We have an extremely varied set of recommendations for books on family and relationships. Deborah Levy looks at motherhood in literature and Amy Chua at being a mother, while Kyle Pruett, professor of child psychology at Yale University, chooses his best books on fatherhood. The historian Nancy Goldstone chooses five memoirs about daughters, from the Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre in the 16th century to titles of the present day. Tim Lott looks at brothers, choosing both Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Atomised by Michel Houellebecq.
Mona Simpson discusses family stories and Jonathan Rauch looks at marriage, extolling its importance as an institution, not just for the individuals within the relationship, but for society—and for people of all sexual orientations. Kate Figes chooses her best books on sex and marriage. She points to research suggesting that middle aged sex is the best of people’s lives and recommends books as diverse as The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
Evan Zimroth chooses his best books on adultery and Katie Kitamura chooses her best books on marriage and divorce in literature. Ella Berthoud recommends novels on love and relationships. As a bibliotherapist, recommending books as a form of therapy for a living, she is highly qualified to make her recommendations. Meanwhile, author and therapist Mira Kirshenbaum looks at relationship therapy. She argues that at any given moment, the average person’s understanding of relationships is about 100 years behind the times. In any relationship between two people the relationship itself needs to be seen as a third, vital force, independent of the individuals who are living it.
Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but what happens when the horses are spooked and the whole procession is run off the road? Katie Kitamura, whose new novel A Separation charts the disastrous—and tragic—failure of a marriage, considers some of literature’s most heartfelt accounts of relationship failure
Systems thinking is key to figuring out how relationships work, says Mira Kirshenbaum, psychotherapist and clinical director of the Chestnut Hill Institute. She chooses the best books to help us understand modern relationship therapy.
Aristotle tells us that all politics starts in the family, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the infamously fraught relationship between mother and daughter. Here, the novelist, playwright and poet Deborah Levy chooses five books – or rather, four books and one film – that explore motherhood.
The Memoirs Of Marguerite De Valois
by Marguerite De Valois
Why Not Say What Happened?: A Memoir
by Ivana Lowell
Casting with a Fragile Thread: A Story of Sisters and Africa
by Wendy Kann
The Mighty Queens of Freeville
by Amy Dickinson
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
In her book The Rival Queens, historian Nancy Goldstone explored the destructive relationship between Marguerite de Valois and her mother Catherine de’ Medici. Here she chooses five different memoirs that best explore the emotionally complex dynamics that characterise mother-daughter relationships.
Novelist Tim Lott, whose autobiographical book Under the Same Stars lays bare a dysfunctional relationship with his brother, tells us about love and rivalry among siblings – and, from Cain and Abel on, the dark, even murderous, impulses that can be engendered between them.
As a young Dutch Jewish girl, Johanna Reiss survived World War II hidden in the attic of a farmer called Johan Oosterveld. Her memoir of that time, The Upstairs Room, is still read in schools today. But while she was researching that book in 1969, her American husband, Jim, killed himself. In this interview, she recommends books on the painful subject of suicide, as well as the music that helped heal the pain.
Mary Poppins [DVD]
by Robert Stevens
Dancer from the Dance
by Andrew Holleran
And the Band Played on
by Randy Shilts
What's Happening to the American Family?
by Professor Frank Gallo, Professor Richard Belous & Professor Sara A. Levitan
The Case for Marriage
by Linda J. Waite, Maggie Gallagher