Two Dozen Valentines
It's Valentine's Day; and whatever that means for you at the moment, you're probably finding yourself forced to think about love. The good news: whether you're happy or sad or bitter or wistful or just baffled about love, literature's got you covered.
We've asked library staff for their recommendations on what to read this time of year, and they've delivered. From sweeping epics to anxious ruminations, from heartwarming favourites to books to help you ugly cry after a breakup, here are two dozen books about our most perplexing emotion:
- The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
- Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
- Reader, I Married Him, edited by Tracy Chevalier
I recommend Nicole Krauss’ "The History of Love", a heartbreaking, stylistically brilliant and exquisitely written novel about the lifelong search for love. Told through multiple perspectives and voices (including that of a long-lost novel also called "The History of Love") and sweeping across time and geography, the book reveals the tangled histories of these characters, their memories and their unresolved and long-remembered loves.
If you are interested in reading the classics, you absolutely can’t go wrong with "Jane Eyre". I would also recommend a recent collection of stories from a fantastic group of female writers – including Tessa Hadley, Elif Shafak, Lionel Shriver and Audrey Niffenegger – called "Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre".
- So Sad Today: Personal Essays, by Melissa Broder
I love this book because of its modern, unconventional style and the great personal power of Broder's writing. She is willing to lay it all bare – to be completely honest – and she manages to do so while being very funny, insightful and astute at the same time. (Check out her short story, "Help Me Not Be A Human Being", to see what I mean). I'd say her work is ushering in a new era for the personal essay, a format I have always adored. I found her first through her poetry and her Twitter which is so brilliant: @sosadtoday
- I really like "My Brother's Husband", a recently published graphic novel by Gengoroh Tagame that looks at love and loss from a different and unique perspective.
- When Calls the Heart, by Janette Oke
- When Calls the Heart, directed by Michael Landon, Jr.
This western romance about a teacher from Hamilton who falls in love with a Mountie is now a popular TV series. It's heartwarming, moving and about as Canadian as it gets.
- Love Warrior: A Memoir, by Glennon Doyle Melton
Struggling with body image issues and bulimia as a teen, Glennon falls into a dark well of alcoholism for years. After "hitting rock bottom", she falls in love, marries, gets sober and has three children. Glennon recounts her path to self-discovery and recovery after the dissolution of her marriage when she finds that her husband has been cheating on her with multiple partners for years. A beautiful, deeply/darkly honest journey to self-love, Glennon writes clearly, generously and completely fearlessly. There is so much truth in this book. I recommend it to absolutely everyone.
- High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby
I've read "High Fidelity" probably five times – it's a great book about relationships from a male perspective (and particularly a male music fan's perspective). Here's a blog post with a playlist of love songs inspired by the book.
- It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History, by Jennifer Wright
If you like gossip and history, and you are going through a bad breakup, then this is the book for you. The Oscar Wilde chapter made me ugly cry.
- The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, by Louise Rennison
I simply loved this ten-part series of teen books by Louise Rennison. It starts with "Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging" and completes with "Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?" Over the course of the journey, we laugh, we cry and we cringe along with our heroine as she navigates the murky waters of teenage life and love. Who will she ultimately end up with? Robbie the sex god or Dave the Laugh or Massimo the Luuurve God? Read and find out!