I’ve been single for roughly 97% of the 46 Valentine’s Days I’ve been on Earth, which is probably why I have something of a love/hate attitude about the holiday. On one hand, I’m prone to railing against its manufactured nature and the fact that it seems to be designed to test relationships and make people who aren’t in them feel alone. But I’m also a hopeless romantic who can get behind a holiday that, despite its disturbing origins, is one day out of the year we can devote to celebrating the grand, sweeping, glorious force that is love. If there ever was something worthy of celebration, it’s that.
The problem, I think, is limiting the Valentine’s Day focus solely to romantic love and the traditional (and tired) cis boy and girl, chocolate and roses, meet-cute and happily-ever-after clichés that typically define the holiday. There’s nothing wrong with giving your partner some truffles or queueing up a romantic comedy on February 14, but we could also think more expansively. There are, after all, so many different types of love worth acknowledging and celebrating this Valentine’s Day.
Here are my recommendations for books that showcase a range of passions—like food, friendship, and even clothes. Whether you’re partnered up or not, I hope at least one of these picks speaks to your heart and reminds you that love takes many splendid forms.
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