The best eclectic and surprising books to help you have better relationships

Andrew S. Trees Author Of Decoding Love: Why It Takes Twelve Frogs to Find a Prince, and Other Revelations from the Science of Attraction
By Andrew S. Trees

Who am I?

I lived in New York City for a number of years, and my female friends would constantly buy dating advice books and then complain about how bad these books were. One night at dinner, I suggested that there must be some legitimate scientifically-based advice that would actually be helpful, and I was laughed out of the room. Decoding Love was born in that moment. What I found overturned almost all of my preconceptions about dating and relationships. I hope it will overturn some of your preconceptions as well.


I wrote...

Decoding Love: Why It Takes Twelve Frogs to Find a Prince, and Other Revelations from the Science of Attraction

By Andrew S. Trees,

Book cover of Decoding Love: Why It Takes Twelve Frogs to Find a Prince, and Other Revelations from the Science of Attraction

What is my book about?

Relationships should be so simple. You meet someone. You fall in love. You live happily ever after. This "romantic storyline" has shaped our thinking about relationships for centuries. But the fairy tale is deeply flawed, and researchers today are making shocking discoveries about how and why we choose the people we love.

Drawing from the latest studies in economics, brain science, game theory, evolutionary psychology, and other fields, Decoding Love takes on a topic we all think we understand how we fall in love and illustrates that most of our assumptions are wrong. Along the way, Andrew Trees offers surprising new insights into the nature of attraction and desire, as well as an intimate look at the strange intersection of romance and the modern world of dating.

The books I picked & why

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Stumbling on Happiness

By Daniel Gilbert,

Book cover of Stumbling on Happiness

Why this book?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a great deal of our happiness in relationships depends on our own ability to be happy as individuals. Almost invariably, our instincts about what will make us happy are not particularly accurate. Gilbert's book is a great introduction to the mistakes we make about happiness and how to do it better. He does an excellent job of bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, and in exploring our foibles as we engage in that all-American pursuit, the pursuit of happiness. 


The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating

By David M. Buss,

Book cover of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating

Why this book?

Although we like to think that we are idiosyncratic individuals pursuing our perfect match, the truth is that evolution has hardwired into us many preferences and dislikes. This book is a really good introduction to the often surprising role evolution plays in shaping desire. Buss has undertaken a massive study of thousands of people and dozens of cultures to present a unified theory of human mating behavior. While I don't think we need to simply give in to evolution, it is an enormous help to have a sense of what role evolution plays.


The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert

By John Gottman, Nan Silver,

Book cover of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert

Why this book?

I am a huge fan of Gottman's work, and I would be happy to recommend any of his books. At his “love lab,” he has done a tremendous amount of rigorous scientific research over the past several decades about what makes relationships work and what makes them fail, and he has boiled all of that down into some very helpful lessons about what successful couples do and what they avoid.  There is no better place to start if you are looking to improve your relationship.


The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

By Barry Schwartz,

Book cover of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

Why this book?

Dating apps have now made partner selection into an unending series of choices. Although on the face of it this seems like a great development, in fact, research shows that adding more choice almost always ends up making us less happy. Along with virtually every other decision we make today, dating has become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choices we are presented with. Schwartz explains why too many choices are undermining our psychological and emotional well-being. And he has a few tricks up his sleeve on how to escape the tyranny of too much choice.


Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen,

Book cover of Pride and Prejudice

Why this book?

After a number of serious books based on scientific research, it’s important to remember that relationships are supposed to be fun! There is no wittier guide to the foibles of the mating dance than Jane Austen. Austen called this novel "her own darling child," and Elizabeth Bennet remains perhaps the world’s favorite romantic heroine. The sparkling repartee of her sparring and flirting with Mr. Darcy is a model for anyone who hopes to make an impression on a potential partner. Although set in Regency England, the book remains as relevant as ever. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in romantic love, decision making, and England?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Delicious, Private Arrangements, and The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work if you like this list.