Like any single person, I love to hate Valentine's Day. A whole day designed to rub disgusting, cutesy love in everybody's face? No thanks. But I also secretly love Valentine's Day because it gives me an excuse to do anything I want in the name of giving a big fat middle finger to Cupid. Which means that every Valentine's Day, I take myself on a self-care date, complete with cookie dough, candles, and of course, books.
And let's face it, books are way better than human dates. Books are always there for you, but their feelings won't get hurt if you need to put them down for a while because you need some space (or another book). They always have something to say. You don't have to be anything you're not or do anything you don't want to do when you're reading a book. Every night with a book is an adventure. Plus, they make great bedmates.
So, here are some great books to read this Valentine's Day instead of going on a stupid date. Read them in your PJs, in the bathtub, or maybe even get dolled up and take them to a nice dinner. Seriously, who needs IRL romance when you've got a library card?
1'The Stars Are Legion' by Kameron Hurley
A universe without men? Yes, please. This space opera from Hugo-winner Kameron Hurley takes place in a fleet of world-sized ships called Legion. Zan wakes up with no memory, and is told that she is the only one who can command a ship that will get them out of Legion. But can Zan really trust what she's being told? This is a visceral adventure that will wrap you up entirely.
2'Best Women's Erotica Of The Year, Vol. 1' edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
If you want to get steamy this Valentine's, you need some good erotica. This is a great collection of short stories, and if you've never read erotica before, it's the perfect place to start. There's a wide variety in the types of stories and kinks that are in this collection, so it's a great way to figure out what you like.
3'So Sad Today' by Melissa Broder
This collection of essays is perfect for a night home alone. A follow-up to her so sad today Twitter account, Broder discusses depression, anxiety, sex, relationships, sexting, fetishes, and more. This is one of those books that will give a voice to parts of you that you didn't think anyone else experienced. Plus, Broder's writing style is sassy, wildly honest, and cool.
4'The Wangs Vs. The World' by Jade Chang
This book is the perfect balance of smart and fun. When a Chinese-American family, the Wangs, lose their enormous fortune, they pile into a car to road trip across the country. Each family member is fighting for their own dreams, but the patriarch, Charles, is staunchly determined to go back to China and reclaim the family's land.
5'Pretend I'm Dead' by Jen Beagin
This book is so lovely and strange, and I adore it. The book follows Mona, a maid, as she falls for a man she meets at a needle exchange, and winds up moving to New Mexico. Mona's personality is wry and irresistibly hilarious, and this book is filled with tiny, magnificent moments.
6'Juliet Takes a Breath' by Gabby Rivera
It's impossible to feel alone when you're hanging out with Juliet Milagros Palante, a baby queer from the Bronx who just got an internship in Portland with the author of her favorite feminist book. Follow along as Juliet navigates feminism, intersectionality, love, and life itself.
7'All the Ugly and Wonderful Things' by Bryn Greenwood
OK, maybe this Valentine's Day you just want to cry your eyes out? Then this is the book for you. We follow Wavy from the young age of eight, whose neglectful and destructive home has given many quirks . When one of her father's employees crashes his motorcycle and Wavy helps him, it begins a deep relationship that stays with her throughout her life.
8'Romeo and/or Juliet' by Ryan North
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet may be a classic tale of love, but Romeo and/or Juliet turns it into something else entirely. In this choose-your-own-adventure, the reader gets to decide how the love story ends.
9'The Queen of the Night' by Alexander Chee
This rich and thrilling book is filled with glamour, secrets, adventure, and opera — perfect for Valentine's Day. Set in 19th century Paris, the book follows Lilliet Berne, an opera superstar who has just been honored with her own libretto. When Lilliet discovers one of her darkest secrets has been written into that libretto, she takes readers on a wild journey through her past to discover who betrayed her.
10'You Can't Touch My Hair' by Phoebe Robinson
Skip the awkward date and stay in with Phoebe Robinson instead. Covering topics of race, gender, and pop culture, this book is written in Robinson's signature fierce and funny style. You'll fall in love at first read.