Listen, I'm just about as cynical as you can get about
Valentine's Day. I moan and whine and complain about how it's a made-up holiday. I scowl at couples who walk by me hand-in-hand. I scoff at the flower and chocolate deliveries. But, if I'm being honest, I'm a bit of a romantic at heart. And much of the reason I love love is because of the books that made me believe in love.
Through books, I've fallen in love hundreds of times. I've giggled with glee when the two characters I'm rooting for finally,
finally kissed, and I've cried big ugly sobs when their love is torn apart. I've found stories that I read over and over again because they make me feel a love so real that my heart fell out of my chest. And I've found love stories that have made me question how I feel about the romances in my own life.
These books won't just make you believe that love exists, but they'll make you believe in the power of love — in love's ability to survive, and persist, and heal. Her are 11 books to read to get in the spirit of Valentine's Day:
'The Sun is Also a Star' by Nicola Yoon
Told in alternating points-of-view, this #1
New York Times bestseller makes a strong case for love at first sight through the story of Natasha, a girl who believes in science and a Jamaican immigrant who is set to be deported at the end of the day, and Daniel, a boy who believes in poetry and dreams but is set to follow his Korean parents' ambitions for him. Over the course of one single day, these two discover the magic of true love. Click here to buy. 'They Both Die at the End' by Adam Silvera
This YA novel is also set over the course of 24 hours, but in a near-future New York City where a system called the Death-Cast calls citizens on the day of their death to inform them it's their End Day. When two teen boys receive their call, they both turn to an app called Last Friend and meet up for the first time to live out one final adventure.
Click here to buy. 'The Time Traveler's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger
Henry is a librarian who involuntarily travels through time. It's a blessing — but mostly a curse. He cannot control it, and he cannot take anything with him when he goes — not his clothes, not his wallet. Nothing. But on one of his trips to the past, he meets a six-year-old girl, Clare, who he happens to know in the present as the gorgeous 20-year-old artist he met in the library.
Click here to buy. 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell
Fandom and romance collide in this charming book, which is as much about finding yourself as it is about finding love. Cath is a fanfiction writer who's obsessed with the story of boy wizard Simon Snow. But when she begins her freshman year in college, she has a little trouble adjusting to life
without the constant presence of her twin, Wren, and with the constant presence of her roommate cute best friend, Levi. Click here to buy. 'Under the Udala Trees' by Chinelo Okparanta
Set in Nigeria during the country's civil war,
Under the Udala Trees centers on two girls who are separated from their families and come to be servants for a grammar-school teacher. There, they fall in love. But in Nigeria, homosexuality is illegal, and the two come from different ethnic communities — which means this love will have to be a secret they hide within themselves. Click here to buy. 'Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined To Meet' by Various Authors
Single, coupled, or otherwise, you can probably appreciate the redeeming power of a good "meet cute" — a.k.a. the moment when future lovers meet for the first time, usually in an unexpected, surprising, and utterly swoon-worthy way. This YA anthology is filled with mini love stories that will make you believe in Valentine's Day again.
Click here to buy. 'Gut Symmetries' by Jeannette Winterson
In this wonderful book, the author combines science with romance to tell the story of a beautiful and complicated love triangle that emerges between two physicists and a poet. Winterson's writing is masterful, and you will find yourself hanging onto every word.
Click here to buy. 'Landing' by Emma Donoghue
Before she wrote
Room, Emma Donoghue wrote a charming romance about two lesbians from very different backgrounds. When Síle, an adventurous flight-attendant who loves to travel the world, and Jude, a homebody archivist, meet at Heathrow Airport, they fall into a long-distance romance that shakes up both of their lives. Click here to buy. 'Love in the Time of Cholera' by Gabriel García Márquez
Sure, this is a classic, but you can't miss it. The story follows Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love in their youth. But after Fermina chooses to marry a wealthy doctor instead of Florentino, he spends the next 50 years trying to figure out how to get over her — or figure out how to win her back.
Click here to buy. 'All There Is: Love Stories From StoryCorps' by Dave Isay
How about some IRL love stories to convince you romance isn't just fiction? In
All There Is, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay shares some of the most heart-stopping love stories from his oral history project. Click here to buy. 'The Lover's Dictionary' by David Levithan
It just wouldn't be a Valentine's Day reading list without a book by iconic author and editor David Levithan in the mix. This sparkling love story is told entirely through dictionary entries, and it's both a touching romance and a profound rumination on the way we talk about love.
Click here to buy.