By Maisie Scott, Aileen Loftus and banamustafa
Valentine’s day is the perfect time to read a new book. Valentine’s or Galentine’s day 2021 will soon be upon us, so we’ve decided to share our top reads for this year’s celebrations.
The day is essentially a capitalist holiday. However, it can also be a good time to eat loads of chocolate and enjoy a romance or anti-romance story. Find your perfect (book) match by taking a look at our recommendations below.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Rooney’s novel is all about best friends Frances and Bobbi as they tackle relationships, identity and poetry. Conversations with Friends makes the perfect Galentine’s day read, as Sally Rooney portrays a wonderfully accurate version of modern love and the complexities of friendship. I’d recommend this book for anyone who fell in love with Normal People.
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
Days Without End is a love story, but it is also (at risk of sounding cliche) a lot more than that. After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and John Cole go on to fight in the Indian wars and the Civil War. They witness, and are complicit in, violent atrocities, but there are beautiful moments of respite and glimmers of hope as the novel explores gender fluidity and the redefinition of family.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Candice Carty-Williams’ debut novel follows the experiences of Queenie Jenkies as she navigates London life following her recent breakup. The novel is aptly described as ‘Bridget Jones meets Americanah’ on Goodreads. Queenie is not a traditional love story because it actually documents the deterioration of the protagonist’s long-term relationship. The novel features honest discussions about sex and contraception which I really rated.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
Call Me By Your Name is the story of a blissful summer romance which cuts deep. Elio and Oliver share some dreamy moments together in Elio’s family’s house somewhere on the Italian riviera. However, the relationship is intense but fleeting. Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful yet tragic love story which is guaranteed to make you cry. Above all, Elio’s father’s speech continues to live in my head rent free. His words are one of my favourite monologues of all time. But, if you don’t have time to read the novel I would recommend watching the film this Valentine’s.
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Dolly Alderton’s memoir is a comforting read which documents the highs and lows of dating, relationships and friendships. The primary form of love Alderton is concerned with is the platonic love shared between friends. I loved this aspect of the book and I couldn’t get enough of it because friendship is so key to how we navigate life.
Ordinary People by Diana Jones
Ordinary People is set in South London in 2008. The novel follows the intertwined lives of two couples and their complicated entanglements. Ordinary People documents the turbulent, difficult and stressful aspects of modern relationships. Jones’ novel navigates marriage and parenthood as well as presenting the reality of how the couples fall in love, and how they fall out of it.
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Giovanni’s Room is a classic in LGBTQIA+ literature. It is deeply haunting love story between two men — an American and an Italian — living in Paris. I found this to be a very quick, immersive (yet harrowing) read that is loaded with themes that pertain to love, queerness, and identity.
Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
If you are craving a sweet, yet painful book for this Valentine’s season, this one’s for you! Sheffield wrote this memoir as an ode to his departed wife, Renee. I typically find romance books to be too sappy for my liking, but this one is a very lovely, realistic take on a very human love shared between two people and their love for music. Rob and Renee shared an equal, obsessive passion for music. Rob and Renee constantly made mixtapes for one another, which are all generously included in the book. If not for the story, read this for the music recommendations, because they are excellent.
We wish everyone a very happy Valentine’s or Galentine’s day. Most importantly, this holiday is as good an excuse as any to treat yourself to some new books.
If you’re looking for further ideas check out our ‘Six book recommendations to get you through lockdown’.
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