Recommended Reading


These are some of my all-time favorite books on the subject of Love and relationships. I have found these books to be incredibly wise and insightful and even transformational . . .

The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck, M.D. (Psychiatrist)

This book is a classic!  The entire book is eye-opening and transformational–the first two sections in particular (Section I: Discipline; and Section II: Love)–if read carefully, thoughtfully, deliberately, and slowly.  This book truly is a must read!

Passionate Marriage” by David Schnarch, Ph.D.

Word for word, this book is as powerful and potentially transformational as Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled.”  So much of what Schnarch talks about dovetails so nicely with what Peck is delineating or with helps fill in what was missing in Peck’s discussion of love and relationships.  “The Road Less Traveled” and “Passionate Marriage” are my top two go-to books on love and relationships, and even life.  To read these two books slowly and deliberately is to be rewarded with a new point of view that can change your life and your relationships radically and deeply for the better.

The Four Loves” by C. S. Lewis

Another one of my all-time favorite books on the subject.  Lewis wisely and beautifully discusses and describes the four loves–Affection, Friendship, Eros, and Charity.  “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” (From the book)

The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm (Psychiatrist)

One of the keys to reading and learning that I stumbled on early on was reading who and what my favorite authors read.  One of Peck’s favorites was Erich Fromm.  And in many ways, Peck’s thinking and writing is a continuation of and deepening of many of the lines of thought that Fromm had opened up.  “The Art of Loving” is a classic.

The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, Ph.D.

A wonderful and encouraging book.  Provides a very hope-filled and inspiring and practical way of more tangibly showing love to your partner.  When we genuinely love another, we need to stretch ourselves so that we communicate our love in a way that is not only meaningful and natural to us, but that is also meaningful and natural to our partner.

On Love and Loneliness” and “On Relationship” both by Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti is a no-holds bar truth-teller–which means I love his style and his writings!  If you can stand the heat and his honesty, he will definitely provide you with plenty of good food for thought.

A Little Book on Love(reissued asThe Wisdom of Love: Toward a Shared Inner Search“) by Jacob Needleman

A beautifully written and thought-provoking book that suggests that the highest form of love possible between two adults isn’t romantic love, but a much deeper and lasting love based on a shared common search for real inner development and true personal and moral growth.  I highly recommend this book!

A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson

The preface and the first six sections of this book (up to and including the section on “Relationships”–and especially this section) are the parts that by far I have dog-eared, annotated, highlighted the most.  I first read this book about 15 years ago, and it has certainly contributed to and clarified and even challenged my thinking on what Love actually is! “The disappearance of romantic fervor doesn’t necessarily spell the end of an otherwise wonderful relationship, except to the ego” (pg. 123); and “A woman once said to me after a situation in which I felt betrayed, ‘I never intended to hurt you.’ I said, ‘But you never intended to love me, either.’  Love is not neutral. It takes a stand” (pg. 166).

* more titles to be added soon eventually at some point & as warranted*

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16 Responses to Recommended Reading

  1. I really recommend the book “Divine Madness: Archetypes of Romantic love” : It blew my mind and soul to help me really see some of the amazing ways love functions, and how we must delve into ourselves to truly understand how we are engaging in love and use it to finally transform as a person with a whole Self:(Combines spirituality, the deeper mystical teachings of Christianity, Islam, and other traditions, along with mythology, and in my opinion one of the most mature and ripe form of Jungian psychoanalysis I have read so far on the topic)
    http://www.amazon.com/Divine-Madness-John-Haule/dp/0877734836

    • John says:

      Hello Reza,

      Thank you for reading and for the comment/book suggestion.

      I just got the book and I will be browsing it in my free time over the next few weeks, and look forward to doing so.

      And have you read any of the books that I listed? I wonder what your opinion is of those.

      Thanks again, Reza, for the suggestion and the comment 🙂 Kindest regards,

      John

      • Hello John,
        Thanks for taking up my suggestion, It would be interesting to hear your opinion, as I think that the book takes a unique pathway to understanding the dynamics of love that might not be to everyone’s taste. I have been meaning to read some the above books on your reading list, but have been reading so much online like your blogs, that Ive left off reading books. I feel I need to integrate the knowledge I have learnt now practically instead of reading more, but I think we need reminding now and again, so after a little while and if I ever get serious about another person, Ill pick up the books to remind me, and help me not fall into old patterns of engagement. Anyway thanks for your blog and looking forward to some discussions later on.
        Kind regards,
        Reza

        • John says:

          Hello Reza,

          Thanks for the comment 🙂

          Two of my favorite quotes on reading both come from Jim Rohn–that’s one of the people Tony Robbins looked up to and read a lot.

          The book you don’t read won’t help.”

          And

          It isn’t what the book costs; it’s what it will cost if you don’t read it.”

          That’s what I think in regards to “The Road Less Traveled” and “Passionate Marriage“–there is so much wisdom and profundity and food for thought in those books, much more than I find in reading blogs. Reading those books now–anyone reading those books now will be way ahead of the game next time they enter into a relationship–especially if they meet someone else who has read those books and given a lot of thought to them!

          I would love to see those books be as widely read and prattled on about as much “Hunger Games” or “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” or “Twilight” or “Fifty Shades of Grey” series of books. Talk about a revolution and quantum leap forward in the way people think about love and relationships! it would mark a significant step forward.

          But as it is most people are content to dissipate and drug themselves on best sellers. As Jim Rohn put it, “Some people claim that it is okay to read trashy novels because sometimes you can find something valuable in them. You can also find a crust of bread in a garbage can, if you search long enough, but there is a better way.”

          And

          Don’t just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it.”

          Wise words indeed. Perparation in life is important. Fortune favors both the bold as well as the prepared. There’s only trained and untrained, prepared and unprepared.

          Kindest regards, Reza,

          John

  2. delemares says:

    Good to see some of my favourites here – Scott Peck, CS Lewis, The 5 Love Languages – I’ll check out the ones I’m not familiar with

    • John says:

      Hello Delemares, thank you for reading and commenting.

      And you like Peck, Lewis, Chapman? Awesome!! I don’t cross paths with many people who do, so extra nice to meet you 🙂

      And my guess is that since you like Peck and Lewis and Chapman already, you’ll enjoy Fromm and Needleman, enjoy even more Krishnamurti, and get your mind blown by Schnarch!

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, Delemares, and happy reading! (and let me know what you think about the other books!)

      Kindest regards,

      John

      • delemares says:

        Hi
        I’m not familiar with the others but have just downloaded kindle samples of Schnarch and some others by Needleman (Love isn’t available and I’m trying to keep down the clutter by avoiding dead-tree books).
        Will let you know how I get on.
        Sandra
        (my username is a bit formal – not many delemares with my spelling – too many use SandraD)

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  4. M says:

    Hello,
    I need to get the “Road Less Travelled”. I agree with you 100% about Passionate Marriage, it has been a life changing book for me. About “5 Love Languages” as well. Are you aware of Steven Stosny’s work? You may find it interesting…
    Regards
    M

    • John says:

      Hello M,

      thank you for reading and commenting. I have not heard of Stosny before. Thank you for mentioning him and introducing me to his work.

      When I Googled him, the he first thing I read on him was this article—

      http://www.oprah.com/relationships/How-to-Improve-Your-Marriage-Without-Talking-About-It/1

      And these parts of the article really struck me—

      “When couples feel connected, men want to talk more and women need to talk less, so they meet somewhere in the middle.” – Steven Stosny

      To illustrate the point, Patricia Love tells the story of an afternoon when she and her husband were lying in bed naked after showering. “I was wondering if he’d initiate sex, when all of a sudden in my mind I crossed over to his side of the bed and got a sense of what it was like to be him, never knowing if he’s going to be accepted or rejected. It was terrifying. I understood then how deeply ashamed that must make him feel,” she recalls. “It was an epiphany that changed my life.” She immediately began emphasizing compassion in her work with clients, and has come to believe—as does Stosny—that it’s even more crucial to the success of a long-term relationship than love.

      “each partner makes a conscious effort to consider the other’s point of view”

      And here are my thoughts after reading the article—

      To me, “We need to talk” can often be a very self-indulgent and counter-productive thing for one person to say to their supposed “partner.” For one person to expect the other person—their supposed partner—to listen to them, cater to them, to make them happy, or to just sit their and listen and do and say nothing, is infantile and narcissistic. It’s immature, a me, me, me attitude/orientation. “We need to talk” is often code word for I’m not happy, and it’s your fault. And if I’m not happy, then you’re not going to be happy. If I’m not happy, then it’s your job to make me happy, or it’s your job just to sit there and listen to me.

      Instead of a person repeatedly saying something to the effect of “We need to talk” or expecting their partner to always listen to them, a nice and perhaps productive change of pace would be for that same person to try some of the time to see in what ways they could perhaps be a better partner to their spouse—be more genuinely loving, be less self-centered, give in a way that is meaningful to other person.

      And most of all, monitor themselves—have the commonsense and courtesy to double check themselves by seeing themselves and their actions and expectations from their partner’s perspective. It may just be eye-opening! (Who am I kidding—it likely will be incredibly VERY eye-opening!)

      The story Patricia Love tells in the article is great and so telling because it shows that for once (for the first time, apparently) she actually got outside of her own head and saw things (and perhaps even herself) from her partner’s perspective (whoda thunk it!)—and for her it was an epiphany, a big WOW experience. By telling, I mean, it’s as if she’s apparently never really done that before—seen things from another point of view than her own, seen things from her husband’s point of view, see herself and her actions and expectations from her husband’s perspective and how he experiences her.

      It’s a game changer. A life-changer. And it’s called growing up.

      Not being able to see oneself and one’s actions and tendencies from the other person’s point of view (from one’s partner’s point of view) is so damn toxic to a “relationship.” Think about that term and what it implies when it comes to a marriage or a supposed life-long union. A relationship is supposed to be something that is mutual and loving, full of consideration and care and understanding and compassion—not something that is childish and receptive and self-indulgent and me, me, me.

      Yet this is just how many (supposed adult) people go through life—childish, expecting to receive more than they give, acting self-centeredly, and most of all blind to themselves, blind to how they actually are, blind to how they show up to a relationship, blind to how they act in a relationship, blind to the effects that their choices and actions have on the relationship and their partner. (Yes, Pat, it would be a magnificent thing for you to take the initiative and do your man, go down on him without him having to ask or cajole you! Sheesh! I mean, really!? How can a marriage be a partnership or a relationship of equals when one person is always the initiator of sex??? Has Pat Love ever read “The Shipfitter’s Wife” by Dorianne Laux?) (http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2007/03/02)

      And I wouldn’t call what Love and Stosny are coming up with as “compassion,” it’s bigger than that and more basic than that. I’d call it a person getting their head out of their own ass therapy and recognizing that there’s actually another real live human being in the relationship with them. (What Schnarch refers to as level 5 or 6 “partner engagement” [pp. 247-251 of “Passionate Marriage”]) It’s about seeking first to understand rather than be understood. It’s about actually empathizing with the other person. It’s about actually caring about the other person. It’s about seeing oneself objectively, fairly, without the blinders, and not being blind or ignorant of oneself and how one actually is.

      And all of that is not just compassion, it’s love. Love. LOVE. The real true genuine stuff that I point to again and again through all of the posts on this site.

      And if Pat Love can have these moments of objectivity and empathy on a daily basis—sensing what it’s like for her husband when she’s around—and if vice versa—her husband can feel what things are like for Pat around him—then this should help to create an atmosphere of greater forgiveness, tolerance, kindness, humor, humanness, understanding, where the conversation will flow much more naturally, because instead of each person going on and on about themselves, their eyes will open; they will start talking about what the other person is actually feeling and experiencing—or what they think or suspect the other person is feeling and experiencing—and thus the narcissism and childishness in the relationship will dramatically decrease, and it will actually become more and more of a healthy and mature and genuinely loving relationship that the two people will be creating and participating in and enjoying.

      And in regards to the last part of the article—

      “Even when Hugh throws his sopping wet towel on the bed, forgets to put gas in the car, or stares into space when I try to tell him something that really matters to me?” I (Barbara Graham, the author of the O Magazine article) ask, only half joking.

      “If you give him positive reinforcement instead of criticizing him, he’ll start doing more of the things you want him to do,” Patricia Love says.

      The next night over dinner, I give it a whirl. “I love it when you put gas in the car and hang up your wet towel,” I say. He looks at me like I’ve gone off the deep end. “What’s up?” he asks suspiciously. “Why are you being so nice?”

      But a few days later when I’m distraught over a potentially scary mammogram report and he jumps in too quickly to reassure me that everything will turn out fine (it does), I decide to try out the binocular vision that Love and Stosny recommend. That’s when I see that Hugh feels like a failure because he wants to make things better and he can’t.

      So instead of my usual knee-jerk irritability at what I perceive as his lack of sensitivity, I say, “I’m terrified and I just need you to listen.” Which he does, patiently, lovingly. After I’ve finished reciting my laundry list of fears, he holds me close and neither of us says anything for a long time. We don’t need to.

      Wow. I think she missed the point of the article entirely. Give Hugh a break, lady. And get some frickin’ perspective, lady: On your deathbed, what’s really going to matter? That Hugh just listened? All of her self-indulgent childish demands and concerns—just dust in the wind. And don’t get me wrong—Hugh needs to man-up in the relationship, and not be a little boy, and pick up after himself. I mean, really?? leaving wet towels on the bed? leaving the car on near empty? Come on, Hugh, you can do much better than that. And it’s not that difficult. Don’t go through life a boy in a man’s body. Carry your own weight. Show some consideration. It’s the little things. The little things matter.

      I wonder how close of a brush with death Barbara and Hugh would need to get their respective heads out of their own asses and clue them in to what’s really important in life.

      . . . .

      And, M, as time permits, I will continue looking into Stosny’s work.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

      Kindest regards,

      John

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  6. Jaleb says:

    I’ve lately been reading some of the books you recommend here and I am planning on reading them all. ( I have now most of them in my library). I want to thank you: I stumbled upon your blog in a difficult period in my life when I really needed guidance and enlightenment, and your posts as well as these books have guided me toward a path of self-discovery, self-awareness and definitely growth.
    I would also like in return to recommend an other great book: Denis de Rougemont’s Love in the Western World ( L’Amour et L’Occident). I also noticed that you don’t mention any of Kierkegaard works in your recommended books despite the fact that you have mentioned him in some of your posts. Which one of his books has inspired tou the most. I currently have ” Purity of Heart…” and I plan to buy ” Works of Love”.
    Greetings from Norway.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I highly recommend “Why Talking is Not Enough” by Susan Page.

    It’s about nurturing spiritual partnership, and has changed my view on my role in relationship.

    Have you read it?

  8. Patti says:

    I have read several of the books on the list -Peck, Schnarch, Fromm, Williamson. I have read other books by Lewis, but I don’t think this one I am looking forward to reading more on this list.
    Thanks for posting. If you ever have an online book club, I’m in.

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