Valentine’s Day appeal the most to two groups of people: the kinds of people who cry during Hallmark commercials and the ones that have sex every day (sometimes twice).
Since last year’s V-day tribute was dedicated to those looking for love and missing out, here’s hoping that the past 365 days of searching have paid off. Presenting:
Top 5 Books to Read to Your (Sentimental) Lover
Kissing Tennessee, by Kathi Appelt
It may have been written with kids in mind, but KT is perfect for anyone who can remember back to their puppy love days. In her collection of short stories centered around Dogwood Junior High’s Stardust Dance, Appelt includes a little bit of romance for everyone: tragic love, star-crossed love, gay love, unrequited love, meant-to-be love, I-love-only-my-shoes love.
Type of love: The young kind.
Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand
Noble and brave but emotionally crippled by his enormous shnoz, Cyrano gave up on his love for Roxane by helping bro-rival Christian woo her with his words. It’s not until Christian is dead and Cyrano lies dying that Roxane discovers the truth. Lesson learned: over-sized appendages are not automatic deal breakers. And on this very romantic holiday, speak up for once.
Type of love: Why didn’t you tell me earlier?!
The Summer Guest, by Justin Cronin
TSG is a sweet tale that slowly reveals just how complicated love can be, whether its love for a person, love for two people, or love for a place. Figure-eighting between present, WWII, distant memories, and the Vietnam War, Cronin unravels just how far people are willing to go for the people they care about most. Also, it’s set in a rustic Maine fishing camp, which sounds terrible unromantic until you go to one yourself and check it out. I highly recommend it.
Type of love: It’s complicated.
The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy
France’s Reign of Terror sounds pretty much like the worst thing ever, but the story is surprisingly moving in the romance department. Marguerite St. Just is manipulative and bored with her foppish, dandy husband Sir Percy. As the French Revolution swirls around them, a secret society of English aristocrats is rescuing French pals from the guillotine. I’m going to let you guess who the leader of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel is.
Type of love: I didn’t realize I loved you until I discovered your alter ego.
1. GWTW was nearly named Tote the Weary Load, which automatically decreases the romance value by 16%.
2. Rhett Butler Quote-o-matic: “You need to be kissed, and often, an by someone who knows how.”
Be still my beating heart.
Type of love: Old-school South
Top 5 Sexy Stories to Read Your (Sensual) Lover
Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill
It’s not your typical romance, and (depending on what you’re in to) not your typical sexy. Gaitskill has made a name for herself as a name-your-favorite-taboo author whose favorite subjects often circle prostitution and sado-masochism. Subjects not included in your V-Day plans? Don’t worry. There are quite a few racy passages that can appeal to even the tamest of raunchy readers.
Type of love: Whatever get’s ya goin’.
It’s the sort-of autobiography of Henry Miller’s life as a struggling writer. It’s up to you to guess which parts of the graphic sex scenes are true, and which were fabricated by the lonely author himself. Some things to keep in mind: TOC was originally tried for obscenity in the 1960s because of the sexy descriptions. Also, Henry Miller and Anais Nin were lovers around that time, and one of her greatest quotes to him was: “I want to do things so wild with you that I don’t know how to say them.”
Type of love: Physical
The Possibility of an Island, by Michel Houellebecq
TPOAI follows an outsider as he enters a cult of sexually promiscuous health fanatics known as Elohim. There are other parts, too: immortality by means of cloning, depressing and failed love affairs, emotionally devoid “neohumans.” It’s not an uplifting read for ol’ V-day; I recommend flipping through to the heady gonzo sex scenes and saving the rest for tomorrow.
Type of love: Unflattering.
Laughable Loves, by Milan Kundera
The unfortunate thing about literary lovin’ (as opposed to smutty lovin’) is that the lovin’ usually doesn’t end on a happy note. Case in point with LL, which is a great collection of short stories from the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and centers on the (sometimes brutal) humor of relationships. Feeling extra saucy today? Checkout “The Hitchhiking Game” which details one couple’s role-playing gone a bit awry.
Type of love: Cynical realism.
Montana Sky, by Nora Roberts
I can’t resist. I’m sorry. Montana Sky was the first romance novel I ever read, and it erupted into a short-lived passion for passionate prose, fervently passed around between my friends between classes. Every once in a while, on especially lonely Valentine’s Days, I will bask in the murder mystery, trio of trysts, and Big Sky country that make up MS. I never regret it. You won’t either.
Type of love: Guilty pleasure.
Any raunchy reads I’m missing? Let me know below.