The Greatest Non-Romance Books to Read Around Valentine’s Day
Help us out here: we have the term “Scrooge” for people who don’t get into the Christmas spirit, but is there a similar word for Valentine’s Day haters? We’d really like to know, because we feel like the anti-holiday sentiment is getting stronger with each year. For those who absolutely despise seeing cartoon Cupids and pink and red colors blanketing stores as soon as Christmas is over, we hear you, and we’re here to provide an outlet for your frustrations. Here are a few of the best Valentine’s Day books for adults to read around that lovey-dovey time of year when you aren’t feeling very loving yourself.
My Sister, the Serial Killer
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel is a wickedly smart blend of satire and slasher, centered on Korede, a nurse whose younger sister Ayoola has a habit of murdering her boyfriends. Ayoola also has a habit of getting away with it, since she’s the golden child of the two – making her beautiful, smart, and treasured by her parents. But when Ayoola sets her murderous sights on the nice doctor that she secretly desires, Korede finds herself at a crossroads. Not only will My Sister, the Serial Killer take your mind off mushy, romantic relationships, it may even leave you with some interesting insight into familial obligations. Namely, would you really help your sibling hide a dead body?
Your Heart Belongs to Me
Turn those endless, gushy, themed items from objects of disgust to objects of fear with Dean Koontz’s Your Heart Belongs to Me. Honestly, we could write an essay about the symbolism of the shape in this thriller, from the main character’s incurable cardiomyopathy to his heart transplant and the subsequent heart-shaped horrors that come with it. And the source of those horrors is a woman who looks just like his organ donor! Is this a ghost story? A thriller? A bloody stalker/slasher novel? Put those thoughts of packaged chocolates and glittery cards aside as you dive in to find out!
Is any novel more anti-love than Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl? While we have some reservations about the quality of the novel as compared to Flynn’s earlier works, this one definitely checks all the boxes for an appropriately angry read around this time of year. The tight prose and unfurling mystery will have you racing to the end of this one to answer the book’s titular mystery of what happened to Amy Dunne. And for that extra little thrill, you can watch the movie as well!
The Valentine’s Day Murder
Honestly, who needs love stories when you can have murder mysteries instead? Lee Harris (real name Syrell Leahy) is known for her classic mystery novels featuring an ex-nun investigator. (We were hooked as soon as we read about that main character!) The Valentine’s Day Murder is the eighth novel in the series, but you won’t miss anything by skipping directly to this themed installment. The premise of the story is simple, but intriguing: three men go for a walk on a frozen lake. They never return. When only two bodies are found, investigator Christine Bennett is called in to find out exactly what happened that fateful Valentine’s night.
Choose Your Own Disaster
Perfect for those looking to laugh at someone else’s bad dates and failed relationships instead of crying at their own! Dana Schwartz runs the viciously funny @GuyInYourMFA Twitter account, and that same wit and sense of humor is present in her recent memoir, Choose Your Own Disaster. In it, Schwartz provides a look into the trials and tribulations of a 20-something. Even if her specific struggles don’t resonate with your own experiences, you’re sure to laugh as she muddles through life. As an added bonus, the book is written similarly to those choose-your-own-adventure books that brought us so much joy when we were younger!
Does the teen slasher film “Valentine” ring a bell? Because this is the source material, and it’s way better than the movie. Tom Savage’s Valentine tells the story of a successful young author living in New York City. She finds herself the victim of a stalker who leaves her cryptic notes and voicemail messages. He promises to force things to a head on Valentine’s Day, making this horror-thriller a great choice for those who aren’t expecting any flowers from a loved one or a secret admirer this February.
The Bell Jar
Contrary to what countless books and movies might have us believe, romantic love is not the be-all, end-all for a woman. In The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath provides insight into the many pressures and intense feelings thrust upon women by chronicling the talented and beautiful Esther Greenwood’s descent into insanity. With a focus on Esther’s depression and mentions of suicide, this is not a light read. But if you’re looking for a novel that explores the darker complexities of human emotions without a heavy focus on romance, this is it.
This is How You Lose Her
Okay, there’s some love in this one, but it’s more painful than sappy. Junot Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her is a collection of short stories that focus on a serial cheater who falls for and then succeeds in driving away a succession of extraordinary women. Diaz’s energetic language and imagery will place you squarely in each story, ready to experience the heartbreak and frustration felt by these characters. You might be the cheater, the jilted lover, or just someone looking for proof of the inevitable pointlessness of this whole “romance” thing – but you’ll find a line of dialogue or a paragraph of description that seems to speak directly to you here.
What Do You Read in February?
The best part about our work at Frostbeard Studio is that it stems from a deep love of literature. So whether you’re lighting one of our book-inspired soy candles and kicking your feet up with a horror novel or a sickeningly sweet romance, we applaud you for taking the time to enjoy a good book. Let us know what Valentine’s Day books you’re reading this month in the comments below!