You may have noticed the chocolate hearts and red balloons that have sprung up in shops, which can only mean one thing – it’s Valentine’s Day, but February 14 isn’t just about showing love to others; it’s also important to show love to yourself too! And what better way than curling up with a new book and taking the time to relax?
Treat yourself to a new read this Valentine’s Day
Books are a lovely gift to give yourself and one you can appreciate over time. If you’re wondering what books to buy, we’ve gathered the below list that will set your heart aflutter.
1. The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022, this is a classic Ruth Ozeki novel: daring, sympathetic, and heart-breaking, with a cast of fascinating characters and issues as diverse as jazz, climate change, and our preoccupation with material possessions. It follows the story of Benny Oh, who begins hearing voices following the untimely passing of his father. The cacophony of voices becomes much more intense as his mother is diagnosed with a hoarding disorder. Overwhelmed by this, Benny runs away to the peace and quiet of a vast public library. There he meets a dazzling street artist who flaunts his pet ferret and a homeless philosopher-poet who teaches him to listen to the things that are actually important to him.
2. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
Eimear McBride’s award-winning debut novel tells the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. The novel was awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2014, and it tells the story with exceptional insight and detail. When reading A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, you become immersed in the narrator’s thoughts and experience the world through her eyes. This is a personal look into the mind, heart, and uncontrollable sexuality of a young, isolated protagonist.
3. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
This novel by Claire Keegan is about a coal and timber merchant named Bill Furlong. It takes place in 1985 in a tiny village in Ireland and tells Bill’s story. In the days leading up to Christmas, Furlong is confronted with his past as he comes into contact with the silent complicity of members of the public, whose lives are controlled by the Church. This is an incredible tale of optimism, modest heroism, and tenderness that will stay with you forever.
4. Alone With You in the Ether by Olivie Blake
In the city of Chicago, at some point in time, Aldo Damiani and Charlotte Regan have a fortuitous encounter in the armoury of the Art Institute. Before they meet, Aldo is a doctoral student who copes with his destructive thoughts by engaging in compulsive computations about time travel, and Regan is a bipolar counterfeit artist who is currently participating in court-ordered counselling. Olivie Blake’s novel, Alone With You in the Ether, offers an insight into the nature of love, what it means to be ill, and how to face the fractures in oneself and yet love as if you are not broken.
5. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
It Ends with Us is a novel that is both daring and intensely personal, and it has become a Sunday Times bestseller. The love story of Lily, Ryle, and Atlas will break your heart and tell you an incredible tale of love. “A brave and heart-breaking novel that digs its claws into you and doesn’t let go, long after you’ve finished it”, as stated in a review written by best-selling author Anna Todd. Catch up with this book to enjoy the new sequel – It Starts with Us.
6. How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark is shortlisted for the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize 2022, a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize 2022, a finalist for the Ursula Le Guin Prize for Fiction 2022, and one of the Waterstones and Esquire Best Books of 2022. The story spans generations across the planet as humankind tries to rebuild after a climate catastrophe. Nagamatsu’s novel is an example of someone’s vivid imagination at work that defies categorisation. This story of unflinching optimism transcends genres to show us a world reborn via an infinite wellspring of love, resilience, and creativity.
7. The Italian Escape by Catherine Mangan
When Niamh Kelly’s sister must go on a business trip to the Italian coast, she tags along for the adventure that becomes The Italian Escape. While on her journey, she samples the region’s sparkling prosecco, mouth-watering cuisine, and stunning shores. Then Niamh decides she loves living here, so she creates a coffee business without knowing what she’s doing. Her new venture is in jeopardy after a family tragedy and a tough tourism season. Find out if she can make a go of it in the sun with the help of her new Italian friends and the possibility of love!
8. The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
The Island of Missing Trees is a novel by Elif Shafak that narrates a touching story about love, conflict, transcendence, the past, and eco-consciousness. The work is wonderfully written and carefully structured, and a moving read. This novel was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 and the Costa Novel Award 2021. The Financial Times described Shafak’s previous novel, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, as “A rich, sensual novel… that gives voice to the invisible, the untouchable, the abused and the damaged, weaving their painful songs into a thing of beauty.”
9. The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings
Megan Giddings’ The Women Could Fly investigates the constraints placed on women and the abilities they possess to defy and overcome such constraints. It is a gripping dystopian novel about an unbreakable bond between a young lady and her mysterious mother, set in a world where witches exist, and unmarried women are scrutinised. It is evocative of the works of Margaret Atwood, Shirley Jackson, and Octavia Butler.
10. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
This International No. 1 Bestselling phenomenon of TikTok fame, a love story in a dystopian world of They Both Die at the End, will surely give you goosebumps. Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio on September 5, shortly after midnight, to deliver the grim news that both will perish that day. The silver lining is that a smartphone app will help the two meet and become each other’s last friends. Rufus and Mateo will finally be reunited for one final, epic adventure: the chance to live a hundred years in one day. After reading it, don’t miss the chance to get its newly published prequel, The First to Die at the End.
11. Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
Meg Mason’s heart-wrenching novel Sorrow and Bliss begins with the breakdown of the protagonist Martha’s relationship with her husband Patrick. In reverse, we see how their marriage deteriorates, and Martha reaches a breaking point. This book is more than a story of a marriage; it sensitively follows Martha’s struggles with her mental health and its impact on her loved ones. This is the novel for you if you’re looking for an introspective, moving and thoughtful read.
12. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
This bestselling first instalment in the Before the Coffee Gets Cold saga will leave you spellbound. Hidden among the side streets of Tokyo is the Cafe Funiculi Funicula, where a ghost guards a chair that lets you travel in time. Yet, it’s not that simple. No matter what time you travel to, you can’t leave the chair, and you can’t change the present. And whatever you do, you must drink the coffee before it gets cold. Told across four intertwining short stories, Kawaguchi guides readers through moments of heartbreak and comfort in the Cafe Funiculi Funicula.
13. Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
In Xochitl Gonzalez’s remarkable debut novel, Olga Dies Dreaming, a stream of characters narrates the playground of politics in modern-day New York. A cast of characters, led by a wedding planner and her politician brother, explores the trials and tribulations of loving yourself and loving others in today’s power-obsessed culture. Set across the urban jungle of New York City and the hurricane-damaged landscape of Puerto Rico, the novel follows the characters as they fight for justice in a divided America.
14. The Book of Love by Fionnuala Kearney
Finally, if you’re looking for a romantic story this Valentine’s Day, look no further than Fionnuala Kearney’s phenomenal novel, The Book of Love. Her novel is a tale of enduring love between Erin and Dom. Told from both perspectives over twenty years, Kearney shows readers the realities and hardships that come with staying in love. Erin and Dom communicate through their book of love, a wedding gift that maps their relationship’s highs and lows. This novel is exceptional, full of honesty, emotion, and overwhelming love.
Treat yourself to a new read this Valentine’s Day with these top 14 books and get ready for a fantastic voyage to new worlds!
Discover More Books at Your Local Bookshop
Here’s a little Valentine’s Day bonus for you – browse these fantastic London bookshops to find more exceptional books and show a bookshop some love this February 14.
- Daunt Books – Marylebone High Street in London is home to the original Edwardian bookshop, Daunt Books, with its long oak galleries and beautiful skylights.
- Hatchards – Hatchards, founded by John Hatchard in 1797 in Piccadilly, claims to be the oldest bookshop in the centre of the United Kingdom.
- Hurlingham Books – Hurlingham Books has a reputation for being one of the oldest bookstores in South West London. In 1968, after feeling inspired to do so, business owner Ray Cole finally opened the bookshop.
- Word on the Water – A century-old Dutch barge that offers new and second-hand Dutch books on the canal. It provides both indoor and outdoor shelving for an extensive collection of books.
- Stanfords – Edward Stanford started the company in 1853. It is now the UK’s leading store for maps, travel books, and other travel supplies.
- Foster Books – First editions, beautiful bindings, and antiquarian books sold in a building dating back to the 18th century.
- Alice Through The Looking Glass – First edition books, rare illustrated editions, presents, fashion, and one-of-a-kind objects of desire are Alice Through The Looking Glass’ forte; they also stock a variety of other Alice memorabilia.
Discover more local bookshops near you with the Booksellers Association.
The London Book Fair returns to Olympia London this April – be part of the story this year and register today.
Look After Yourself This Valentine’s Day
Whether you discover a new world, delve into the past, or indulge in a love story, make sure to read what you love this February 14.