Relationships are incredibly important for our well-being and quality of life. Having good and loving relationships have a physical impact on our health as well - did you know that people in healthy relationships have a higher life expectancy and are able to deal with the stressors of life due to their solid support system? Health benefits aside, relationships also bring us a lot of joy.
At the end of the day, no one would back in their life and wished that they could have worked more. Oftentimes, the number one regret is not spending more time with their loved ones or mending their relationships. It's never too late to start working on your relationships. The books below offer some wisdom and advice regarding all kinds of relationships - with friends, family, strangers or even your colleagues.
Relationship Building Blocks
When two people come together in a relationship - be it platonic, romantic or familial - they each bring their own sets of experiences, views, perspectives, and baggage. In order for the relationships that you form to be healthy, there are some fundamental ingredients that make them work.
From infants, we instinctively seek intimate connections. This is made possible by empathy, the ability to love and share the feelings of others, and is how our brain learns to bond with others.
Child psychiatrist Bruce D. Perry and science journalist Maia Szalavitz connect developmental psychology, sociology, and history to give an insightful look into how empathy works. They argue that empathy is the foundation of society, and the difficulties related to empathy are why problems like war, crime and racism exist. Worse, they argue that recent changes in culture make it such that children nowadays lack human contact and deep relationships that need to develop empathy properly.
Born for Love is an approachable and engaging read on the importance of empathy, how it is developed and how was can combat the negative influences of modern life and cultivate empathy for the betterment of our relationships and society.
Ever been in relationships where boundaries were crossed and disrespected? Perhaps it was unknowingly crossed because it was never drawn, or you keep moving the line back to avoid confrontation over a crossed boundary. Regardless, having a lack of proper boundaries can lead to strained relationships and feelings of resentment.
If you are struggling with saying no to others at the expense of your own time and energy or even safety, Boundaries is a solid guide on the importance of boundaries, how they are formed and how you can begin to set up boundaries in your own life.
Networking might be a word that conjures up images of exhausting small talk, forced smiles and awkward shallow conversations.
Keith Ferrazzi argues that networking can be a way to build genuine relationships through ways such as being generous and reaching out to those in your circle regularly and not just when you need them for something. Full of advice from his own life and how he managed to form deep relationships with people who then helped him to succeed, this book is for anyone who is looking to network better and form solid relationships.
Healing & Mending
Sometimes we hurt each other in our relationships with others, or other circumstances and situations make things tougher - here are some books with practical advice and some stories of those who worked through tough times to end up with bonds that are stronger and healthier.
Have a difficult relationship with your child who does not seem to listen? Perhaps this trusted guide used by many parents and educators over the years will help!
Setting Limits provides advice for dealing with misbehaviour and creating relationships that are positive, respectful and rewarding. Instead of traditional methods such as nagging, yelling or pleading that get you nowhere, MacKenzie suggests stating expectations and consequences and following through. Filled with examples that illustrate why older methods don't work, this is an essential read for parents looking to shape and guide their children in a loving but firm way.
After being hurt, it's easy to want to take revenge over the more difficult route of confession, forgiveness and reconciliation. Yet, that is exactly what South Africa decided to do after the apartheid. Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Reverend Mpho Tutu lead South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and this book distils their learnings on the art of forgiveness.
They break the process of healing into four important steps which are helpful tools through this painful but necessary journey. Ultimately, Tutu argues that forgiveness is the only way for us to heal both ourselves and the world.
A powerful story about a woman learning to step up and be a mother. Letty Espinosa has been working three jobs to make ends meet for fourteen years, leaving the job of raising her two children to her own mother. When her mother decides to return home, Letty needs to navigate this new terrain that she previously neglected.
With her daughter desperately missing her grandparents, and her teenage son unwilling to give her a chance, Letty comes up with a plan to escape her dangerous neighbourhood in hopes of a better future.
We Never Asked for Wings is a story of how an imperfect mother tries her best to love her children and mend their relationships. A moving and raw read with themes on immigration and bullying, and learning to make a family.
Mary Anne Schwalbe has cancer, and while she is waiting for her chemotherapy treatment, Will asks her what she is reading. This marks the start of a mother-son book club, where they can talk about something other than the sickness whilst they sit in the hospital waiting room, but also a space for them to touch on uncomfortable end-of-life issues. Through reading everything from classics like Howards End to fantastical novels like The Hobbit, their conversations are filled with passion for reading but more importantly, their love for each other.
A moving memoir of a mother-son relationship, and the shared love of reading. Perhaps after reading this book, you might start a book club with one of your loved ones?
Having a loving partner can feel like heaven, and heartbreak can feel like hell. Here are some books to equip you with the tools for a healthy and mature romance with none of the screaming and fighting, and stories about amor.
Have relationship problems? Why not try some therapy? This book breaks down Emotionally Focused Therapy (or EFT), which has been called one of the only types of therapy to work - with a 75% success rate compared to 30% for other forms of relationship therapy.
Learn how you can de-escalate conflict, create safe emotional connections and strengthen bonds between you and your partner. Filled with a program that you can apply to your own relationship, exercises and theories about EFT, Hold Me Tight covers some truly revelatory concepts that can transform your relationship.
Written by the same author of Boundaries, this is a deeper dive into boundaries that are specific to romantic relationships. Giving a comprehensive picture of what dating maturely looks like, you can understand how to distinguish between deep character flaws vs petty annoyances, handle conflict honestly and graciously, and more.
Cloud and Townsend show you how to love others well while also being properly loved. Filled with examples, this is a helpful guide for those who feel like they keep dating the wrong people, or want to learn how to communicate their boundaries more effectively with their significant others.
A cute and whimsical book on expressing the millions of ways we can say "I love you" filled with illustrations of scenarios that are not complete without two.
A fun gift to give to your significant other to show them just how much you love them.
A story for those who have lost, found or are still looking for love.
Pilar has learned to bury her feelings while her handsome childhood friend turned to religion to hide from his inner conflicts. Reuniting with him after eleven years, they embark together on a difficult journey - along the way, the long-buried resentment and blame resurface again. Written with beautiful and lyrical prose, By The River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept is a story of the depth of love and life that might shape the way you think about loss, love and keeping your beliefs.
A funny and smart novel about love, family, and raising children with special needs. Graham is married to his second wife Audra who is warm, loud and eccentric - and she couldn't be more different than his first wife Elspeth who is cool and organised. He wonders - how is it possible to love two such different women? Is there a right choice?
Laugh out loud funny, Heiny provides insights into the state of the family with some truly unforgettable characters as they go through life and try to love each other well.
At The Workplace
We spend will spend around 90,000 hours at work in our lifetime, which means that we also spend a significant amount of time around our colleagues and bosses. If our relationships with them are strained, or we are working in a toxic workplace, no work gets done and we often feel drained and miserable. Find out how you can have happier and healthier work relationships from the books below!
If you are a leader, you have to work with people and that can be tough! Forming strong and good interpersonal relationships is what sets a good leader apart from the rest.
Maxwell writes insightfully about how you can build good relationships with the people around you. Everyone is a leader in their own capacity, and this book shows how you can help the people around you succeed wherever you are.
Trust is the single most important component that makes a leader and organisation successful - and yet it is often overlooked. We work together with people, and work gets done through people. The foundation that enables this to work is through trust - in every single transaction or relationship even if it seems indirect.
The Speed of Trust takes a practical look at how trust functions in our day to day interactions and how you can build trust within your organisation so that time-wasters like bureaucratic processes can be foregone.
As the title suggests, this is a guide on how to deal with difficult people in your life with tact and skill. Especially with technology, it can sometimes be hard to avoid interacting with such people. Revised for the digital age, this bestselling guide shows you how to communicate effectively with different types of people.
Written in a light-hearted manner with mock case studies, readers are also prompted to think about when they have been difficult people in the lives of others. Ultimately, this book aims to help professionals communicate more graciously with each other.
We hope these books are helpful for you - all the best to everyone trying to upgrade their relationships! It might be hard, but it is definitely worth it when you come out the other side with a healthier relationship that nourishes and strengthens you in the face of life's difficulties.
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