Renée Zellweger as Dorothy Boyd in Jerry Maguire was on to something when she said her past three lovers all ran a distant second to a good book and a warm bath. Single, married, dating, whatever your relationship status may be, forget about the candlelit dinner and the obligatory display of PDA—and do romance by the book this Valentine’s Day.
We’ve selected a few titles based on different romantic preferences. Find yours and you’ve found your date. No “you had me at hello” necessary.
For the Hopeless Romantic
Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
Put down that snot-covered, tear-stained copy of Nicolas Sparks’s The Notebook and pick up Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, a New York Times Bestseller about a couple of outcasts who take on the world together, one bus ride at a time. Sure, it’s shelved in the YA section, but don’t let its genre and cutesy cover fool you: This one’s full of themes anyone who fell in love in high school can relate to.
For the Star-Crossed Lover
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
You’re an intimacy junkie, and nothing will keep you from your one true love. Same goes for this Nigerian couple in this multi-award-winning novel. With an ocean between them—Ifemelu in America navigating the turbulence of a post 9/11 landscape and Obinze unwelcome in London—it takes 15 years for the two to reunite and explore what they started all those years ago.
For the Old-Fashioned Lover
Atonement, by Ian McEwan
You’ve probably seen Joe Wright’s Oscar-winning film starring Keira Knightley in that ridic green satin gown mounted on a wall of books by her suitor played by James McAvoy, but have your read the novel on which it’s based? Then do so. Spanning several decades, Robbie and Cecelia’s historical romance is one for the ages.
For the Pessimistic Dater
How to Be Single, by Liz Tuccillo
He just dumped you for a yoga buff whose motivation to sweat through Bikram has nothing to do with the soul and everything to do with getting a hot bod? Yeah, Georgia feels your pain. She too was just dumped, which is why her BFFs are showing her the positives of single-lady life. From the cowriter of He’s Just Not That Into to You, Liz Tuccillo’s book will help you get over all your woes.
For the Man Eater
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith
“Over it.” Your words. And rather than squeeze into a body-con contraption, you’d rather eat. Something—anything. Which is why Seth Grahame-Smith’s parody mash-up of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and the zombie lore we continue to gorge on is just the read for you. The plot? It’s all there in the title.
For the Cynic by Way of Hookup Apps
Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari
Let’s face it: These days relationships are spawned out of a techno screen. Love at first sight now means love at first right swipe. It sucks. And actor/comedian Aziz Ansari agrees. So he wrote a highly scientific yet totally hilarious book about it. Read it and you’ll forget all about that last Tinder bender.