12 Best Books for Single Women: The Books You Should Read!Feb 07, 2023
Romantic relationships are tricky and over the years Katie (my Mums' Days and Happily Ever After Podcast teammate) and I have been single ladies from time to time and what we wanted to share today were the best books that really helped during this time.
Single people can feel a bit sh*t and sad and ‘why does no one love me?'
They can also feel incredibly free and excited and liberated, and the self-help books we are talking about in this blog post are the ones that really harness that feeling!
When I first split up with my kids' dad, people were very interested in my love life and I vividly remember having a conversation with my best friend where he was really encouraging me to be single.
I was like, "Yeah! I want to be a strong single woman, who doesn’t need a man or external validation because I’m great just as I am…"
And then I’d slip into, "Oh, do you remember in Bridget Jones Diary when Mark Darcy says he likes Bridget just as she is? Waaaaa. I want that! I’m just going to be a single girl forever and ever."
When you first split up with someone, especially if it involved you being rejected or hurt in some way, you can find that you really want male attention.
There’s a saying “you can’t get over someone unless you’re under someone else.” Terrible, rude idea and mum if you’re reading, I’m really sorry. Close your eyes…
Buuuuuut, in real life it can feel like that straight after a heartbreak. You want to numb the pain, and having exciting sex with someone new, is a great distraction, whilst feeding your ego even for a short time.
Taking your time to find a new way
And yet, and yet … that is just a sticking plaster. So, if you are feeling like this, we implore you to pick up a great book. Maybe even a ton of books.
It's the best thing you can do and the inspirational books that we’re talking about here are ones that have helped us through the worse parts of a break-up. They have taught us some very valuable things about ourselves, the world of love, relationships, codependency, addiction and so much more as we learned to navigate life as single women.
Rather than jumping straight into the dating scene and rushing to update our relationship status, this is the perfect time to explore our own struggles, look at our personal experience of love and understand what we need for a strong relationship in the future.
I think this is especially the case if you have recently become a single parent.
There is also a lot of external pressure for unmarried women to settle down too. But forever is a long time, so it's worth getting it right now and going into your 'entire life' on your own terms!
And, if you're in a relationship?
Well, these are the books, whether you’re single or not, that have the power to change the way we view the world, step away from the drama and stop us from running through those red flags.
A good book, like any of these ones, helps us to learn to love ourselves post-heartbreak and to make sure that we are putting ourselves at the forefront of all future decisions.
"If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?" RuPaul
Without further ado, here are...
Our Favorite Books for the Single Lady
This is the best seller book from novelist and podcaster Dolly Alderton and Katie absolutely loved it... Here's what she says about it:
This book came at me at a time when I really needed it. I've always been a big fan of Dolly's. I used to listen religiously to her podcast, The High Low with Pandora Sykes, and they kind of became like there were friends of mine! She did a lot of talking about writing the book in the lead up, and I was really excited for it to come out. When it did, I went and bought it straight away and devoured it in about two days.
It's a beautiful book about female friendship more than anything else. It's like her memoir. It's the story of her twenties and her early thirties and everything that she goes through and exactly all those feelings you've just been talking about: seeking external validation from men and leaning on her friends. And it just made me feel a lot less alone at a time when I needed it. So Dolly was my friend. She was there for me.
I read Catherine's book Unexpected Joys of Being Sober and absolutely loved it. So, when I went to my local bookshop, Forum bookshop in Corbridge, soon after starting single life, the Unexpected Joys of Being Single jumped off the shelf and I went home and read it cover to cover and then wrote this:
I've barely been single since I was a teenager, so that part of my brain has no reference to reality. When I met my kids dad, age 26, I had been ‘single’ for 2 months (after a 5-year relationship), I was a BIG drinker, going out a lot and dating multiple guys. Not much time working out who I really was when flying solo 🤔 my main focus was getting attention from men for validation. I AM a worthwhile human because that hammered dude says I’m pretty. *Swoons*
While the rest of me has grown up a bit (eg I have dependents to care for) the single part of my brain has started to complain and look for external validation.
I finished the book today and it has given my 26-year-old-single-brain the kick in the butt it needed to catch up with my 37-year-old-ness. The one that has ambitions and interests and SO MANY EXCITING THINGS to do.
Everyone knows that a new love interest is an excruciating distraction. Its far too early, and I definitely DO NOT need one interfering with all the exciting stuff I’ve got going on.
You and me, we are great as we are. Whether you're married or not, YOU are a wonderful individual, and so I am. I’ve worked really hard to get to a place where I can do the things I love and that make me happy. And iI want to keep doing that.
So I am single and NOT ready to mingle. High Fives!
I'll leave you with this quote from the book - it made me cry when I read it, simple as it is…
“Don’t play it safe, in your imaginings. Write a list of things you long for, that don’t include any kind of romantic entanglement, and then go after them with all the caution and trepidation of a comet.” Catherine Grey
This is another must-read book for Katie and she says:
I came to this book with a little bit of trepidation but it was amazing. So it's not just about sex. It's actually a book about feminism. It's a book about trauma healing. It's a book about mindfulness. It's written by Dr. Emily Nagoski, who is just wonderful. She has also, I think, written books on taking time for yourself and not being burnt out and all of the things we need to do more of in life. And it just totally reframed the way that I thought about not only sex but about relationships and romantic love. When you're going through a Break-Up or something, it's really important to look at these things.
It's really helpful if you are already in a relationship because we all know that there are certain parts in relationships where you can lose the sex life part of it, and it reframes your thinking for that as well. So it's a really important book for people who are in relationships as well. Even if you've got great sex life, honestly, I would really recommend it to anybody.
Yes this is in the romance novels space and it ends in a certain way but not until Rachel's been to hell and back and spent a full year celibate. I’ve only read this recently but I wish I’d read it when I first became single as there are some many lessons on addiction, being single, external validation - all the things. And I also think a novel is a lovely thing to get lost in when you’re having a hard time and don’t necessarily fancy reading a self-help book that might feel like homework at times. I tend to listen to self-help when I’m driving but read my fiction.
As Daisy says in Burn Before Reading, and I paraphrase - we're learning crucial things about life and love and ourselves when we read novels but in a more relaxing, unplugging way. So I really wanted to include a great novel in this list.
The main theme of this book is more... you know that feeling of wanting more cake, or more time with a sexy person. Or more alcohol, etc. This is all caused by a chemical in the brain called Dopamine. Katie says this:
I feel like this book was a great read and really helpful for reframing why you might want certain things (that may sabotage your relationship or your health). And at a time when you are uncertain, like when you're going through a Break-Up or if you're questioning your relationship, then it gives you a bit of understanding as to why you want certain things or behave in certain ways. It's this dopamine. That's what it does to you. And, it's normal. It's a brain chemical.
"Dopamine isn't the pleasure molecule after all. It's the anticipation molecule to enjoy the things we have as opposed to the things that are only possible. Our brains must transmit from future oriented dopamine to present oriented chemicals. A collection of neurotransmitters we call the here and now molecules or H and N. Most people have heard of the H and N's. They include serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins, which are your brain's version of morphine and a class of chemicals called endocannabinoids, which are your brain's version of marijuana, as opposed to the pleasure of anticipation via dopamine. These chemicals give us pleasure from sensation and emotion. In fact, one of the endocannabinoid molecules is called Anandamide. Named after a Sanskrit word which means joy, bliss and delight."
Cheryl Strayed is the woman that wrote Wild, and then Reese Witherspoon played her in the movie if you recall. And, I remember watching that and being like, wow, look at how wonderfully single she is. Isn't this empowering?
But she also writes, she wrote an advice column for years called Dear Sugar. And people would write to her Dear Sugar and it is these questions and answers that make up this new york times bestseller, Tiny Beautiful Things.
Oh, my God, this book, I swear! I have been listening to it again in the car recently, and as soon as I started listening to it, I was like, Oh, I've already read this, but probably about like five, six, seven years ago. And I'd forgotten, but. I just feel like she just gets life. She knows how to avoid drama. She's been through some hideous, hideous things in her life, which she shares. And it just helps put things in perspective. It helps you understand why you're doing certain things the way you're doing it. She looks at cheating. She looks at grief. She looks at Icky thoughts that turn you on. It's like all the things that you want to maybe understand but are maybe too scared to think about. It's covered in this book, and I swear to God, it's the book I'm going to give to people for the rest of my life.
To Be Read
We actually could go on and on about all the great books we’ve read. And, I’ve not even mentioned Untamed: stop pleasing and start living by Glennon Doyle of “we can do hard things’ fame (This is a must-read book if you are becoming a single parent. I found her advice on how to break the news to your children and then go on to co-parent with your ex-partner to be so enlightening and helpful. It's also wonderful if you are suffering with low self-esteem)!
But we’ll end it here and if you enjoyed it, please do let us know and we’ll do another list of books we loved in another blog post!
I'll leave you with 5 of our TBRs (to be read) which are also recommended for Single women!
- The 5 love languages - singles edition by Gary Chapman
- Spinster: Making a life of ones own by Kate Bolick
What have you read that you'd recommend? Let us know and if you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, you can email [email protected] or DM through instagram @mumsdays or @happilyeverafterpod.