15 Anti-Valentine's Day Books For Readers Who Can't Get Into Happily Ever After

Ad failed to load

I wouldn't say that I hate Valentine's Day. It's not that I think we shouldn't buy our loved ones candy hearts made out of chalk. But I think we can all be completely honest with ourselves, and admit that Valentine's Day usually makes us feel like unlovable garbage. It reminds unhappily single people how lonely they are. It makes happily single people feel like they're doing it wrong. It puts pressure on people in relationships to sum up all their intangible feelings with a stuffed bear. It probably causes more house fires, too, what with all the candles. So if you're just not feeling the love this year, skip the awkward dinner dates and stay home with one of these excellent Anti-Valentine books.

To be perfectly clear, some of these books still have a whiff of romance to them. But for the most part, they stay focused on friendships. Or they deconstruct romantic tropes. Or they just lean hard into the whole "Screw Cupid" vibe. Either way, these books are a big departure from cutesy rom-coms and fairy tale endings. They'll remind you that not everything in life is about romantic love or rings hidden in pastry. And beyond that, they're just really great reads for a no-pressure February the 14th:

Ad failed to load

'Bad Behavior' by Mary Gaitskill

If you're feeling especially angsty this V-day, stay home with the dark, cathartic writings of Mary Gaitskill. Bad Behavior is a sometimes beautiful, often chilling short story collection about love and sex gone bad.

Click here to buy.

'Flaming Iguanas: An Illustrated All-Girl Road Novel Thing' by Erika Lopez

There is some romance in Flaming Iguanas, but the main focus of the story is Tomato Rodriguez and her all-girl motorcycle journey across America to find the perfect post office. It's wild, hysterical, and bursting with positivity, for when you just want to hop on your motorcycle and skip town.

Click here to buy.

'Beauty Queens' by Libba Bray

A sudden plane crash leaves a group of teen beauty queens stranded on a strange island. They're going to have to find a way to get along in order to survive, not to mention keeping up their talent show skills in this darkly humorous adventure.

Click here to buy.

Ad failed to load

'Why Not Me?' by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me? follows Mindy Kaling through her career in Hollywood, her fling with a member of Obama's secret service, and numerous other anecdotes that'll leave you weak with laughter. Kaling is also here to remind you that there's nothing wrong being single and happy and fabulously dressed.

Click here to buy.

'Mr. Fox' by Helen Oyeyemi

St John Fox is celebrated novelist, but he's not always the greatest when it comes to writing women. At least, that's the opinion of Mary Foxe, one of his fictional characters. She's frustrated with all his murdered heroines, and she's determined to change his sexist writing ways — or else.

Click here to buy.

'Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings' by Linda Rodríguez McRobbie

Forget those Disney princesses and their adorably bland princes. Here's what was really going on. Princesses Behaving Badly upends all those romantic fairy tales tropes with some weird and wonderful true stories from the history of royal ladies.

Click here to buy.

Ad failed to load

'Difficult Women' by Roxane Gay

The inimitable Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist, brings us haunting stories of difficult women from all across America. Here you'll find hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and everything in between. It's not an anit-love book, per say, but one which adds a whole lot of nuance to the idea of living happily ever after.

Click here to buy.

'The Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath

Esther Greenwood is supposed to be having the time of her life. She's young and clever and at a prestigious editing internship in New York City. And yet it all feels like agony. Sylvia Plath's classic novel is still one of the most nuanced, honest depictions of mental illness ever written, and romance takes a back seat to Esther's fight for survival.

Click here to buy.

'This Is How You Lose Her' by Junot Díaz

If you're nursing a broken heart this Valentine's Day, sometimes you want to just lean into it. This Is How You Lose Her is the most hilarious, stunningly brilliant depiction of break ups and cheating and every other flavor of romantic betrayal. Pairs well with chucking candy hearts at the wall.

Click here to buy.

Ad failed to load

'The Portable Dorothy Parker' by Dorothy Parker

When all else fails, there's always Dorothy Parker and her acerbic wit. Parker's short stories and poems eviscerate every trope of romance. She's the patron saint of bitter women, and her biting rhyming couplets still hold up to modern dating complaints.

Click here to buy.

'All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation' by Rebecca Traister

Looking for some non-fiction about how dating is garbage and being single is not so bad? Pick up All the Single Lades. It's a fascinating look at unmarried women in modern America, and why it seems that there are so many more single ladies these days.

Click here to buy.

'Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows' by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Law school drop out Nikki has always shied away from her traditional Sikh upbringing. But somehow, she finds herself teaching a "creative writing" course to a class full of conservative Punjabi widows. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is a lovely, funny, raunchy tale of female friendships (and erotica) across generations and cultural differences.

Click here to buy.

Ad failed to load

'The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter' by Theodora Goss

If you're looking for a wonderfully weird story about lady monsters being friends, look no further. Mary Jekyll is all alone in the world, until she discovers a strange girl called Diana Hyde. As she continues to search for the secrets of her father's past, Mary will uncover an entire world of odd experimentation and ferocious female friendships.

Click here to buy.

'Woman on the Edge of Time' by Marge Piercy

Consuela Ramos has been declared insane. Her child has been taken away, and she's been institutionalized against her will. The only problem is that Connie is not insane: she's just able to communicate with the year 2137. And the people of the future need her help if the human race is going to survive...

Click here to buy.

'This Love Story Will Self-Destruct' by Leslie Cohen

Yes, this does have "love story" in the title, and yes, it does deal with two characters in a romantic relationship. But it also upends all the rom-com tropes we've come to expect, and delivers something wholly new in the story of Eve and Ben navigating the highs and lows of their twenties.

Click here to buy.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Here's Your Horoscope For Memorial Day Weekend

We’re constantly fascinated by what our zodiac sign says about our lives, whether it's which signs are most compatible or how each sign handles conflict in relationships. That's why Bustle has enlisted Mecca Woods, a New York City-based astrologer of…
By Mecca Woods

These Are The Absolute Best Memorial Day Sales This Year

Get your credit cards ready, because this year's fashion and beauty Memorial Day sales might just be the best ones yet. There's not only major savings for the holiday, but some of the savings start days before. You know, so you can spend the entire w…
By Kali Borovic

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In June To Help Get Your Summer Started

Summer is right around the corner, and so is another batch of streaming options to get excited about. On Wednesday, everything leaving and coming to Netflix in June 2018 was announced by the streaming platform. And don't worry, there's something for …
By Jamie Primeau

These Are The Beauty Products That Came Out In May That You DEFINITELY Need On Your Radar

For beauty lovers, months aren't just months: They're 28 to 31 day periods, wherein any and all product and brand launches can happen — and when they do, it feels like your birthday, no matter what time of the year you were actually born. The May 201…
By Amanda Richards

The 5 Rom-Coms You Need To Read This Summer, According To Someone Who Writes Them

'Tis the season for rom-coms. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and everyone is rocking the flirtiest items in their wardrobe. I don't know about you, but summer always takes me back to my teenage years — and that automatically makes me want t…
By Cristina Arreola

11 Tiny Sunglasses That Will Make You Look Even Cooler Than Kylie Jenner

You know what they say — the tinier the sunglasses, the more stylish the outfit. OK, that's not really a saying, but it seems to be the case these days. Basically every celebrity, model, and It person has been spotted sporting tiny sunglasses as part…
By Sara Tan

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley

12 Personality Quizzes That Will Help You Determine Your Exact Strengths

Learning more about yourself can be tough. It's so easy to observe others to learn what makes them tick, what areas they really excel in, and the things they could be better at. Doing that to yourself, however, is a whole different story. That's exac…
By Jessica Booth

5 Brand New Short Story Collections You Can Finish In One Sitting This Weekend

Since 2013, May has been known by book-lovers by another name: Short Story Month. If you're ready to kick off this year's celebration the right way, make sure to pick up a short story collection to read over the weekend. Modern life moves more than …
By Sadie Trombetta

I Got Styled By 'Queer Eye's Tan France & Realized I Still Have A Lot Of Fashion "Rules" To Unlearn

When I walked into a New York City Express store on May 2 to get styled by Queer Eye's Tan France, I was ready for anything. And I mean truly anything. I am such a massive fan of the show and Tan that if he had instructed me to wrap myself in tin foi…
By Olivia Muenter

It Isn’t Bad To Have A “Princess Fantasy” — Mine Made Me The Woman I Am Today

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you were anything like me as a kid, at some point, the answer to that question was "a princess." Thanks to good old-fashioned gender stereotypes, most little girls born in the '90s (and even now) grew up in…
By Nicole Pomarico

Here’s How To Get A FREE 30-Minute Facial At Sephora That Sucks Your Pores Clean

Sephora has long been a mecca for both serious and amateur beauty lovers alike, where they not only have makeup artists that help answer questions about products, but free samples to let you play with new collections. But now they have upped the ante…
By Marlen Komar

Kris Jenner Is FINALLY Launching A Makeup Line With Kylie

Maybe you don't have a favorite sister of the Kar-Jenner clan, and that's perfectly fine. The one thing you can't deny, though, is that when it comes power, no one in that family has more than the world famous momager. Now, Kris Jenner x Kylie Cosmet…
By Shea Simmons

This Kendall Jenner “Diva” Moment Is Really Being Taken Out Of Context

The fashion always takes center stage at the Met Gala, but there's usually a little drama, too. And this time, a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family is involved. People are buzzing about how Kendall Jenner shoved someone at the Met Gala, but after…
By Nicole Pomarico

Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix? Add These Movies To Your Watch List

The weekend may feel too far away, but if you're lacking formal plans, a Netflix marathon session is always a good idea. If you're an avid viewer, however, you probably feel like you've seen everything the streaming platform has to offer already. In …
By Ashley Rey

Hillary Clinton Says She's Ready To Fight Like A Republican — EXCLUSIVE

Hillary Clinton Is Not Going Away Quietly. Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into The Night? Unlike Losers Before Her, Clinton Is Not Going Gently Into the Night. These headlines, which appeared in various news outlets over the course of the last…
By Catherine Thompson and Jenny Hollander

Here's The Very Best Time To Book Your Summer Vacation If You're Trying To Save Money

Summer is a great time to travel, for obvious reasons. The weather is better. Many offices are more lax about time off. If you have kids, they’re out of school. But there’s one very important element that makes summer not a great time to travel: Cost…
By Emma McGowan