When I talk about relationships, people tend to ask for book recommendations. And I usually share my favorite pure relationship books at the end of Manifest The Perfect Mate: Find the Love and Respect You Desire.
To me, though, some of the best books for strengthening relationships are about communication and perception and attitude changes. They’re about helping us show up fully and authentically in every relationship.
So here’s my quick (alphabetical) rundown of 15 books I recommend you read. Use these to build healthier relationships – now and in the future.
You can borrow many of these titles on Scribd.com or GoodReads.com – or buy them through our bookstore (https://bookshop.org/shop/CMpress) or in used books like Thriftbooks.com (https://paulalangguthryan.com/buy-independent-used-books/)
“Growth is understanding what we have not yet been able to conceive, feeling what we have never felt, doing what we have never done before. It is daring what we have never dared. It may not, therefore, necessarily be pleasurable. It obliges us to leave our comfort zone, to progress into the unknown, to face the tremendous impact of the Self.”– Piero Ferrucci
1. Breaking Free to Health, Wealth and Happiness: 100’s of Powerful Ways to Release Limiting Beliefs (Anne Brewer, Sunstar Publishing, 1999)
Limiting beliefs are the biggest cause of relationship conflicts. Also great for avoiding relationships altogether. The chapter on Love and Relationships is outstanding by itself. Even so, I encourage you to read the whole book. It covers Balance, Purpose, Manifestation, Spirituality and more. Get unstuck. Get more aware of you. Get connected with your personal power and authentic self.
2. Centering and the Art of Intimacy (Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, Fireside, 1985)
How is holding onto anger or fear holding you back from success in relationships? Where are you shutting out love? If questions like these scare you and intrigue you, you’ll love this book. Especially if you often find yourself in the push me/pull you cycle of closeness and aloneness. Discover how to become fully committed to yourself so you can be fully present.
3. Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment…A Way to Be Fully Together Without Giving Up Yourself (Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, Bantam Books, 1990)
Whenever clients are stuck in old limiting patterns – having the same conflicts regularly – I recommend this book. The last three chapters on resolving conflicts, having hard conversations when emotions are high, and keeping the past out of your present will give you new relationship skills. Commitment-phobes highly encouraged to read.
4. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples (Harville Hendrix, Henry Holt, 1988)
I think everyone should receive a copy of this book when they first start dating. It would save years – decades even – of looking for love in all the wrong places! The minute you start becoming conscious of your relationship patterns, you’ll find the tools in this book to be extremely helpful.
5. Gossip: Ten Pathways to Eliminate It From Your Life and Transform Your Soul (Lori Palatnik with Bob Burg, Simcha Press/HCI, 2002)
I recommend this book more often than any other, I’m pretty sure. If you could only make one change in the way you relate to others… if you could only master one relationship skill… make it the complete destruction of all gossip. This tiny, powerful book will truly bring you soul-transforming peace. (I treasure my autographed copy – thanks, Bob!)
6. Keeping the Love You Find: A Personal Guide (Harville Hendrix, Pocket Books, 1992)
Have you loved and lost? Maybe even more than once? Ready to fall in love in a way that’s sustainable? Without compromise? (Which is always a lose-lose). Discover the missing parts of yourself that lead to fully satisfying relationships. Spoiler alert: this book has exercises; like having a personal therapist. Work the exercises – even one paragraph at a sitting – and you’ll find yourself falling in love with yourself! And becoming open to loving another.
7. Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Sharon Salzberg, Shambala, 1995)
How can we love another if we’re constantly being mean to ourselves? That’s the question that led me to read this book decades ago. In my family, sarcasm had achieved family religion status. This is a generous book, helping your spirit relearn the ways of love, compassion, forgiveness and more.
8. Manifest the Perfect Mate: Find the Love and Respect You Desire (Paula Langguth Ryan, G&D Media, 2021)
For decades, I pondered the concept of relationship self-sabotage. Where people say they want something, but actively go out of their way to keep from achieving their desire. If you want a more loving, communicative, connected relationship in your life – but your track record is less than stellar, this book is for you. Great book whether you’re in a lackluster, disconnected relationship or you’re seeking to create a healthy relationship from the start.
9. Permanent Partners: Building Gay and Lesbian Relationships That Last (Betty Berzon, Plume, 1988).
In my previous lifetime, I had a nationally syndicated book review column. And occasionally had the good fortune of interviewing authors. Betty Berzon remains one of my favorite author interviews. This is a book for all relationships. While some material is outdated – given the legal recognition of gay/lesbian relationships – the bones of this book are spot on for any couple interested in learning how to live (in love) with differences, addressing power and control issues, and the inevitability of change in relationships, among other topics.
10. Personal Power Through Awareness (Sanaya Roman, HJ Kramer, 1986)
If you’re ready to strap on your parachute and jump into all the ways you could be more authentically you – and more fully present to another in relationship… this is the foundational book to read. And ponder. A great book for recognizing and releasing the drama that drives too many relationships.
11. Positive Solitude: A Practical Program for Mastering Loneliness and Achieving Self-Fulfillment, (Rae Andre, HarperPerennial, 1992)
So many people are in relationships – or seeking relationships – because they don’t like being alone. When my first major relationship ended, I wanted nothing more than to be alone. This book taught me how to be alone, even in my togetherness with another. I recommend this to everyone I know who comes out of a relationship and wants to learn how to love the company they keep when they’re by themselves. This book will make any future relationship (and even a current relationship) a more powerful, positive one.
12. Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life By Telling the Truth (Brad Blanton, Dell Publishing, 1996; Sparrowhawk Publications, 2005)
Quickest way to end a relationship? Lie about something. Slowest way to end a relationship? Lie about something. Death by a thousand cuts or a single swift stab to trust. Learning to be radically honest means being willing to tell your microscopic truth. This book sparked my interest in how telling the microscopic truth could benefit parties in a negotiation or mediation. It’s the foundation of the work I do in communications. If you want to rid yourself of guilt, stress and anxiety… and create truly authentic relationships in your life.. this book is a must read.
13. Rising in Love: Opening Your Heart in All Your Relationships (Alan Cohen, Hay House, 1996)
We so often see people as “the other.” When The Village Gathering was being born as a spiritual community, this book was a pivotal part of its creation. I’ve long believed that every spiritual community is a microcosm of the relationships of its members. Functional or dysfunctional. A few months before we opened our doors, I jotted this down on a blank page in this book: “The truth of our connection is this: We are angels in a strange land. In you I recognize myself more clearly than ever before.” The perfect book when you’re ready to explore your oneness with everyone and everything.
14. SoulMates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationship (Thomas Moore, HarperCollins, 1994)
Once you get all those pesky limiting beliefs out of the way, and you want to explore the mystery of love and relationships and your role in both, read this book. A tremendous journey into exploring the depths of relationships rather than just skimming the surface.
15. The Tao of Relationships: A Balancing of Man and Woman (Ray Grigg, Bantam, 1988)
This is a fun book for remembering the importance of both male and female energies in our relationships. Inside you’ll find 212 compact teachings that give you something to ponder. A great book to read to each other, adding your own thoughts to each to create deeper communication.
Paula Langguth Ryan created the serious and silly RomantiCom seminars, and wrote the super helpful relationship book “Manifest the Perfect Mate: Find the Love & Respect You Desire” (G&D Media, 2021)