Whether you are in a relationship, single, heartbroken, or giddy with happiness to be on your own, this is the time of year where the world won’t let you forget it. Shop windows fill up with hearts, adverts feature ruggedly handsome men picking out jewellery for their impossibly good looking girlfriends, and restaurants fill with couples stressfully trying to have a super romantic time. Ok sure, maybe some people on those dates are really having fun – but for those of us that are not loving the enforced mood lighting, it may be a good weekend to escape into a great book. Below are some recommendations from us, whether you hate (avoid!), love (marry!) or are kind of non-nonchalant (snog!) about Valentine’s day.
Avoid! For those who hate Valentine’s day
Get those loved-up hot people out of my face! We hear you, and we are here for you. For practical purposes, may we nudge How to Mend a Broken Heart quietly towards you along with some tissues, chocolates and the Gilmore Girls boxset? Written by psychotherapist Christine Webber, How to Mend a Broken Heart is an optimistic guide to healing and getting your life back on track. Also, in the interests of solidarity, may we offer Unfinished Business by Conrad Williams, the story of Mike, a successful literary agent at the top of his game, who has met the
woman of his dreams; until it all falls apart, and he becomes an unemployed recluse walking his frustrations out in the Black Mountains. This is a really interesting view of heartbreak from a male perspective that you don’t see all that often. If Mike can rebuild his life from the bottom up, so can you!
Marry! For those who love Valentine’s Day
When your colleague rolls their eyes and tells you (like they do every year about now) how Valentine’s Day was invented by card companies, and they’re not falling for that corporate rubbish, thank you very much, you nod and muster up a weary ‘tell me about it’ whilst surreptitiously closing the drawer with your handmade heart cards inside you spent all last night making to give to all of your friends and family. You want to be swept away by the romance and the flowers and the sparkling eyes, and you are tired of apologising for that. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good romance novel, and here at Bloomsbury Reader we have some real gems. Historical romances Watch the Wall, My Darling and The Tea Rose both feature love against all odds. Watch the Wall, My Darling by Jane Aiken Hodge follows a tempestuous love affair set across the backdrop of swashbuckling smugglers and crumbling Gothic castles. If you are ready or an epic journey, follow Fiona as she survives in the East End of Jack the Ripper, makes her fortune and fights for the man she loves in The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly.
Snog! For those who feel pretty indifferent about it:
So – you are the exception that proves the love or hate Marmite rule (sometimes you enjoy a little scrape of it on you toast – but let’s not go wild). You don’t hate Valentine’s Day, but you’re just not that bothered about it, and simply want a good read that isn’t solely focussed on star-crossed lovers. Escape into someone else’s life in one of our amazing biographies. Bloomsbury’s Outsider: A Life of David Garnett is a unique and fascinating insight into the controversial world of the Bloomsbury Group. Trained as a scientist, Garnett
worked as a novelist and wrote exquisite prose. Lady into Fox was made into a Rambert ballet and Aspects of Love into an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. In the First World War, he was a conscientious objector whereas in the Second he worked for British intelligence. A free love enthusiast, he nevertheless married. He loathed literary criticism but became a leading literary critic. Short listed for the James Tait Black prize 2016, this is the first biography of Garnett, (known as Bunny), by author Sarah Knights – who has had unprecedented access to Garnett’s papers – and goes beyond stereotype and myth to present a clear sighted account of this often contradictory figure.
Or perhaps you’d like to get away from the tangled love web that was the Bloomsbury Group? Dorothy Hodgkin: A Life by Georgina Ferry– shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize and the Marsh Biography Award – is an extraordinary account of an extraordinary life. She was renowned for her work on penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin. Fully engaged with the political and social currents of her time, she participated in some of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century: women’s education; the globalisation of science; the rise and fall of communism; and international peace movements.
Whatever it is you end up doing this weekend, we hope you have something perfect to read, whether you read it on the tube wearing your smartest suit and shiniest shoes bubbling with excitement on your way to a dinner date, or read it in the bath on a break from Lorelai Gilmore’s constant chatter and interesting outfit choices, we wish you a happy Valentine’s weekend!