Valentine's Day Reads for People Who Hate Love


It's Valentines Day at the end of this week! And for the first time in four years I actually have a Valentine! Yay for romantic validation! It won't be a big thing as we both have work but we're swapping presents and sarcastic cards and I'm making him dinner so provided I don't land us both in A&E with food poisoning it should be a good day. 

I'll be honest I'm not a really big fan of 'romance' books. I find the genre can be too soppy and mushy, completely humourless or unrealistic, or sometimes what's shown as love in the narrative actually translates to creepy, scary, 'what the fuck are you doing in my bedroom watching me sleep ew ew ew gtfo!'

Nevertheless, there are a few books that I would count as 'love stories' that I thoroughly enjoyed for one reason or another, so if you're a grumpy little cynic like me, give some of these a try and maybe you'll find yourself warming to the romance genre.

Maurice by E. M. Forster - Follows a man in the dawn of the twentieth century, coming to terms with his attraction to men. Forster's narrative deals with the pain of feeling like the only way you can experience love is one for which society will call you sick and put you in prison. This was the classic that I read that made me realise that I could love classics. It's beautiful and emotional and has stayed with me for years.

A Simple Story by Elizabeth Inchbald - From something tragically beautiful to something fuzzy and hilarious. A sombre Catholic Priest suddenly becomes guardian to his old friend's daughter. The clash between the quiet studious Dorriforth and the witty, outgoing Miss Milner is hilarious and the characters surrounding them rolling their eyes at the inability of these two idiots to just get together already for god's sake is just the best thing. Miss Milner is also a treasure, far from the fragile, delicate pot plants you usually get in this period, Inchbald gives Miss Milner a sex drive, a personality and a razor sharp wit. There's also a second half of the book that completely changes and is just as fantastic as the first. Elizabeth Inchbald was one of Austen's favourite authors and if you find a lot of classics very dry and dull, this may change your mind. 

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm - Something a little different, this is actually a non fiction book discussing love in all it's forms. From instinctive motherly love to religious devotion, love shown as innocent hand holding all the way to a BDSM relationship. It's incredibly interesting and engaging, and my mama bought my copy at a used bookshop, and it's full of little scribbles, bits of paper and a note in the front saying 'Much love, for Christmas 1971, S' and I love that the book has been aprt of someone else's love story already!

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart
- Smart's landmark work reads almost like an epic poem. It records the tragic true story of Smart's love affair with poet George Barker. It's a story told almost entirely in emotional waves that come crashing through the narrative. But far from soppy and insipid, Smart's writing is searing and powerful, presenting the sheer force of love in all it's stark reality.

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola - Zola's masterpiece makes my list for presenting love in it's most dark, twisted nature. The eponymous heroine is trapped in an unhappy marriage with her sickly cousin. She finds freedom in a turbulent love affair, but the passion of the lovers pulls them down a dark path. Therese Raquin is a dingy, gripping novel about how gnarly and destructive love can be. Perfect for if you really want some anti-valentines sentiment.

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
- Finally, one of my favourite love stories of all time. Daphne Du Maurier is known for Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, two very dark gothic stories, but Frenchman's Creek is bawdy, silly and equally excellent. Set in the 1600's, Lady Dona has always been 'one of the boys', but secretly longs for a life of love and passion. She runs away to Cornwall and...wait for it... begins a passionate romance with a sexy French pirate who is hiding out in caves near her summer home. Like what the actual fuck? Frenchman's Creek is RIDICULOUS and, I imagine, if you had come off the back of the rest of her works and were looking for something of the same literary quality as Rebecca then you might be disappointed. But if you take it for what it is, which is silly, trashy, period drama pulp then it's an absolute joy. Frenchman's Creek had me rolling around by bed squealing with laughter at the sheer perfection of the whole thing, and it's something I am saving to reread when I really need my spirits lifting.


So these are my Valentine's Day reads. If you've read any let me know what you thought and feel free to leave your own recommendations!

Thank you for reading,




  1. This post was really funny! Im not a big fan of straight up romance books either they kind of have to be other genres with a romance story included!

    Sundays and Ink |

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed :)


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