February Books of Loving, Loathing and Everything In Between

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By Kayla Roberts

As one of the most commercial-based holidays celebrated in the United States, Valentine’s Day has always been one to engulf the month of February, even when it comes to content consumed by readers.

While love is a subject that must be nurtured and acknowledged to prevent its neglect, it is also important to recognize that love comes in different forms and may be expressed in varying ways by different people.

Readers should take the time this February to not only immerse themselves in stories of love alike but also to explore different forms and expressions of love, ones that people may not have considered much before.

Here are a variety of book recommendations to pick up this upcoming February:

“Love and Gelato” by Jenna Evans Welch. Probably the most stereotypical for love on this list. This young adult romance is one that is overall a fun and lighthearted read.

The protagonist of the story, Lina, ventures to Italy with the intention of learning about her family’s past, yet she winds up learning much more about herself along the way. Throughout that summer in Tuscany, Lina gradually finds a sense of place as she makes friends that perhaps turn out to be more than friends.

Although often considered to be more of a summer read, “Love and Gelato” is a story that fills readers with warmth and appreciation for those they hold close, whether that be friends or family. The protagonist is one many young adult women will likely find themselves relating to in regards to experiencing the feeling of wandering to find one’s purpose.

Also on the more traditional side of what one envisions to read during the month of romance, “Today Tonight Tomorrow” by Rachel Lynn Solomon is another young adult romance read that would be an appropriate recommendation.

After competing with each other for the spot of valedictorian all senior year, Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have detested each other for the entirety of their academic careers. When paired together in the traditional senior class game that maps the city of Seattle, the two learn they have more in common with each other than they initially thought.

While the book is very much the epitome of a Buzzfeed-esque romance book, the playfulness of a plotline surrounded by an educational setting is an element that cannot be denied.

Somewhat of an outlier in this hypothetical February athenaeum, “The Berry Pickers” by Amanda Peters brings new meaning to the idea of love and the way one chooses to keep love in their life.

Following the tale of a Mi’kmaq brother reminiscing about his kidnapped sister and a young girl piecing together her lost identity in Maine of 1962, “The Berry Pickers” explores the incompleteness of life without love.

While the work of Peters carries a more serious tone than the previous two works, it adds a new perspective to the idea of how love will flourish only in a natural environment.

Steering towards the classics side of literature, Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” is often noted for its most well known quote of “whatever our souls are made out of, his and mine are the same.”

While the quote presents itself as romantic, those who know the context behind the plot know otherwise. Following the dynamic relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and her father’s adopted son Heathcliff, “Wuthering Heights” brings awareness to toxic and destructive relationships.

Despite not setting the most desired example of love, “Wuthering Heights” is pertinent in allowing one to realize that broken relationships do not just impact those doing the breaking, but a whole web of people intertwined in their lives as well. They often end up as collateral damage.

To be frank, this last recommendation is no fairytale romance, or even a romance at all. It is no wonder that the 1955 classic which addresses hebephilia, “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, was banned from multiple countries.

While the topics the novel brings about are uncomfortable and disturbing, the same can be said for many current day societal issues that are masked by blurred claims of affection, such as pedophilia.

The unsettling nature of “Lolita” is one way to thrust oneself back into the reality of flawed relationships and love after what some believe to be a month of overkill commercial affection. 

With this wide array of love stories from real to ideal to what really should not be considered love at all, it is in hope that readers take the initiative this February to push themselves out of their comfort zone and critically think about what love truly is.

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