I won't regret going to bed with any of you
9 book Valentines for every mood
The other day, aimlessly scrolling through Twitter as I often do, I stumbled upon a 280-character epiphany by a fellow reader-who-couldn’t-be (you’ll know what I mean soon) that made me feel like someone had cut up the insides of my brain to take a look at my murky thoughts.
I'm one of those people who could read like 600 pages in a day as a kid but can't read anything for pleasure as an adult and I've come to the conclusion that Books Just Suck Now cuz I'm burning through these
— Jove, e-god (@jovial_thunder) June 4, 2021
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think books could ever really suck but in a world obsessed with binge-watching and OTT, I’m sad to accept that I, too, have gone from being the kid who would read entire books in one sitting to being an adult who is now a mere acquaintance of the written word.
I still remember the first book I ever read — it was a Nancy Drew. Drew’s world was so fascinating to my 11-year-old mind, it took no time for me to become obsessed with it. I devoured all the Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys and The Famous Fives in my school library. I’d just pick up a book and dive headfirst into a world different than my own if I ever needed an escape. Finding pieces of myself reflected in the characters inhabiting these books became my favourite pastime. They were my companions when I was lonely, my guide into a world full of potholes, my friends and even my first true love.
This Valentine’s Day, what better way to pay homage to our first loves than spending the day with them, our book Valentine if you will. Whether you’re a beacon of singlehood or you believe love is a social construct, or you’re someone whose partner has forgotten V-day for the fifth year in a row, we have you covered with this list of books to suit whatever mood you’re in. No matter your feelings about love, your book Valentine will keep you company because books aren’t interested in your relationship status. They simply understand. And even if you aren’t feeling the love this year, don’t worry: all the chocolates are half-price and God knows our desi souls can never shy away from a good discount.
A book Valentine for all your V-day moods
If you’re dreaming of your own second-chance romance with a long-lost love
The Yard by Aliyyah Eniath
You know, how there are some books that stay with you for weeks, nay months after you’ve read them? The Yard is one. Written by Aliyyah Eniath and set in Trinidad, the book is a tragic narrative of love, family responsibilities and redemption that reveals fault lines within a community.
The Yard is a heartfelt and poignant story of love about a boy and a girl who forge an unusual bond. Maya, a girl from a huge, extended Muslim family who has yet to figure out where she belongs, meets Behrooz, a kid with no recollection of his history or family. But more than being a second-chance love story of the two main protagonists, it’s a saga about the families that live in the namesake yard. This book will break your heart but you’ll love it for that, I promise.
If you’re a beacon of singlehood on the day of love
How to Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson
A humorous collection of philosophical musings on love by the New Yorker and Onion writer and comedian Blythe Roberson, this will make you laugh like a hyena this Valentine’s Day as you read her scorching views on modern dating and 1990s rom-coms.
Roberson captures the general angst about dating and finding “the one” beautifully. Her book is a hilarious read that will have you giggling, dreading the future, and feeling very very seen in a matter of pages.
This is the perfect book Valentine for you if you are a female-identified person who has dated, is dating, or wants to date men. Even if you’re none of those things, there’s undoubtedly something here for you.
If your partner always ends up forgetting about Valentine’s Day
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
You know it’s time to pick up a feel-good, sigh-inducing read that will double as your book Valentine and leave you with a smile on your face and warm fuzzies in your heart. The Geography of You and Me is just that and so much more.
Lucy and Owen keep in touch as they travel the world after an unexpected encounter in a Manhattan elevator. Whether they’re in Scotland, Prague, or Portland, they find that distance doesn’t matter when it comes to their feelings for one another. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith follows the couple through the years and across continents.
We hope this book will fill you with a newfound love for your partner because after all, absence makes the heart grow fonder, does it not?
If you’re obsessed with dreaming up your own historical romance
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
Are you counting done the days till the next season of Bridgerton drops on Netflix? Do you often find yourself cooking up a romance with the Duke in the middle of the day when you should actually be sending that email to your boss? If you answered yes, Bringing Down the Duke will prove to be the dreamiest book Valentine for you.
Set in Victorian England during the Suffragette movement, the book contains equal proportions of hilarious moments and deep emotional sequences, amidst a delicious slow burn romance brewing between the two stubborn protagonists who are simply perfect for each other even if it’s kind of impossible for them to be together.
What better way to spend the day as you’re courted by a Duke from Victorian England?
If a string of dead-end dates has put you in the mood for blood
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
When you’ve been trying your hand at online dating, only to be left with a string of dead-end dates and a bad taste in your mouth, your thirst for blood can swell unattended by indulging in The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh.
The book, which was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, is a dystopian feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters, living on a remote island, taught to fear men. But read between the lines and you’ll see that this narrative closely mirrors the reality of many girls and women.
The Water Cure is a disturbing but fascinating debut novel about the propensity for violence and the power of feminine desire that both devastates and astonishes as it reflects our own reality back at us.
If you’re tired of binge-watching romcoms
Life and Other Shortcomings by Corie Adjmi
How many rom-coms can you binge-watch before you want to tear your hair out from the collective happy-go-luckiness of the genre when your life is anything but that? Change things up with Life and Other Shortcomings by Corie Adjmi, which will soon become your go-to book Valentine.
Life and Other Shortcomings is “the one” you’ve been waiting for: poignant, hilarious and unsettling all at once. As soon as you turn the last page of this anthology, you’ll be missing the emotionally driven, empathetic, and true-to-life characters.
Adjmi’s stories weave together beautifully but also exist on their own to create a layered and hidden emotional and psychological depth. And I especially loved them as they are full of dynamic characters in which you can’t help but find yourself or someone you know.
If you believe love is a social construct
All About Love by Bell Hooks
Reading this book felt like a brain hug, it made me smarter as it took me in its embrace but it was a hug all the same. A warm affirmation that love is attainable, the book is, as the title says, all about love, from intimate, spiritual, and intellectual perspectives. The author’s opinions on many elements of love, from friendship to romance, forgiveness, and the divine, are presented in each chapter.
When it comes to love, we often stay silent, preferring the comfort of being ambiguous and claiming that love can simply be sensed, even if not expressed. Hooks’ words will force you to consider how your notions about love might be failing you.
If you’re more of a Galentine’s gal
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
If you’re a prescriber of Samantha Jones’s “Men, babies, it doesn’t matter…we’re soulmates” philosophy, you’ll love Swing Time by Zadie Smith.
Despite how it may appear at times, romantic love is not the only type of legendary love story. This is a story of platonic love as exquisite and complicated as any romantic one. The breadth of this novel is vast, but at its heart is a friendship between two young women who aspire to be dancers; what pulls them together and what separates them.
If you have a date with a certain rabbit-shaped toy
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Yes, we’re aware the title of this book by Singaporean-Indian novelist Balli Kaur Jaswal doesn’t make it seem like a good candidate for your date but we assure you it is. Lest you think this is all one big bodice-ripping read, there’s more than eroticism here, as the author delves into themes of identity, patriarchy, brainwashing, and cultural mores.
The title drew me in, but it was the journey of these widows’ inner lives that I was utterly enthralled by. What starts out as a women’s reading class turns into a study of sexual interactions and desires, and the author does an excellent job of integrating their erotic stories into the narrative. It’s funny at times (you’ll never look at ghee the same way again), but it’s also moving and erotically thought-provoking.