These Relationship Books Should Be Required Reading, According to Therapists

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Regardless of your relationship status, it doesn’t take an expert to know that building and maintaining relationships, platonic or romantic, can be challenging. It’s why couples' therapists and relationship experts have been studying and writing relationship books (and articles—have you seen our relationships section on the site?) on the subject for decades. Despite everything we think we know to be true about relationships, though, the fact is that everyone can use some guidance now and again.

If you’re the kind of person whose method of problem solving involves cracking open a new book and doing some homework, then you probably already know that the pickings for relationship books are vast, to say the least. Which is why we asked couples therapists to share their best relationship book recommendations.

Experts In This Article

Even if you’ve never thought about reading a book to improve your relationships, there is truly something for everyone among this list of therapist-approved recommendations. Prefer novels over non-fiction? No problem. Want to boost your sexuality knowledge with science-backed learnings? We have that, too. Craving something more interactive that doles out actionable to-dos for you and your partner? This reading list has all of the above.

TLDR; Whether you’re single, dating, or in a relationship, everyone can reap the benefits of the insights contained in these therapist-approved relationship books. Scroll on for your next read!

Best relationship books at a glance:

Best novel: The Course of Love: A Novel by Alain De Botton ($10)
Best book about self-love: Welcome Home by Najwa Zebian ($12)
Best book for *all* relationships: Attached by Amir Levine ($15)
Best book on sexuality: Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski Ph.D. ($30)
Best book for couples struggling to do it all: I Want This to Work byElizabeth Earnshaw ($23)
Best book for emotional connection: Hold Me Tight byDr. Sue Johnson ($21)
Best book to help heal heartbreak: How To Fix A Broken Heart by Dr. Guy Winch ($14)
Best book for anyone in a committed relationship: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman($14)
Best children’s book that adults can relate to: The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein ($17)

Best novel

the course of love book cover
The Course of Love: A Novel, Alain De Botton — $10.00

Alain De Botton’s The Course of Love is one of my favorite books about relationships—and NY-based therapist Dr. Jeffrey Rubin recommends it, too. “Romantic comedies and popular culture propagate various myths of intimacy—there is one person for you, you know who that person is instantaneously, and love is forever…Alain De Botton’s The Course of Love, which is at once a literary novel and a relationship book, prompts us to think of love in more nuanced and deeper ways,” he says. You’ll love how honest and relatable this book is—and if you’re the kind of person who likes to annotate their books, you’ll want to have a highlighter out for this one.

Best book about self-love

welcome home book cover
Welcome Home: A Guide to Building a Home for Your Soul, Najwa Zebian — $12.00

“This book is all about connecting back to yourself by helping you get to know key pillars of your identity,” explains relationship therapist Erica Turner LPC. Because the relationship you have with yourself is the most important one of them all, Turner says. Welcome Home is required reading for helping readers become their own safe space. “As you begin to feel more secure within yourself, you will feel more empowered to enter the dating world or begin to show up in your current relationship with less fear around being your authentic self,” she tells us.

Best book for *all* relationships

attached book cover

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love, Amir Levine

— $15.00

It’s possible you’ve heard this book referenced more than once, and that’s because the learnings inside are simply too good not to share. Genesis Games LMHC, a Florida-based couples’ therapist, says it’s been instrumental in her own healing journey and those of her patients. “Learning about attachment styles, how they are developed, the dynamic between different attachment styles, and how to heal is very empowering,” she explains. Full of easy to digest info and actionable takeaways, Attached is a must-read no matter your relationship status, according to Games. “Everyone should understand attachment styles, whether you are single, dating, about to break up, or in the healthiest relationship yet. Attachment styles impact all of our relationships, not just romantic ones.”

Best book on sexuality

come as you are book cover
Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, Emily Nagoski Ph.D. — $30.00

Come As You Are is the sex education class you never received,” says Games. “This is a must-read for anyone who grew up in a home where discussing sex was taboo…Honestly, even if you consider yourself sex savvy, I’m pretty certain you will gain a thing or two from this book.” Author Emily Nagoski debunks some of the most pervasive (and damaging) myths about cis-female sexuality, and doles out science-backed research in an easy to read format that’s bound to hold your attention.

Best book for couples struggling to do it all

i want this to work book cover
I Want This to Work: An Inclusive Guide to Navigating the Most Difficult Relationship Issues We Face in the Modern Age, Elizabeth Earnshaw — $23.00

“This one is for the modern day couples juggling it all–dual careers, parenting, social life, aging parents, all of it,” shares Games. “Elizabeth Earnshaw really speaks to the complexities and struggles of modern relationships in practical terms, and arms you with tools and skills…One thing that I really love about this one is its inclusivity.” If you’re interested in building healthy relationships, I Want This to Work should be at the top of your TBR.

Best book for emotional connection

hold me tight book cover
Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Dr. Sue Johnson — $21.00

If you and your partner are working on strengthening your relationship, Turner says Hold Me Tight will help rekindle your bond, and pave the way for meaningful convos. “This book helps couples navigate through seven major themes in all relationships to help build a true emotionally intimate connection,” she explains. “These conversations show the importance of emotional availability and vulnerability in a relationship to help build a sense of safety, trust, and a lasting bond.” What’s more, it has over 3,000 5-star ratings on Amazon, so readers love it, too!

Best book to help heal heartbreak

how to fix a broken heart book cover
How To Fix A Broken Heart, Dr. Guy Winch — $14.00

Anyone who’s ever been through it knows that the pain of heartbreak is real—which is why How To Fix a Broken Heart is one of Genesis’ go-to book recommendations for clients who are struggling. Society does not tend to show empathy for the brokenhearted and therefore it can be a lonely process of grief…People often question why it’s so hard for them to let go and move on,” says Games. “Guy Winch explains the science behind heartbreak in a way that is so easy to understand and incredibly relatable…He also provides research-based tools to heal from heartbreak.” While it’s not a cure-all, Games says the lessons in this book will be key to your healing.

Best book for anyone in a committed relationship

the seven principles book cover
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman — $14.00

Married or not, Genesis says that The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is a must-read for anyone in a committed relationship. “Dr. John Gottman has a wealth of knowledge about fulfilling relationships…This book is all based on over forty years of research and provides a blueprint for long-term relationships,” she says. “Throughout the book, you’ll find activities that allow couples to engage with the material and consider how the findings and concepts relate to their relationship.”

And according to readers, it really works—the book has a whopping 9,000+ 5-star ratings on Amazon! “This book changed our marriage and taught us each so much about ourselves,” wrote one Amazon shopper. “I highly recommend every couple take the time to work through this book together.”

Best children’s book that adults can relate to

the missing piece meets the big o book cover
The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, Shel Silverstein — $17.00

I know what you’re thinking—and yes, this is technically a children’s book—but Jordana Jacobs, PhD, a psychologist at Alma, says the lessons inside are universal, and she actually recommends it to her adult patients all the time. “In my experience, hyper-intellectual language can at times detract from our ability to hear and listen to our heart,” Jacobs explains. “Instead, the Missing Piece Meets the Big O is disarmingly simple, expressing a truth that we all know, but all too often forget: rather than relying on another person to complete you, a healthy connection is one in which two people—together, in the context of a safe relationship—are working towards a sense of wholeness on their own.”

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