Looking for the perfect Valentine’s date? Believe it or not, you might find him or her on your bookshelf.
There’s no need to feel lonely when you have everyone from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Anne Sexton to keep you company. Here are our picks for this year’s romantic reads for Valentine’s Day. Read them with someone you love or be transported all by yourself.
For the Historical Valentine…
What could be more fascinating than a glimpse into the private romantic lives of some of history’s most famous figures? Love Letters of Great Men & Women From The Eighteenth Century To The Present Day provides just that, giving the reader access to the most intimate details of dozens of celebrated romances.
From Winston Churchill to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the text includes letters from a diverse group of individuals throughout history. While some may know the collection from Carrie Bradshaw in Sex In The City, this edition differs with its inclusion of letters from both men and women, an important addition that greatly enhances the collection.
Some selections are obvious, such as John Keats and Charlotte Brontë. Others are political figures like Napoleon Bonaparte and Mary Wollstonecraft. Use this book to glimpse into another era, when writing was a laborious act that required time and dedication to perfect. Maybe it will inspire a romantic email to commemorate the holiday?
For the Poetic Valentine…
Love poems get a bad rap. They sound like something a teenager doodles on a math notebook while pining for a love that will be forgotten next week. But love poems themselves are not the problem, and our teenage scribbling’s are no match for Anne Sexton.
When written in her hand, the love poem ascends to its ideal form. “Oh my swan, my drudge, my dear wooly rose / even a notary would notarize our bed / as you knead me and I rise like bread,” she writes in an excerpt from Love Poems. Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to break out this collection and rediscover the romance of a well-written poem.
For the Adventurous Valentine…
In the 21st century world of startups, social media, and technology overload, traditional romance novels with bodice-ripping farm boys and swashbuckling pirates could not feel more outdated. Enter Badlands Unlimited, an independent publisher intent on filling this void with its latest series of erotic fiction that incorporates contemporary technology in the age of instant communication. The series will explore how the classic sensual narrative can continue to be interesting for modern readers.
The fourth book in the series, My Wet Hot Drone Summer by Lex Brown, a surprising and literary addition to a typically lowbrow genre, will take readers on an unforgettable road trip across America. Set in the near future, the novel tells the story of Mia Garner, a young woman who accompanies her computer programmer stepbrother to deliver his latest creation to a mysterious CEO. Complete with sex robots, plenty of drones, and an action-packed story, My Wet Hot Drone Summer is a deliciously sensual answer to the question of 21st century erotica.
For the Obsessive Valentine…
We’ve all had that one love that got away, a crush that’s impossible to get over, stuck in your head like gum on a sidewalk. For experimental author Chris Kraus, that love is Dick, a filmmaker friend she reconnects with at dinner one night.
While most of us suffer in silence or via excessive texting with friends, Kraus turns her obsession into an art project – I Love Dick – specifically a confessional memoir composed of letters written but never sent to the object of her affection. The plot gets more complicated when Kraus brings her partner Sylvère into the game, and the couple begins writing to Dick together.
What makes the work truly unique is Kraus’ commitment to total candor. All of the names, places, and events in the book are real. The seminal work of “confessional fiction” interweaves gossipy details of Kraus’ personal life, referencing close friends and famous intellectuals with the intimacy of a diary entry or therapy session. Caught up in the drama of unrequited love, a scandalous affair, and literary lust, readers will be unable to put this book down without following it to its ultimate conclusion.
For the Flirtatious Valentine…
Not all love stories come in long form. Take for example, Erotic Stories from Everyman’s Pocket Classics, a collection of short tales from a variety of well-known authors.
Just as Valentine’s Day brightens the dreary month of February, this book can add spice to a sullen subway ride or lonely lunch hour. Indulge in fantasy with this fun and flirty collection, which includes work from authors such as Chekhov, Edith Wharton, and Guy de Maupassant. Stories range from Greek Myths to a scene from the classic novel Dangerous Liaisons, all focusing on the experience of sublime lust.
For the Classic Valentine…
No list of romantic novels would be complete without Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë’s renowned tale of forbidden love set in the moors of Northern England. When Catherine’s father brings home the orphaned Heathcliff, the two are destined to become the best of friends. As they grow older and friendship turns to love, the chasm of class comes between them, and before long the lovers are separated forever.
Despite being written in 1845, the novel’s themes are timeless: unrequited longing, the pain of loss, and the desire of every soul to find its mate. It’s impossible not to be drawn into riveting world Brontë creates, as Catherine, Heathcliff and their families struggle daily in the harsh climate of the moors. Emotions run high in this passionate tale, and lovers of all ages will be engrossed with the story.
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