Valentine’s Day: Could there be a more stressful holiday?
If you’re in a relationship, you’re trying to figure out the perfect gift, one that isn’t too cliché, like chocolate, but maybe is kind of clichéd, because chocolate is delicious, but is also the right tone for your relationship and partner, but also fits into your budget and matches the gift they got you, and let’s not get started on dinner. (Seriously, if you haven’t started on dinner plans yet, you’re too late. Even White Castle’s been making reservations since the middle of January.)
And if you’re NOT in a relationship? Ha. You can’t even eat your feelings after a day of watching co-workers get flower deliveries and puppy-grams—all the chocolate is sold out and you need to call ahead for sliders!
Luckily, while all the happy couples are out on the town, you can curl up at home with a good book. The chocolate is going to be 60% off tomorrow anyway…
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister
Traister puts hard evidence against the idea that everyone is married by 30. (Even when it feels that way, only 20% of women have tied the knot by then.) Furthermore, she explores the idea that marrying later—if at all—has real, positive social change. From the suffragist movement to 21st century politics, single women have led the charge across the gamut of issues.
WHAT TO READ WHEN YOU’VE CONVINCED YOURSELF ANY RELATIONSHIP IS BETTER THAN NO RELATIONSHIP:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Spoiler: Nick and Amy have capital-I, bold-letter Issues. You are better off alone.
It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History by Jennifer Ashley Wright
We all have terrible, awkward, uncomfortable, snotty-tear-stained breakups in our past. Sometimes, they involve screaming matches outside the good Denny’s at midnight and sometimes, they’re as quiet as a ghosting. No matter, they feel like the absolute most terrible thing ever. If you’re in the midst of one of these moments, take a crack at this book. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll thank all the lucky stars you didn’t fall for Norman Mailer.
It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single by Sara Eckel
If you’re still swiping right, even as friends and family get married and have kids, you may be wondering “What’s wrong with me?!” Short answer: nothing. Eckel takes some of the most common assumptions about why you might be single and breaks them down. You’re not single because you’re too old, too clingy, too fabulous. You’re single because you haven’t met the right person yet. Sure, it’s a little simplified (who hasn’t been on a date with someone who maybe actually is a little too immature?) but it’s a good reminder that to the one you’re meant for, you’re fine the way you are.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is almost as well-known for her books as for her hilarious TV comedies. In this one, she dishes on feeling like an imposter in her own success before asking herself why she felt like someone else deserved it more than her. She doesn’t come up with an answer. This is the perfect book for anyone waiting on someone else, whether it be a partner to spend a life with, a boss to finally see what a fantastic asset you are, a workout buddy to get you into shape. The real question is, why can’t the person you’ve been waiting for be you?
Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klineberg
Living by yourself has tons of upsides—no one eats your leftovers, you get to watch whatever you want, you can dance to Anna Nalick at 2 AM and no one cares that you’re being a little too on the nose about your song selection. Drawing on research and hundreds of in-depth interviews, Eric Klineberg gathers more scientific facts than those totally indisputable ones of mine. Among them, solo dwellers have rich social lives and are often deeply involved in their community. A fascinating read for anyone who has had to defend their home life.
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die edited by Steven Jay Schneider
Sure, you can spend yet another evening sprawled out binging on Friends for the seventeenth time. Or you can dive into some of the greatest films ever made. This book compiles some of the most iconic and important films from around the world, starting with 1902’s Le voyage dans la luna and stretching to nearly-current times (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Grand Budapest Hotel). You can go through their list or curate your own. Either way, you’ll be the star of your next party as you dazzle crowds with your Godard references.
Would You Rather: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out by Katie Heaney
When you’re a kid, you have this idea that there will come a magical day when you wake up and it’s all figured out. In reality, it’s a long, never-ending process. Katie Heaney first wrote Never Have I Ever, a memoir about being in her 20s without ever having been in a relationship. Cut to four years later and her latest book is about her coming to the realization at age 28 that all those fizzled dates with men were because she’s gay. Not everyone’s revelations are quite as large, but this is a great read for anyone who thinks they should have their lives set in stone.
Queer Eye: Love Yourself, Love Your Life by Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, Boby Berk, and Karamo Brown
There’s the old chestnut that you’ve got to be your own best friend. It can be difficult at times, but the Fab Five of Queer Eye are here to help. Just like the show, the book is divided into the various areas of your life, and the men gently guide you through how to make improvements without needlessly doing a total overhaul. It’s not a makeover, it’s a makebetter.
Happily Even After: A Guide to Getting Through (and Beyond) the Grief of Widowhood by Carole Brody Fleet
For those not in a relationship because they’re still dating, have just had a breakup, or are happily running solo, Valentine’s Day can be hard. For those whose partner has passed away, Valentine’s Day can be downright unbearably, heart-shatteringly awful. While no book can even come close to filling in the empty space of that loss, Happily Even After is a recommended start.