February 14 is not everybody's favorite day. The candy hearts and pink balloons and oversized teddy bears can all feel a little exclusive. But you know what? Valentine's Day doesn't just have to be for loved-up couples. It's a day about love — so why not show yourself some love this V-Day with these books about self-love?
If that means buying yourself a giant stuffed animal wrapped in a red bow and taking yourself out for a fancy-ass dinner for one — then you have my full support. But if you'd rather treat yourself to a quiet night in, then let me give you some suggestions.
Light some candles, slip into something a little more comfortable (ahem, sweatpants), and settle down to read one of these wonderfully romantic novels. And don't worry, I'm not talking traditional romance. There are no hearts-and-flowers here, no cutesy notes slipped into lockers, no over-the-top proposals that will make you curl into a ball of jealousy. These books are all about showing some love to the most important person in your life: you.
So don't let the V-Day blues get you down. No matter your relationship status, February 14 can still be the most loved-up day of your year. Oh, and bonus points for buying yourself a giant stuffed animal on the way home.
1'The Happy Book' by Rachel Kempster and Meg Leder
This fun journal is all about celebrating what makes you happy. It's packed with prompts for doodles and lists that will remind you of all the things you love about your life, and about yourself.
2'Stargirl' by Jerry Spinelli
OK, OK, so I lied earlier. This book does involve some cutesy romance moments — but that's not the most important part of the story. At its heart is Stargirl, who doesn't fit in to her new school at Mica High. This lovely story is a celebration of noncomformity, and being true to yourself.
3'Anatomy of a Boyfriend' by Daria Snadowsky
Anatomy of a Boyfriend is about a teenage girl who thinks that having a boyfriend is the most important part of her life. She loves Wes — but eventually she starts to realize that she's not truly being herself around him. Throughout the course of this book, Dom learns an important lesson — about truly loving yourself before you can love anyone else.
4'Look at Me' by Jennifer Egan
It's easy to value ourselves based solely on what we look like, no matter how dangerous we know that is. Look at Me contains a series of overlapping stories — from the ex-fashion model whose face is badly scarred in a car accident, to the plain teenage girl with a dangerous secret life. This isn't the feel-good inspirational fiction that you're used to: Look at Me is an edgy and daring thriller, but one that will give your self-image a serious boost.
5'In Her Shoes' by Jennifer Weiner
Sisters Rose and Maggie have nothing in common. Rose thinks Maggie is irresponsible and dishonest; Maggie thinks Rose is uptight and interfering. All they share is a childhood tragedy and the same size feet — and, it turns out, the power to inspire each other.
6'Bossypants' by Tina Fey
Tina Fey is one of the most inspirational and badass women on our TV screens — and her memoir Bossypants is all about the incredible power of believing in yourself and your dreams.
7'Tiny Beautiful Things' by Cheryl Strayed
After Cheryl Strayed found herself along the Pacific Crest Trail, she came back home and got a job writing for an advice column. Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of that advice — and it's a great way to get some Cheryl Strayed motivation without having to strap on any hiking boots.
8'How to Be a Heroine' by Samantha Ellis
Instead of moping around reading Pride and Prejudice and pining after Mr Darcy, read Samantha Ellis's How to Be a Heroine — and learn how to be the hero of your own story.
9'Going Solo' by Eric Klinenberg
Did you know that people who live alone make up 28 percent of all U.S. households? That makes them more common than any other domestic unit — including the nuclear family. Living alone is becoming more and more appealing to American adults, and Going Solo is all about how empowering and badass it can feel to go it alone.
10'Once Upon A River' by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Sixteen-year-old Margo is a heroine you'll never forget. She begins the novel complicit in the violent death of her father, and setting off down the Stark River to search for her vanished mother — and to figure out the person that she wants to be. Seeing how Margo finds companionship in the nature around her, you'll never feel lonely again.
11'Redefining Realness' by Janet Mock
Janet Mock's powerful memoir about her life as a trans woman is filled with insights into what it means to be a woman today — and how to be authentically, unapologetically yourself.
12'The Melting Season' by Jami Attenberg
This beautiful novel is a twist on the "taking a journey to rediscover yourself" trope that we know and love. In The Melting Season, Catherine runs away from the small town where she's lived her whole life, hoping to leave her troubled past behind her. But instead, the new friends she makes along the journey embolden her to reveal her secrets, and to come face to face with the person she really is.
13'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker
There's a reason The Color Purple is so beloved — and it's sure to bring a smile to your face this Valentine's Day. There is a powerful love between Celie and Shug, but that's not the center of this story: at the novel's heart is Celie learning to value and love herself.
14'Go Your Own Way' ed. by Faith Conlon
In these essays, women tell their stories of journeying solo the jungles of Borneo, or dancing in Buenos Aires, or trekking in Yosemite. There are adventures to be had beyond falling in love — and this book is filled with 23 of them.