If, like me, you’ve never found yourself with a significant other on February 14th, you’ve probably saved yourself a lot of money over the years. You’ve probably also had a lot of wildly varying feelings about Valentine’s Day. Or maybe not, maybe you’re cool and calm and collected and utterly unfazed by little things like relationships and overly commercialized holidays.
But if you do find yourself alone and at least a little bit lonely as Valentine’s Day approaches yet again, fear not! Drawing on my years of experience as a single book-looking gal, here is a list of excellent and emotionally-charged reads to get you through the worst of the season of hearts and roses. These are all personal favourites of mine, and this isn’t a particularly critical list- I don’t like hierarchy, so this won’t be ranked, but it will be enthusiastic. People in relationships will probably enjoy them too. Books are for everyone, and that’s the spirit we should be sharing at this time of year- love, connectivity, emotional responses to artistic endeavours, and the power of the written word.
The charming and inspirational story of a 29-year old woman (or self-professed spinster) who decides to speak up for herself for the first time in her life, defies her family, proposes to a reputed scoundrel, moves to a cabin in the Muskokas, and eventually finds her happiness. Oh, there’s also some drama of the I-only-have-a-year-to-live variety. It’s funny and sweet and utterly satisfying.
If you’re feeling a little bit bitter or jaded, I recommend The Calligrapher by Edward Docx.
It’s your typical boy-meets-girl story, except that the boy is a rather callous playboy who spends too much time analyzing the poetry of John Donne instead of working on his emotional development, and the girl is maybe a bit too perfect to be real, and it’s witty and snarky and generally leaves one feeling that love might just not be worth the trouble it causes.
If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic and want to relive those memories of first love, pick up Aristotle and Dante Discover theSecrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
One of the most beautiful and moving stories I’ve ever read, this is the slow-burn tale of two teenage boys who meet, become friends, and eventually, come to understand that their bond is profound and singular and utterly romantic. The characters are vivid and relatable, the writing is gorgeous, and if this book does not give you all the *feels* then I don’t know what would.
If Valentine’s Day leads you to become deep and philosophical and ask yourself what love really is, check out The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan.
Told through a series of dictionary-style entries, this clever and creative little book takes you through the ups -and-downs of a relationship. Non-linear, with unnamed characters, it may seems experimental, but it’s also devastatingly emotional, occasionally sad, and quite frequently amusing. It’s also one of the best explorations of what it really means to love and be loved that I’ve ever encountered.
If you’ve had it with the mushy stuff altogether, try L. Marie Adeline’s S.E.C.R.E.T. for something a little steamier.
The author has described the book as “feminist erotica,” and that’s a pretty accurate summary. The absolutely ludicrous premise is that a group of sexual fairy godmothers in New Orleans help women get back in touch with their sexuality through a ten-step process of fantasy fulfilment that leads to overall improvements in happiness and self-esteem. It’s silly and breezy and hot and empowering and has two sequels for your reading pleasure.
Valentine’s Day can be great if it’s about spending time with people that you love, whether that’s friends, family, or a partner. But people can be exhausting, so hopefully this list has provided you with some alternative ways to spend the 14th, or any other day of the year.