It’s not always easy to believe in true love. But if you, as I do, feel that one of the most courageous acts that we can commit as humans is to fall in love and share oneself with another, here are some books that will reignite your romanticism this Valentine’s Day week. There is snow everywhere, and a feeling that anything is possible. Could anything be more lovely than curling up with a book or two and a mug of your favorite coffee or tea?
If you believe in The One:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – One of the best love stories, or any book ever written (and my favorite rebuttal to charges that women’s fiction is of “minor” literary merit). While Austen’s letters to her niece, Fanny, reveal her belief that a successful marriage is an economically and socially considered act, she also insisted that “one should never marry without love.” And so she created the most enviable couple in all of literature, and (posthumously) canonized Colin Firth in the hearts of females everywhere. Note: take a leaf from the Austen book of flirting. For instance, Miss Bingley’s swanning about a room, “because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking.” That’s Austenian for, “show off what you got!”
If you are searching for love after 40:
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding – Our modern, self-deprecating, ever-hopeful Bridget is back–as a widow, having lost the love of her life. Will she manage to get back in the game as a single mother “of a certain age”? And, is it okay to date a man a few decades younger in her late middle age?
If you need to reignite your passion:
Arabian Nights (aka One Thousand and One Nights) — Here is the original paragon of erotica that would make Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey blush. This collection of stories passed down from medieval Persia, Arabia, India, China, Egypt, and other distant lands, is sensual, lush, magical, and intoxicating.
If you need no man to save you:
The Book of Heaven by Patricia Storace — If you are an independent woman who believes in the divine feminine, then go for this quadriptych of loosely linked, mythical tales based on Old Testament characters. You meet Souraya, whose marriage is a story of love and betrayal; Eve, Princess Sheba, Sarah wife of Abraham, and other unforgettable women.
If love means “passion” rather than “romance”:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (not pictured) — Considered by many to be one of the best books ever written (sorry for all the superlatives, guys), this tragic love story is saved from melodrama by its unparalleled observation and lush drama. Unlike in Austen novels, love is not a happy ending in Anna Karenina–it’s the reason we live and die.
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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling