Love is in the air — and on the pages of these books. If you’ve got that special, mushy feeling about love this Valentine’s Day then we’d like to recommend these reads for you to keep your heart warm and your hands full. Put down the box of chocolates/glass of champagne and pick one of these excellent reads up!
Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer
This love story, set in the late 1950s to early 1960s, is told through the fictional correspondence of two writers. Their letters take the reader through their meeting, the unlikely start of their romantic relationship and the terrifying mental break down one faces. The conclusion of their relationship will embraces Tennyson’s phrasing, “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” It’s heartbreaking in all the right ways.
Recommended if: you love Mad Men, but wish it were a little more romantic.
Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister
If you’re lucky, once in your lifetime you’ll find a love that trumps all odds. Film critic Violet Epps has mastered the art of wit on paper, her social anxiety provides all kinds of trouble on her journey to find love. It’s through her three great loves: an unassuming soon-to-be new boyfriend, long-deceased literary hero Dorothy Parker who comes to life right before her eyes, and her 13-year-old orphaned niece Delaney that Violet is able to find herself. Once she champions her fear of speaking up for herself all kinds of good things come her way. In this delightful tale Ellen Meister proves that often the best relationships begin with yourself.
Recommended if: You’re a fan of heartwarming love stories and always root for the underdog.
Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson
Plath’s life after marrying husband Ted Wilson, both what we remember through his curation of her work and what we think we know based on her mental illness and suicide, is a sad one. This book attempts to unearth her life and love affairs, which mostly go undocumented in other books about Plath’s life, before Wilson. Why is it a Valentine’s Day read? Because sometimes it turns out the most epic love in your life is love of self — if you don’t love you, how can anyone else, right? Accidentally or on purpose, this book strikes at the heart of what made Plath into the woman Wilson fell for.
Recommended if: Losing your one and only would literally destroy your life.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A classic love story that has inspired a hundred spin-offs: the tale of Elizabeth Bennet and William Fitzgerald Darcy is the template for most of your favorite romcoms. Girl meets boy, girl thinks she detests boy, awkwardness due to miscommunication and then the boy eventually gets the girl. And it doesn’t hurt that he woos her with his giant house. If you haven’t taken the time yet to read this beloved book, perhaps this year (on it’s 200th anniversary!) should be the year you finally do.
Recommended if: You’ve ever enjoyed a romantic comedy or any movie starring Colin Firth.
-Courtney E. Smith and Annie Reuter, Radio.com