Top 10 Unexpected Books About Love
1st Feb 2016 in Books
It’s February, and you know what that means – Valentine’s Day! (I know – ugh.) I’m a rainbow sunshine hippy, and I do believe in love. But I don’t believe that you have to buy anyone tacky overpriced shit on a specific day to show that you love them. So in honour of being anti-Valentine’s Day (though not anti-love), here are my favourite stories about love, in all its complicated, horrible, wonderful, vital glory.
- Fingersmith, Sarah Waters – One of my favourite love stories, and even then the ‘happily ever after’ has a generous dollop of bleakness. Ah, just the way I like it.
- The Blue Girl, Laurie Foos – There are many different types of love here – both functional and dysfunctional – but the one that comes through the most strongly is the powerful and complex love between mothers and daughters.
- In Love With Death, Satish Modi – Brief but punchy philosophical essays on coming to terms with your inevitable death by falling in love with your life. This might seem morbid for Valentine’s Day, but after losing my dad and all my grandparents, I’ve come to see that the only way to truly appreciate life is to accept that it’s brief and utterly unpredictable – but all the more wonderful for that.
- Geek Love, Katherine Dunn – One of my all-time favourites, this novel chronicles a family of freak show performers and shows how love can make us do strange and terrible things.
- Big Ray, Michael Kimball – Although presented as fiction, it’s clear that Kimball’s own love-hate-love relationship with his own father had a huge influence on this book. This is one of the truest and most brutal books about loving and losing a parent that I’ve ever read.
- The Kiss, Kathryn Harrison – As this is a memoir about Harrison’s consensual incestuous relationship with her biological father, clearly this is not a positive portrayal of love. Love is good, love is bad, but love is rarely simple.
- Days of Grace, Catherine Hall – Good lord, how I adore this book. I’ve never read such a beautiful portrayal of unrequited love.
- Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block – This was one of my favourite books as a teenager. I wanted to be just like FLB when I grew up. It’s not to everyone’s taste (and even my jaded eyes now find it cloyingly sweet at times), but underlying the glitter there’s a strong message that you can love whomever you want to love, and family is whatever you want it to be.
- ‘Gold‘, Katherine McMahon (in Treasure in the History of Things) – McMahon’s poetry is so beautiful you can get high from it. She writes so wonderfully and honestly about love, particularly in this ode to an ex-girlfriend.
- Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell – This list has focussed more on the grim side of love (though, genuinely, I do think that only by confronting the bad aspects of life and love do we appreciate the good). Still, I’m ending on an upbeat note with this sweet, addictive novel about two people finding, losing and [SPOILER!] re-finding love.
What’s your favourite love story?