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April 16, 2024

Book recommendations: Love is (still) in the air (kind of)

By YANA MULANI | February 21, 2024

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ARANTZA GARCIA / DESIGN AND LAYOUT EDITOR

Mulani provides a diverse range of book recommendations to keep the spirit of love alive after Valentine’s Day.

Just because the Day of Love™ has passed doesn’t mean you need to be missing Valentine’s Day. Here are some book recommendations, in no particular order, to remind you that love doesn’t have to come around just once a year! 

Before we get into it, I should preface: Some of these recommendations are customary to what you would expect to find on a romance “To Be Read,” and some are a little unusual. All that means is that there’s something here for everyone! Even if you’re not someone who tends to pick up a stereotypical romance, I implore you to carry on reading, because you might find something here that’s right up your alley.

1. Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion, by Jane Austen

I couldn’t write a romance book recommendations article without starting with the queen of romance herself, and the two that I’m nominating here are my favorites from the British novelist’s bibliography. If you’re looking for an enemies-to-lovers book, look no further than the classic Pride and Prejudice. Having popularized the trope, the novel is intentional in slowly building the relationship between Lizzy and Mr. Darcy, so you definitely won’t be left wondering where the “enemies” part fits in. On the other hand, if you’re seeking something more along the lines of exes-to-lovers, Persuasion is the perfect pick. Hold out for that final letter-writing scene… it’s worth it.

2. The Flatshare, by Beth O’Leary

There are a lot of romance books out there that just throw the protagonists together so that they’re suddenly in love. In The Flatshare, however, our couple doesn’t even meet until about halfway through the book, communicating instead via Post-It notes left around their flat (not only do they share a flat, they share a bed — yes, it’s the one-bed trope, but not in the way you think). Personally, I’m obsessed with this fresh take on a meet-cute. Even more than that, I really appreciated that Tiffy and Leon had their own lives going on; there was more to the book than just their relationship. I read this in one afternoon, and you can bet it had me giggling. 

3. The Broken Wings, by Khalil Gibran

My Goodreads account will prove that I reread this book at least once a year, if not more, just to feel something! This book is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Set at the turn of the 20th century in Beirut, Lebanon, The Broken Wings follows the tender courtship of a young man and his first love, the gentle and angelic Selma — though Selma has been promised to another man. Gibran’s writing is beautifully poetic and really makes you believe in true, honest and faithful love. I would really recommend reading this a few times (it’s quite short) to be able to pick up on Gibran’s lyricism. Disclaimer: Bring along your tissues.

4. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Süskind

I’ll be honest. This is the book that I had in mind when writing my introduction. Is it a little misleading to include this in a list of book recommendations titled “Love is (still) in the air”? Maybe. But that’s where the “(kind of)” comes in. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is set in 18th-century France and opens with the birth of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an orphan with an extraordinary sense of smell. In this novel, love translates into obsession, compulsion and mania. Grenouille’s only aim is to chase the next best scent, and he will do anything to bottle it up (literally), including murder. Keep your mind open while reading this; some of this is genuinely disgusting, but there’s a lot to be learned about the human psyche.

5. The Stationery Shop, by Marjan Kamali

This isn’t a typical romance book recommendation either. It is political, often lonely and painful and the couple does not end up together (this isn’t a spoiler). But, there is also sincere love here. Told from the perspective of an elderly Roya, the novel reminisces on her early romance with Bahman, whose courtship began in Mr. Fakhri’s stationery shop amid the political turmoil of 1953 Tehran. The leading question throughout this novel is: Why aren’t Roya and Bahman still together? The Stationary Shop explores themes of womanhood, revolution, family and society, all while reminding us that sometimes, though love wasn’t enough, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.


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