Sometimes you need nonjudgmental guidance. Maybe even guidance that you can carry around in your purse or backpack.
When I was first divorced and looking for a book to help me through this tough time, the number of options was overwhelming. Truth be told getting up in the morning was overwhelming some days, but that did eventually get easier.
Here are the top twelve books I recommend, when you are first divorced. Click on any of the books below to go to learn more. about the book.
The First Book to Read When You Separate
How to Survive the Loss of a Love
The first time my life fell apart, this book discovered me. Devastated, I craved self-help books and stood browsing in that section of the bookstore. This book literally fell off the shelf at my feet. I took it as a sign and bought it.
This is one of the top ten books I recommend to my psychotherapy clients and I have read it many times. It is written in a combination of bullet points and short poems, which is perfect for times when you are too depressed to really read. Reading this book, you will feel assured that you are not the only person who has felt this way. It is not only good for the death of or divorce from a love, but also the other many losses in life. If you get only one book during the first few weeks after a divorce or if you are looking for a gift for a friend, this is the book.
The Total Money Makeover
Going from two incomes to one is rarely easy, but Dave Ramsey gives baby step advice. He lays it all out for you, which is empowering. Ramsey also shares stories of people who have done the seemingly impossible when it comes to paying off debt. He has multiple other resources on his website, but this book is a great place to start getting control of your money. If you need more support, look for one of his Financial Peace University classes in your area. In my town, several local churches have hosted the class. Do not put your head in the sand; you need to take control of your finances.
Books to Inspire You
The Book of Joy
This is my current favorite book. I recently listened to the audio version while on a road trip and it infused me with peace. Desmond Tutu lived through apartheid in South Africa. Dalai Lama has lived most of his life in exile from his homeland and was taken from his family as a very young child. I can not imagine two people who are more qualified to give guidance about finding joy when life is not how you want it to be. I think everyone can benefit from the words of these two wise men. If you are struggling, this book’s spiritual wisdom and practical tips will encourage you to discover joy in the midst of it.
I discovered this book during another time my life was falling apart. I have read it many times and have recommended it many times to people going through hardships. My favorite concept from the book is that although some people grow spiritually through prayer and meditation, others need pain and suffering to grow spiritually. During my dark days, this idea helps me believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train. I hope it gives others that comfort as well.
You Are a Badass
This is another one of my new favorites. Jen Sincero is inspiring and funny. The two previous inspirational books on my list are fantastic, but if you need some humor with your inspiration, this is the book you should to start with. As you may have guessed, it does contain a bit of swearing. You Are a Badass is not just for the newly divorced. It is for anyone who has self-limiting beliefs.
Sincero has written another book, You Are a Badass at Making Money. I haven’t read that one yet, but I bet it is fabulous. If you have read it, please let me know in the comments if it is as badass as I think it will be.
Books to Help the Kids Through Your Divorce or Break-up
If you want to know what your kids want you to know about getting divorced, you can eavesdrop here. Now for the books:
Mom’s House, Dad’s House
I read the first one when I got divorced. It helps you understand the importance of making both parents’ homes home for the kids. There are also practical tips for co-parenting. These are classics filled with practical advice.
This book is also a classic. The author, Mar Brown is the author of the popular Arthur series I have it in my office and have read it with kids so many times that it is falling apart. It is a bit too childish for kids over eight or ten. I have, however, been able to use it with young teens (when it looked newer) by asking for their advice in using it with younger kids. The words and ideas are very straightforward, but the silly pictures make hard ideas easier to talk about.
What to Read Before You Start Dating
Conventional wisdom says to wait before starting to date after divorce. Often, you will think you are ready before you are. There are so many excuses and justifications. “It has really been over for a long time,” or variations thereof, are the most common. You may think the wait rule does not apply to you and that you are the exception. However, it is probably best to wait one or two years after the divorce is legally final. Yes, I know the process can go on so very long. You are probably out of practice dating, and the stakes are higher now that you have children. Do yourself a favor and evaluate if your man-picking skills could use some work. Read both of the following books before you start dating. You will be glad you did.
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
John Gray may seem old-fashioned but read this book anyway. Even if you do not agree with him, it is important to recognize that there are stages in a relationship. When you get ahead of the other person in the stages, you will be hurt, sad, disappointed, and angry. You can avoid a lot of hurt by recognizing the stages. This book will help you understand what stage the other person is in, and where you are so you do not get too far ahead of yourself.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
Steve Harvey differs with Gray about when to include sex in a relationship. Harvey really confronts ladies on not assuming that what you are thinking is what the man is thinking. The humor in this book is delightful.
Books to Read When You First Get Divorced and Need to Escape
This book is short and easy to read. It is a classic tale of transformation. At one level, it is the story of a shepherd boy who goes on a long journey. That level is simple and sweet, and it could even be a children’s book. If and when you are ready, you will see so much more. It is about going on a long journey, learning life lessons, and coming home to ourselves. This is one of the books I have read multiple times.
Geraldine Brooks is another author I was introduced to through an audio book on a road trip. This is a fabulous story about an ancient Jewish text and the lives of the many people who touched it. It is also a reminder that whatever stage we are in, this too shall pass. Life is more than just a snapshot in time. When you are going through tough times, that is important to remember. Brooks has several other excellent books, so click on the book below and check out some of her other stories. This was just my introduction to her, but it is one of her best.
What would you add to this list? Do you have a favorite self-help book or a favorite story or genre that transports you briefly to another world? Let me know in the comments. Or, if you have read one of these books, tell me if you found it to be helpful.
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