Hi guys! It’s February and getting pretty close to Valetine’s Day, so this is my obligatory February post about love. I do love a good romance novel, but it’s not favorite genre. So I thought I’d share some slightly more unusual love stories with you guys instead, some platonic, some quirky, some difficult – all beautiful and memorable in their own way.
Crush by Richard Siken
“You’re trying not to tell him you love him, and you’re trying to choke down the feeling, and you’re trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you’ve discovered something you don’t even have a name for.”
These are love poems that will destroy you. Broken, raw and brutal – but so damn beautiful. I always come back to this one, and it always gives me something new.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
“Oh, I will be cruel to you, Marya Morevna. It will stop your breath, how cruel I can be… I am a demanding creature. I am selfish and cruel and extremely unreasonable. But I am your servant. When you starve I will feed you; when you are sick I will tend you. I crawl at your feet; for before your love, your kisses, I am debased. For you alone I will be weak.”
Deathless is a Russian fairy-tale retelling, or perhaps I should say fairy-tale deconstruction, because Valente doesn’t so much retell tales as take them apart, piece by piece – just to see what makes them work. Marya Morvena and Koschei the Deathless’s relationship may be a strange and complicated one; made up of dark desires, power struggles, secrets and betrayal – but it’s still the greatest love story I’ve ever read.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
“Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we’d still have something like this. That it turns out we’re not finished with changes and excitements. And not all dried up in body and spirit.”
Addie Moore’s husband died years ago, so did Louis Waters’ wife. Addie and Louis are neighbors, nothing more. Until the evening Addie knocks on Louis’s door and asks him if he’d consider coming to her house sometimes to sleep with her. He agrees and it’s the start of a beautiful love story that reminds us all that it’s never too late to take a chance.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
“I imagined myself as Frida to Diego, both muse and maker. I dreamed of meeting an artist to love and support and work with side by side.”
Patti Smith’s memoir about her friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe might not be a romance – but it still a beautiful and intimate love story, with the backdrop of late sixties and seventies New York City and the iconic Chelsea Hotel.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
What if Romeo and Juliet were soldiers in an intergalactic war?
This is the first volume in graphic novel series about two soldiers from opposite sides of a never ending galactic war who fall in love, run away and have a baby. Their love is seen as treason and their child an abomination. Soon they’re being hunted not only by their own armies, but several other forces with their own reasons for wanting to find them and their child. But despite all the challenges they face – their love remains strong.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
“Every time a couple moves they begin, if their attention is still drawn to one another, to see each other differently, for personalities are not a single immutable color, like white or blue, but rather illuminated screens, and the shades we reflect depend much on what is around us.”
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war two young people meet and fall in love. But there’s no future for them where they are, so when they hear the rumors of doors that transport people to other places, they take a chance and go through one. Their love story is, in a word, bittersweet.
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
Those mornings when we kiss and surrender for an hour before we say a single word.”
This is the story of a relationship told in the format of a dictionary, and I promise that works a lot better than you’d think. It’s been years since I read this book and I still remember entire passages from it by heart.
Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
I bet you’ve never read a romance where the heroine’s telepathic connection with an alien squid is the biggest obstacle before.
Fluency is the first book in a sci-fi series, about a team of scientist from earth who are sent to explore an alien vessel. It’s fast-paced and action-packed, but light on the science and heavy on the romance, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It usually isn’t mine either – but the romance in this is a slow-burn and so soft, even though the hero is so grouchy and I guess I’m trash for that.
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
“Even a cracked pot has a lid that fits.”
If you’re looking for an understated and offbeat kind of love story – this strange little Japanese book is perfect for you. It’s about a woman who meets her former Japanse teacher in a sake bar. They strike up a conversation – and what starts as a tentative friendship slowly blooms into an awkward, but sweet love affair.
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
“And we danced, on the brink of an unknown future, to an echo from a vanished past.”
In Wyndham’s dystopian classic most of earth’s population has been blinded by a cosmic event and are now being stalked by walking carnivorous plants. The hero and heroine, two of the few people who can still see, find each other in a London ravaged by mobs and join forces. Romance plots in dystopian books can sometimes seem unnecessary and forced, but the love story in The Day of the Triffids beautiful, believable and a vital part of the characters fight to live, not just survive.
Have you read any of these books? Do they sound like something you’d like? Please tell me what your favorite love-stories are – especially if they’re a little out of the ordinary!