8 Books to Read for a More Romantic Valentine’s Day
Get some chocolate, open up some wine, and read up.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
The days leading up to and surrounding Valentine’s Day are the perfect time to snuggle up with your special someone and a good book or two. Just Kids by the trailblazing rocker Patti Smith, is a perfect Valentine’s Day read, according to Elizabeth Lane, founder of Quarterlane, a seasonal delivery box of literary and artistic finds. “In this lyrical memoir, Patti Smith recounts her youthful romance with Robert Mapplethorpe and their lives as young artists in 1960s downtown New York,” Lane says. “The book serves as a beautiful love letter to not only a person, but to a distinct time and place,” she says. Smith is known for her seminal album, Horses, with its cutting-edge lyrics; Just Kids is her first work of prose. (Get our free Valentine’s Day guide packed with dozens of quick tips and sweet ideas for an amazing V-Day celebration.)
Delta of Venus: Erotica by Anais Nin
This compendium of erotic short stories, written by a master storyteller, is highly imaginative and intelligently written. Each story weaves an intricate tale of complex characters told in unblushing style. Set against the backdrop of Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, each story transports the reader back in time, spinning sensual tales, while slowly setting the stage for a world on the brink of catastrophe. Written decades ago, Delta of Venus remains one of the best erotic novels ever penned, and is seductive prose at its best.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
This book of 10 letters, written by a brilliant German poet to a young, hopeful writer, are lilting and inspirational in tone. “Rilke is my go-to for opening new conversations around ‘what we talk about when we talk about love,’ to borrow Raymond Carver’s short story of the same name,” Lane says. In chapter seven of Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke takes on the subject of love—specifically what love is, and what isn’t. “This letter is a stunning examination of that which we hold so dear, yet so often let sit in the background. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to spotlight, consider, and crack open love, with Rilke by your side,” says Lane. If you’re looking for the best gifts for book lovers, this gently penned collection of letters should be at the top of your list. Fans of poetry will love these works on love, loss, and the meaning of life.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Even if you’ve laughed, cried, and oh-my’ed at the movie version of this iconic love story countless times, you’ll still adore reading the achingly romantic book aloud with your forever love. The passionate story of an enduring relationship, The Notebook tenderly recounts the lifelong love story of Noah and Allie. Narrated by Noah in flashback, the book weaves a rich story of love found, lost, and found again, with a very poignant, all-too-human ending.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Anyone who thrilled to Bridget Jones’ and Mark Darcy’s infamous first meeting in the popular movie, Bridget Jones’s Diary, will adore reading this wacky romantic book of the same name. “I loved this book when it first came out, and my original copy has been a reliable friend for two decades,” Lane says. “With the character of Bridget Jones, Fielding created a new kind of heroine—one who is relatable, hilarious, so very charming in her imperfections, and forever relevant. Bridget as a friend is worth revisiting, time and time again. Diving into her ups and downs as a single woman never gets old. And to know that Mark Darcy is waiting for her at the end? Well, that can easily put anyone in the loving mood,” says Lane. Read how 28 real-life couples knew they’d finally found “the one.”
Emma by Jane Austen
Gifts for book lovers abound, but Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Emma, continues to stand above the rest. (Here are some other Valentine’s Day gifts your sweetie will enjoy). For Lane, no love list is complete without this charming story about a young matchmaker who does not believe that she, herself, will ever find (or need) love. “In Emma, Austen beautifully reminds us that in order to see a truth that is right in front of us, we often have to step back for the larger view,” she explains.
Felicity by Mary Oliver
“In those times that I cuddle up and read aloud with my Valentine, it’s always poetry,” explains Lane, who highly recommends Felicity, a collection of poems by Mary Oliver. Filled with happiness and hope, Felicity is bound to inspire, giving love wings, and filling the reader with optimism.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
What’s a great compendium of Valentine’s Day books without a tear jerker or two? The Fault in Our Stars tells the deeply emotional tale of Hazel and Augustus, two young lovers who both have cancer. Their story is poignant, heartbreaking, funny, and anything but predictable. An ambitious novel by an award-winning author, this insightful book about young love is a powerful must-read. Check out these small-press gems you’ll want to discover if you haven’t already.