You know what, Valentines Day is a jerk! It’s a pompous, gloating, narcissistic blowhard and it’s time we recognize that the standard definition of romantic love is, often times, seriously weak. When love is right, it’s a unicorn. But when it’s wrong, it can be painful or even dangerous as books will tell us.
So I wanted to pull together the ANTI-Valentines Day reading list for those who are without a partner this weekend, whether by choice or not. These books can help you remember why it’s better to wait for a good match than settling for the illusion.
Where dreams go to die: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. This book is a beautifully written story of a marriage built on grand dreams unfulfilled, and how the compromises made for a relationship can whittle a person down to nothing. It’s my top pick for the person who thinks that all love is perfect and marriage is the end all, be all.
How well do you *really* know your significant other?: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins , Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum. These are all stories about the consequences (at varying degrees of danger) of romanticizing love. Without spoiling anything, there are characters in these books that have unrealistic expectations of what love is supposed to mean and are in for rude awakenings.
Having friends is more important than romance- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Go back to your high school years and remember what it was like to dream of love but be thwarted and passed over at every turn. Then watch him make friends that change everything!
Do you really like emotional torment? Go with the classics- Romeo and Juliet by that Shakespeare fellow. Or Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. How about Rebecca by the amazing Daphne Du Maurier? No more needs to be said about those brilliant books.
You still think you want to be in love? Try Women by Chloe Caldwell. This is a brutal and emotional novella of a woman who is trying to piece her life back together after a love affair with another woman ends. Or how about Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion? Go deep into the year after the death of her husband, while her daughter is also on death’s door. In the words of Jim Morrison, “No One Gets Out of Here Alive”.
Want to just wallow in your antipathy and distain for love?- Dorothy Parker for the win! I mean, just ruminate on this for a while…
“By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying –
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.”
Bottom line- look for love from your friends, family, acquaintances, and in the little moments of kindness in life.