Books to Read on Valentine’s Day

Whatever your relationship status — “it’s complicated,” partnered, or just pining for that Starbucks barista who gets your name wrong every time but smiles at you so right — I’ve scoured the romance section of your local bookstore and picked out the best books to read this V-Day. There are epic love stories for the old-school romantics, modern tales of finding romance~ in today’s hookup culture, and books about why it’s totally fine just to be single too, if your perfect partner (whether that’s for life or for the night) isn’t around.

Nathan Smith

Here are some recommended books in the Southfield Public Library catalog with commentary by the article’s writer. If you don’t see a copy available, contact a librarian to place an item on hold for you!

Wuthering Heights
Bronte, Emily
When Wuthering Heights was first published, people said it was a "vulgar" book, with a "lurid" romance at the center of its story between a wide-eyed heroine and her mysterious Heathcliff. That's Victorians for you. Today the book is a classic, best enjoyed by the old-school romantic to really savor the deep and magnetic attraction between Catherine and her gypsy beau — a romance as eternal as the rocks beneath the famous moors of Wuthering Heights.
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Waiting to Exhale
McMillan, Terry
If you need some good humor this Valentine's Day, definitely don't look past Terry McMillan's classic Waiting to Exhale. The novel follows three close friends searching for real love in an age of casual sex and cheating men, because we've all been there. Their trials and tribulations make for a juicy read, with the life lessons McMillan imparts including that you have to love yourself (first and foremost) and not go looking for love either — one day it may just come looking for you.
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Love in the Time of Cholera
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
A novel rich with passion and hot lust, Gabriel García Márquez's acclaimed Love in the Time of Cholera is about the myths we create about love, and their power over us. With a rich, enticing story stretching multiple decades at its center, Márquez shows us what keeps the romance going in times of loss. And, you know, cholera.
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Carol, or, The Price of Salt
Highsmith, Patricia
First published in the early 1950s, Highsmith's Carol broke boundaries by giving readers a beautiful, honest story about the power of love between two women. The story of a shop-clerk who falls madly for an unhappily married housewife, Carol is a thrilling and moving read that shows the lengths people will go to achieve happiness, and to be their most authentic selves.
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Eleanor & Park
Rowell, Rainbow
Set in 1986, Eleanor & Park is about what it's like to be young and madly in love. The story flips back and forth between both of the titular teens' point-of-views; the first person perspective leaves you desperately wanting their romance to flourish and beat the odds (there's always some odds) stacked against the cute pair. A moving read — definitely one that for the nostalgic type ready to reminisce over their high school crush.
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The Fault in Our Stars
Green, John
John Green can really do no wrong. With The Fault in Our Stars he gives us a moving story of romance between two teens battling terminal illnesses. The young lovers experience an angsty beautiful whirlwind romance, reaffirming to readers that the power of love can transcend everything, even death. A real tearjerker — from both laughter and sadness — this is a book that will give you hope that true love does really exist, even if it won't be with someone as perfect as Augustus Waters.
P.S. For a double whammy of feels, watch the movie after reading the book. ALL OF THE FEELS (and Ansel Elgort).

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Doctor Zhivago
Pasternak, Boris
Doctor Zhivago is an epic love story that transcends all things time and place. But be warned this is not for the faint-hearted — at nearly 600 (heavy) pages, Zhivago is a mammoth book telling the story of a Russian physician who falls madly for another man's wife. Their passionate and intense love affair takes place against the backdrop of WWI and the Russian Revolution, illustrating just how love is tested in times of war and civil instability.
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Love, Ten Poems
Neruda, Pablo
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is behind some of the most evocative and profound romantic poetry ever written. If you're someone who likes to bask in the power of ~wORdS~ to remind you of the wonder and true bliss love can bring, Neruda's elegant and beautiful prose is for you.
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The Time Traveler's Wife
Niffenegger, Audrey
The Time Traveler's Wife is a life-affirming love story that sees the limits of time and space completely melted away. Niffenegger writes about Henry and his unusual but compelling relationship with wife Clare, whom he first meets when he is 28 and she is 20. As Henry has the ability to travel back in time, though, he then meets Clare again when she is 6. And then he's back in the future, and so on — we thus see their beautiful but slightly unconventional relationship span decades, and as one that weathers all obstacles.
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Norwegian Wood
Murakami, Haruki
When Norwegian Wood was first published in Japan, it sold more than 4 million copies — that's roughly 5 percent of the population buying a copy, and with good reason. A haunting and evocative novel that shows the most unorthodox and fateful routes love can take us on Norwegian Wood is, like most of Murakami's books, framed by themes of death and loneliness. Even without a conventional "happy ending," it still offers as a powerful meditation on coming-of-age in today's often-unforgiving modern world.
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The Notebook
Sparks, Nicholas
Thanks to one greatest romance movies of the past decade, The Notebook really needs no introduction. If you're a bird, I'm a bird! Still, the story resonates on paper too — Nicholas Sparks's intimate and addictive story about the romance between Noah and Allie is one that really stands the test of time, offering not just a touching love story but a real experience about the limitlessness of love. You'll always come back to your OTP!
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The English Patient
Ondaatje, Michael
This Booker Prize-winning novel looks at the interlinked lives (and love lives) of four people at the end of WWII. At the center of this compelling story is that English Patient, a nameless and severely burned man who recounts his nurse with his life story, and about the one woman he loved so dearly but lost all the same. A work of great literature, The English Patient is one of the books that deserves to be read slowly and savoured. So take up a copy in the bathtub, with a tall glass of wine, and you'll never look back.
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Fifty Shades of Grey
James, E. L.
No Valentine's Day booklist would be complete without a nod to the infamous BDSM sexfest Fifty Shades of Grey. Whether you want escapism from a lackluster V-Day or some kinky tricks to mix things in the bedroom up with on this special day, turning to Fifty Shades for some bedtime reading is a must. Your inner goddess will thank you!
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The Bell Jar
Plath, Sylvia
And for those less bothered by frothy notions of love and romance, there's Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. Plath's iconic work is best enjoyed with a stiff drink, as it recounts one particular angst-ridden summer and the pains of living in a world shaped by false pretences and unrealistic expectations for young women. Sometimes you need to tell romance, no thanks, not right now.
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