Valentine’s Day can either be a day you look forward to or a day you’re dreading. Happy couples plan a day of romance while singles may begrudge those couples, and unhappy or long-term relationships are struggling to find the romance again.
I think Valentine’s Day should be an opportunity for everyone to find love in life, whether it’s with a significant other or even just with themselves.
Here are my suggested reading lists for the romantic, long-time couples, and struggling singles.
Books to Fall In-Love with Love
I realize both of my suggested romances below are by the same author. That may be because I’ve become slightly obsessed with Sally Thorne’s perfect combination of drool-worthy love interests with irresistible personalities that create sparks between couples nearly igniting the pages of the book (good thing I listened to these on audio). But, isn’t that what love is all about? Obsession with another human being? And, that is exactly what is exuded from both of these novels – infatuations that are so strong the characters are physically reacting to the mere thought of their love interests.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – There’s a reason we say there’s a fine line between love and hate. Both ignite such strong emotions of passion that little else in life can exude. In the case of Lucy and Joshua, their feelings of hate become so strong that it starts to confuse both of them into what their real feelings are for each other. Why should anyone care so deeply about the actions of someone they dislike, unless those feelings mean something more than just hate?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this book is understanding that underlying relation of love and hate. Thorne describes the feelings so well and so similarly that it feels so obvious that these feelings are so closely knit together, creating a confusing a blanket of emotions that envelope our entire bodies, minds, and souls.
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne- Darcy Bennett is a cynical, hard-butt who doesn’t trust any many and doesn’t want anything to do with love… or so she seems. As we get to know Darcy, we learn that she actually does have a weakness for men – one man in fact. The one man who is her complete opposite – sweet, innocent, physically strong.
As we all know the laws of opposites, it’s intriguing to watch these two magnets react to each other – pulling and pushing apart, not entirely connecting, creating an electric charge that is too intriguing to stop reading.
I love short stories. When done right, they can pack the same punch as a full-length novel. Sometimes we are short on that stuff that pushes the seconds, minutes, and hours around the clocks on the walls. But, when you need that quick fix, short stories are the snack to satisfy that reading craving.
Candy Store by Bella Andre – I’ve never read a book that jumps into the hot tub as quickly as this one. I was almost burned from the shock of it! If you’re craving romance, this will satisfy those craving almost instantly. The attraction is immediate as Callie and Toby embark on a sweet romance that is mostly all physical, enjoying the sensual pleasures that so sweetly mix into their candy businesses. Instead of the typical build-up to a climactic scene, this story delivers almost immediately.
Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely- It is a love story for the modern age. Kristen is sick of being set up with guys who don’t share her same interests. If only she could fill out a form with all her preferences and have an algorithm select her ideal candidates. The story is as short and sweet as a chocolate from a heart-shaped box. Kristen discovers that it’s not really how a couple meets, but whether they have that sparkling connection when they do. I enjoyed this 2 hour audible, performed by two distinct voices that helped characterize their personalities.
Romance doesn’t always have to be gushy or steamy. For those whose experience in relationships consist of many years or maybe even kids, I think these particular books offer a more realistic feeling to romance. These aren’t to say that romance is dead, but it does evolve into something different with different goals and motivations that don’t rely entirely on passion.
Two By Two by Nicholas Spark- Russell Green’s marriage is on the rocks and his job situation is no better. With a change in his career and relationship with his distancing wife, suddenly he has more responsibility with his six-year-old daughter than ever before.
What I find so sweet about this book is the focus on the father-daughter relationship. Yes, there is also a budding romance for Russell that gives the story hope for a happy resolution, but the incorporation of a child’s best interests keeps this book grounded and more relatable as most of us parents can’t put our own agendas for romance first.
Atomic Marriage by Curtis Sittenfeld- A short, audible story with a gritty initial outlook on marriage that develops into a more hopeful outcome. Brock Lewis is a second-time married man who has written a highly popular novel that describes the downfalls of marriage and techniques to keep those marriages alive. Heather Thiesen’s own marriage is a perfect candidate in need of Brock’s repairing advice, if only she could believe his words of wisdom. As Heather attempts to work out details for turning Brock’s book into a filmed romantic comedy, peaking into Brock’s personal life reveals a not-so-perfect marriage of his own, as well as other questionable behaviors that leave Heather feeling even more doubtful of this writer’s authenticity.
Diane Lane’s deep and subtle rasp of a voice added to the nuance of the theme in this book. Despite some of its more disappointing decipherings of the human character, the story opened up the possibility of taking different perspectives on marriage and having hope in a relationship.
If you are at a point in your life where all you really need is to find ourselves, to rediscover your love of life and become a happier person. The last thing you may want is to read a sappy story of romance that feels unattainable.
Both of my suggestions below have been turned into films, but as most readers will attest – the book is often better. I did enjoy these movie adaptations, but I didn’t experience the same eye-opening, soul discovering, aha moments that I had when I actually read the books. Some things cannot be rushed. Learning to love life and yourself are such lessons.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed – Although I have read many reviews that criticize this memoir of a novel, I like considering the struggles of this woman and try to relate them to my own on a much smaller scale. If the reader looks at the story as a sort of metaphor, some of the details may not be as extreme.
Strayed is so devastated that she begins living a life that is near-suicidal – uncaring whether the drugs, sleeping around, and wilderness she puts herself in will eventually end her life or not. Her journey of anguish and discovery allows her to heal her wounds, forgive herself, and learn to respect herself again.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert- If ever there was a book that focused on a person’s well-being and overall happiness, this is it. While there are so many facets that make up a person’s happiness, I couldn’t help agreeing that a person’s overall joy can be boiled down into three main ingredients: physical pleasure, spiritual wellness, and matters of the heart.
It’s hard to add to what everyone else has already reviewed on this book (I’m entering the conversation late), but I still want to add my two cents. The book made me hungry.
Hungry to enjoy my life with every experience, each surrounding, and every meal in front of me. Hungry for a more spiritual understanding, to understand my purpose in life and to live serving others less fortunate, something greater than myself. Hungry for the romance in the buds of young love, eager to reignite the passion in my own loving relationship. The book is a reminder that life is meant to be lived to its fullest, and there are so many ways to enjoy that life if we are open to look.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day invites so many different feelings from people. My list is meant to reflect the varying emotions and perspectives on this day of love.
Let me know if any of these books spark your interest, or if you’ve read any of them and have a different or similar opinion.
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