Hidden Bookshelf 12: The Book Lovers’ Guide to Valentine’s Day Reading
While I believe that every day is a celebration of all forms and manifestations of love, there’s something about falling in love with ‘love’ in February that’s just different. Everyone revels in the spirit of Valentine’s Day in ways special to them, but if you’re an avid reader like me you’d agree that nothing beats the feeling of losing yourself in one sweet tale of love after another; oh, the absolute joy!
Today, let’s talk about some of the books that I think couldn’t be better suited to the occasion and are sure to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling we all crave, especially during this time of year. Thank me later! 😉
DISCLAIMER: Before picking up any of the books mentioned in this article, make sure you have a look at the trigger warnings for each of them, which you could find on https://triggerwarningdatabase.com/.
- A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
When shy and subdued Steffi Brons, who’s selectively mute, crosses paths with Rhys Gold, the charming new student who happens to be deaf, it’s as if she’s found her kindred spirit. He understands the things she could never say, she gets him in a way no one else does. Bonding over their shared struggle and everything that makes them alike, Rhys and Steffi foster a love so great that it can neither be expressed, nor encompassed in words.
With more to offer than just a fluffy romance, A Quiet Kind of Thunder addresses sensitive topics like mental illness, parental attitudes to mental illness, disabilities and grief in a remarkably well-rounded manner. The narrative is quite engaging, brought to life by Barnard’s realistic, diverse characters. If you’re interested in an intensely emotional read and don’t mind shedding a tear or two then this is the book for you!
2. I Hate Everyone But You by Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn
Never one without the other, Ava and her best friend Gen must part ways and go to college in two different parts of the country. Being so far from each other is unbearable, but their endless exchange of emails and texts makes it a slight bit easier to handle. As they each navigate the challenges of teenage life – from falling in love and getting their hearts broken to making new friends and exploring their sexualities – would their bond become stronger than ever or would the distance drive them apart for good?
I Hate Everyone But You is fast-paced and easy to read. It talks about mental health, sexuality, polyamory etc. in a no-holds-barred way. Ava and Gen’s character arcs coincide to give rise to a beautiful friendship, and the modern epistolary format allows the reader to experience it much more intimately. It was refreshing to find a plot centred on platonic and not romantic love, so if you read romance novels regularly but would like to step out of your comfort zone, add this one to your TBR!
3. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Dimple Shah doesn’t want a HUSBAND, she wants to be independent and successful and to show the world what she’s capable of. Going to Stanford for a summer programme for web developers is supposed to be her first step to achieving that, but for Rishi Patel, it is an opportunity for him to woo his prospective future wife. When they chance on each other, a chaotic friendship ensues. He’s an old-school romantic, the complete opposite of her practical, headstrong self. There’s no way Dimple could ever fall for him…right?
The fact that When Dimple Met Rishi is full of clichés and tropes is made up for by how heartwarming it is; it’s the kind of book that once you start reading, you just cannot put down! It gives you an unbiased insight into South Asian culture, celebrating its richness while also highlighting its shortcomings. The main characters are both people of colour, and don’t we all love to see that kind of representation in YA? I recommend you pick it up if you’re looking for a fluffy meet-cute novel that you can devour in one sitting (the excellent #ownvoices rep is a bonus!)
4. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Sappy seventeen-year-old Molly has had quite a long list of boys she has loved. There’s been 26 of them so far, but the issue is, none of them have ever liked her back. It’s no surprise that she’s been lonely all her life, yet never as much as when her twin Cassie falls hopelessly in love and suddenly has no time for her. Cassie’s new girlfriend is sweet, but it’s her hipster friend Will that really catches Molly’s eye. If only she’d hit it off with him, how perfect would that be! Or would it? As the adorably dorky Reid enters the picture and things get complicated, Molly finds herself getting swept into the chaos of love, and everything that comes with it.
What I love about Becky Albertalli’s work is how diverse and relatable her characters are, and how well-informed she is when it comes to discussing social issues, as is evident in The Upside. It starts a conversation on underrepresented body types & mental health, and has a diverse set of characters you can’t help but adore. Molly’s self-discovery journey goes to show that self-love is the best kind of love in this laugh-out-loud contemporary, making it one of my favourite YA novels of all time!
I hope you enjoy reading some or all of these books this month and love them as much as I did. Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! <3
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