Every February, the fairy tales begin in earnest: Prince Charming, true love's kiss, and happily ever afters are everywhere you look. Quite frankly, it can make real-life romantic relationships look pretty pathetic. If you're sick of Valentine's Day's unrealistic portrayal of romance, you might want to check out these
nonfiction books about love that will reshape the way you think about romance, soulmates, and finding "the one."
It is easy to be cynical about love, especially around
Valentine's Day. The holiday is supposed to honor love in its purest form, but instead, it has become an excuse for advertisers, Hollywood, and the entire chocolate industry to make women and men everywhere feel unfulfilled in their own romantic relationships. How are we supposed to feel positively about the possibilities love holds when all of the examples we're given are just so, well, unrealistic?
As always, the answer lies in books. Sure, there are plenty of
romance novels out there for readers who want to get swept off their feet by the unexpected or unrealistic, but for those of us looking for stories about real love — the difficulties of dating, the challenges of marriage, and the possibility of finding someone to build a life with — there are some truly remarkable reads just waiting to be discovered.
From the deeply personal to the highly scientific and everything in between, here are nine
nonfiction books on relationships, marriage, and finding true love. 'How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays' by Mandy Len Catron
In this beautifully poignant book, Mandy Len Catron explores the myths we tell ourselves about attraction, romance, and falling, and staying, in love. Using a combination of thought-provoking research and personal anecdotes,
How to Fall in Love with Anyone seeks to find out why some relationships don't last, whether or not social media is hurting our chances of happiness, and whether or not love can survive in our modern world. Click here to buy. 'Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give' by Ada Calhoun
In her funny and piercing look at love and the realities of modern relationships, Ada Calhoun offers an alternative to the two clichés many have come to accept about marriage: perfect domestic bliss, or a messy and inevitable divorce. Over the course of seven thoughtful and often hilarious essay that confront topics like infidelity, boredom, personal conflict, and more,
Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give is a celebration of real love, of real marriage, and of the real people we decide, against all odds, to make a life with. Click here to buy. 'The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World — and Us' by Richard O. Prum
There are a lot of ways to interpret it, but at its core, love is, like everything else, about sex. In
The Evolution of Beauty, Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum looks at the unusual mating choices in the animal world, choices that seemingly go against the theory of selection for individual survival, and presents a groundbreaking theory for the evolution of human sexuality. If you're looking for the scientific nuts and bolts of love and relationships, this is it. Click here to buy. 'The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs, and the Search for the Ultimate Equation' by Hannah Fry
If you're sick of looking at relationships through rose-colored glasses, Dr. Hannah Fry's mathematical breakdown of dating, sex, and marriage just might be the love story you've always wanted.
The Mathematics of Love attempts to quantify our understanding of love by looking at the patterns that dictate who we meet, and ultimately, who we fall for. A truly fascinating read, this slim book will completely transform the way you look at true love. Click here to buy. 'How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage' by Jo Piazza
Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Jo Piazza wants to tell you what no one else will: yes, marriage is hard, but there are a lot of ways to make it easier, or at least better. Drawing from interviews with women from 25 countries across five continents,
How to Be Married is a heartwarming attempt to help readers figure out just that. Click here to buy. 'Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love' by Helen Fisher
Best known for her groundbreaking exploration of modern romantic relationships,
Anatomy of Love, Helen Fisher has spent a lot of her career thinking, and writing, about the science behind all those warm and fuzzy feelings . In Why We Love, she draws from scientific data and extensive research to ask and try and answer all of the Five W's about love. Eloquent and compelling, Fisher's insight will help you better understand one of the most fundamental components of humanity: connection. Click here to buy. 'What Love Is: And What It Could Be' by Carrie Jenkins
What is love? Carrie Jenkins attempts to answer that pesky age-old question in this beautiful and accessible book that looks at love through the lens of history, philosophy, and the social sciences. Thoughtful and inclusive,
How to Love is a wonderful combination of personal anecdote and serious philosophical reflection. Despite what the title implies, this important book doesn't tell people how to love, but asks them how they want to love and be loved in return. Click here to buy. 'All About Love: New Visions' by bell hooks
If you feel frustrated by the commonly accepted theories around modern of love and romance, this incisive essay collection from celebrated feminist, critic, and scholar bell hooks might be exactly what you need for a new frame of reference.
All About Love attempts to redefine what it means to love, beyond the romantic and sexual definitions of the word. In doing so, hooks offers a practical new way for people to treat one another with respect, care, and, of course, love. Click here to buy. 'Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage' by Dani Shapiro
In this breathtaking memoir about marriage, the power of memory, and the emotional bonds that make us who we are, bestselling author Dani Shapiro examines her own life and relationships to explore how the people we planned to be become the people we are. Searingly honest and remarkably insightful,
Hourglass is an eye-opening look at love, disappointment, and what to do after the happily ever after. Click here to buy.