A year has gone by and we’re still stuck in this pandemic time loop. I’d say the pandemic doesn’t stop for holidays, but that’s simply not true. With Valentine’s Day coming up, there’s sure to be couples out and about -- going out to dinner and whatnot -- to celebrate the occasion. If you’re like me -— single and living in New York City where everything is closed (or you just choose to be safe and not go out) -— then you’ll probably be staying home for Valentine’s Day this year. And that’s fine. You can watch a romantic movie, order some takeout, have a self-care night or read a good romance.
Lucky for you, my bookshelves are brimming with just that. So, without further ado, here are the best romance books that you should enjoy on your V-Day night in.
1. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
I already know y’all are tired of hearing me talk about this book. Buuuut sorry not sorry. It’s perfect and you should read it. Why, you ask? Well, first of all, it’s a queer POC love story featuring a Latina POTUS. If that’s not a good enough reason to read it, it’s also beautifully written and features some of the most dynamic, human characters I’ve ever read about. They have flaws and make mistakes but you also still find yourself rooting for them. The novel also features the classic enemies-to-lovers trope that so many people (including myself) live for. I’m not going to say anything else except "read this shit."
2. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
I could seriously write a book about how much I love this book. It tells the story of Elio, who is living in Italy in the ‘80s with his parents when his dad’s new scholar, Oliver, comes and stays with them for the summer. I don’t want to go into too much detail or spoil anything, but the novel details how their love blooms and how Elio dives into a deep exploration of himself and his sexuality. Aciman writes in such a romantic, poetic way, but not in a way that causes the meaning to get lost under obscure figurative and flowery language. If you’re one of the (hopefully) few people that hasn’t read this, I beg you to give it a try.
3. Get a Life, Chloe Brown and Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
This is also one I’ve mentioned before, but it’s just too damn good not to. The book in each series follows a different sister (the third and last one to come next month) and their struggles with love as they each find themselves in different relationships. All of the sisters are Black, one of them is disabled, and one is queer, so not only are the books beautifully written, but they also feature good representation. They’re also so funny and the characters are dynamic, complex and relatable. It was so easy for me to see myself in Dani, the queer sister, in particular. Even though the third book in the trio hasn’t come out yet, I really recommend giving this series a go!
4. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Love comes in so many forms, and I think this novel is a really amazing example of love between friends. The book follows two best friends, Abby and Gretchen, and how they’ve grown up and become inseparable in the ‘80s. One night when they visit a beach with their friends, Gretchen goes missing for a few hours, and when she reappears, she’s a bit off. Over the next few weeks, her personality completely changes and she becomes evil and vindictive. It becomes very clear to Abby that something is wrong with Gretchen and she does everything (and I mean everything) to help her. Abby sacrifices so much to save her best friend and, through that, shows that soulmates really can be platonic.
5. One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
Let me just start off by saying this is hands-down one of the best books I have ever read. It tells the story of a plus-size fashion blogger named Bea, who becomes an internet sensation and gets invited to be the star of a reality show very similar to what we know as "The Bachelorette."
While dealing with dating multiple men, Bea also deals with public criticism after being on TV, as well as her own identity and struggles with love. At its heart though, this novel is about Bea’s love for and acceptance of herself. As a plus-sized woman myself, I found it very easy to relate to Bea, and I found myself in tears throughout my time reading this. I would highly recommend this, though, for anyone who’s struggled with loving themselves.