Are you alone this Valentine's Day? Well, if you have time to read, you can explore these books that cover the many different kinds of love and romance. Whatever mood you're in on V-Day, these books will satisfy all your reading desires.
Both likely and unlikely, Me Before You introduces two very different people grappling with crossroads in their lives. Jojo Moyes’ exploration of love and self-discovery is both touching and romantic.
Nothing signals domesticity like a cozy meal. Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner: A Love Story serves up simple and delicious recipes, like Pomegranate Pork Loin with Cabbage, that will make you want to stay in.
Even though Austen mania has subsided somewhat, residual aftershocks can still be felt. John Mullan begs the question further in What Matters in Jane Austen? and answers quite satisfactorily.
One of the kingpins of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard left an indelible mark on moviegoers with such iconic films such as Breathless. Daniel Morgan successfully argues that the director’s influence continued through the early nineties in Late Godard and the Possibilities of Cinema.
Those with a nose for social justice will consume A People’s Guide to Los Angeles with relish. This exploration into alternative tourist sites explores often ignored, yet historically significant places, like the proposed prison in East Los Angeles.
The line between commitment and insanity comes dangerously close to getting crossed in Eric Greitens’ The Heart and the Fist. This true tale of a man so committed to helping refugees that he joins the Navy SEALs can’t help but inspire you to make something more of your life.
Oliver Sacks’ Hallucinations delves masterfully into the alluring world of mental tricks and illicit drugs. This book combines hard facts with personal experiences and meticulous research.
Another trip down the rabbit hole, Susannah Cahalan’s fall into madness is riveting. Brain on Fire, a memoir based on the author’s temporary and frightening brush with insanity at the age of 24, is honest and extremely well told.
Charles Portis, somewhat under the radar before the success of the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, has finally been fully embraced. Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany, edited by Jay Jennings, pulls together such disparate items as the author’s reporting on the civil rights movement, tributes from other writers, and a never before published three-act play.
A treasure trove for music lovers, 101 Essential Rock Records salutes the wonder of vinyl. With contributions from numerous musicians, like David Bowie and Devendra Banhart, this compilation covers a range of artists from Bob Dylan to Captain Beefheart. Beware: Your Valentine may pay more attention to this book than to you upon receipt.
For those with a more twisted bent, Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies is a welcome change from more traditional fare. This funny and unlikely romance between a zombie and a living girl echoes that of the star-crossed lovers of Romeo and Juliet.
Sumptuous and lush, Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration by Deborah Nadoolman Landis entrances readers. The writer, an Academy Award-nominated costume designer, has a glorious eye for provocative and never-before-seen illustrations from a variety of show biz professionals.
Summon your inner child with Sprial Draw from Klutz. This instruction manual comes with wheels, shapes and a six-color pen to take you right back to simpler, more carefree times of artistry.
Few have palpated the heart through time like the Beatles. The John Lennon Letters, edited by Hunter Davies, gives an astonishing glimpse into the soul of one of America’s greatest treasures.
Initially famous for her salted caramels (yum!), Christine Moore went on to become a successful restauranter. Little Flower: Recipes from the Café easily illustrates the key to this chef’s success with mouth watering recipes, like Buttermilk Pretzel Rolls and Brown Butter Cake with Apricots. Prepare your love a dinner and watch him/her swoon.
One of the cutest children’s books I’ve seen, In My Tree by Sara Gillingham and Lorena Siminovich will bring out your inner child.
Let Nora Ephron battle the war of the sexes for you with her fine collection of essays Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble. Combined into one treasure trove of wisdom and humor, Ephron’s spot on point of view on such disparate topics as breasts and baking, heartily challenges conventional wisdom.
Not all romance is torrid. Some romance is thoughtful and deliberate. Jon Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power will satisfy your inner brain while projecting a quiet sex appeal.
Comprehensive to the extreme, Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity has nearly 300 pages in the bibliography. But don’t let that scare you; this readable and informative look into children with “differences” from disabilities to transgender, to off-the-charts intelligence is provocative, heartbreaking and ultimately full of numerous kindnesses.
The increasingly famous Pippa Middleton (sister of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) makes her mark with Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends. This fun and informative book contains massive amounts of ideas for entertaining, from recipes to crafts to decorating. She may just be a Martha Stewart for the 21st Century.
For those who like their love with a dollop of the dark side, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm will satisfy your baser instincts. This new edition edited by Philip Pullman brings together retellings of 50 stories on their 200th anniversary.
Some like diamonds for Valentine’s, and others prefer more alternative delights. Luigi Ballerini’s A Feast of Weeds celebrates the bounty of edible plants that grow wild and are often overlooked. What could be more romantic than picking a wallflower?
There’s a reason why wine accompanies many a meal: It’s the sensuality, stupid. A Vineyard in Napa by Doug Shafer recounts his story of abandoning his life as a publishing executive for the unknown of being a vintner. Salud!
Nothing could be finer than an accordion serenade and a dish of spaghetti like in Lady and the Tramp. Palmer-Hughes Accordion Course, Book I will inspire you or your honey to take up the squeezebox and play.
Siblings will appreciate Nell Leyshon’s nod to the Bronte sisters with The Colour of Milk. A throwback to a different era, this story of knowledge, both sexual and intellectual, gave me goosebumps.
The mother-son genre gets an invigorating shot in the hip with Richard Russo’s Elsewhere. One of America’s greatest living writers explores his unique relationship with his very “original” mom to great touching and comic effect.
Reminiscent of Alison Bechdel, Nicole J. Georges shoots straight and manages to make you laugh through your tears. Calling Dr. Laura unpeels like an onion with enough secrets to fuel a daytime soap opera.
A Valentine doesn’t have to be romantic. Elena Ferrante’s novels are the kind you want to pass on to someone simpatico. Her latest, My Brilliant Friend, rivals the author’s earlier novel, Troubling Love, in its ability to captivate and tease until you are wrestled into submission.