Although I’ve never been super gaga about Valentine’s Day, I will take ANY opportunity to talk about my favorite—or hopefully soon-to-be favorite—swoony smoochy books. So let’s jump right in!
For the Word-Loving Valentine: The Lover’s Dictionary, by David Levithan
It’s a love story. Told in ALPHABETICAL ORDER. It’s funny and sad and truthful and lovely and smart and fresh and warm. And, as I said in my full review, it’s a book that could leave you feeling blue…if you don’t remember to flip back to the entry for “epilogue.”
For the Myth-Loving Valentine: Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge
I haven’t read this one yet because every time I look at the cover, I think of the massive disappointment that was 666 Park Avenue (see what I mean?), but I really need to get over myself because according to the reviews I’ve read, it’s a little bit Cupid and Psyche and a little bit Beauty and the Beast. It sounds dark and compelling, atmospheric and moody, complex and (hopefully) enthralling. But if your Valentine prefers mythology retellings with a more highbrow reputation, there’s always C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, which is a retelling of the same myth.
For the Horror-Loving Valentine: Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Brenna Yovanoff is THE STUFF. Her books have it all: plotting, strong character development, romance, intellectual and emotional depth, humor, believable dialogue, surprises, and HOLY COW, the pages practically turn themselves. Paper Valentine is set during the height of summer, but is utterly chilling: The heroine is being haunted by the ghost of her best friend, and on top of that, there’s a killer stalking the young girls in town. Also, the love interest is SUPER-IRRESISTIBLY-CRUSHTASTICALLY-SWOONERIFFIC.
Speaking of rather dark fantasy with superswoony romantic leads, I feel that I should mention Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely—what with our tendency to focus on the NEW NEW NEW, I worry that younger readers miss out on a lot of older titles—which is about scary, violent, not-at-all human faeries, a girl who can see them but has to pretend that she can’t, and the dreamboat of a boy who not only adores her, but LIVES IN AN AWESOME TRAIN CAR (which, in addition to being rad, is also made of iron and is thus really super at keeping out the fae).
For the Profanity-Loving Valentine: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
After putting together this list—it got so long that this is only the first installment—I realized that I included not one, not two, but THREE books either written or co-written by David Levithan. What can I say? A) His books speak to me, probably because B) they are entirely awesome. Nick & Norah came out in 2006—going on 10 years ago—and it’s just as touching, just as sexy, just as hilariously profane, and just as relevant as it was when it first came out. It’s an up-all-night romance about two people connecting emotionally, intellectually and physically—the sparks, they fly!—but it’s also very much about music, about family and about friendship.
And now I want to pull all of these books in for a big hug. Happy early Valentine’s Day!
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while rewatching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.