offers some smart ground rules and straight-up wisdom for your next nefarious encounter. Her chapter on divorce is also brilliant, and kind; I like that she keeps it clean and doesn’t badmouth her former partner. The last great thing about this book is Amy’s kickass attitude, which is a vital part of any healthy relationship (and life). You are awesome, Amy tells us. Forget the haters.
4. The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, Dan Savage.
Savage Love rules, amirite? This was the first book to make me feel like it was truly okay to step out of the cookie-cutter Hallmark relationship box and actually do what I wanted. My favorite part is when Savage discusses how he and his partner Terry deal with feelings of attraction towards other people. While I’m not going to reveal all his sage advice, I will say he offers something much more thoughtful than the typical you will only see your partner why would you even think of others in a sexual way you dirty heathen let’s suppress our feelings.
5. Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found, Sophie Blackall.
Love! Is possible! In the modern age! Read this when you’re home in your pajamas, desperately trolling HBO Go for unwatched episodes of SATC. It will remind you that true love can still be found today, despite the rampant cynicism. But remember: missed connections only come to those who get out of their slippers and kimonos and into shamelessly public spaces.
6. The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever Written, Cathy Winks and Anne Semans.
Written by two rad ladies who run a sex shop in San Francisco, Good Vibrations is widely regarded by the Amazon community as the definitive word on all things sexual. Though I haven’t yet read it, I’m confident based on excerpts and reviews that this modern text will help humans of all stripes and proclivities understand the ins and outs of sex in all its messy glory. As such, I invite everyone to join me in making this our 2015 Valentine’s Day book of choice.