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The Best Books for Valentine’s Day Gifts This Year

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Looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for your book-loving beloved? Or maybe you’re celebrating Galentine’s Day, and you’re in search of something to get the party started. Sweet, silly, soulful or snarky, there’s a book for that. From love poetry to essays about romance, from humor and stories about dating to the science of desire, these are our picks for the best books to give as Valentine’s Day gifts this year. 

Let’s talk about love, dear reader. With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, it’s a necessary conversation. If you’re looking for books to put you in the mood for romance (or you’re seeking a tale of heartbreak that will trigger a good cry), we’ve got a list of our top picks here.

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But once you’re past that, it’s time to go shopping. Whether you’re making a romantic escape abroad, or considering a fancy dinner date, you still need an appropriate gift. Why not make it a book?

best love poetry books and best essays about romance for Valentine's Day gifts
The best love poetry books and essays about romance to give as Valentine’s Day gifts this year.

If you’re in, here are our picks for the best books to give as Valentine’s Day gifts this year.

best books to give and share as Valentine’s Day gifts

1.

Love Found: 50 Classic Poems of Love, Desire and Devotion by Jessica Strand and Leslie Jonath, with illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis. For many, poetry is the ultimate gift of love, so we begin this list with a collection of classic love poems. They capture the full spectrum of romance. From Emily Dickinson’s declaration that “were I with thee / wild nights should be / our luxury!” to Langston Hughes’s image of love as “a ripe plum / growing on a purple tree, “ this is a wonderful collection.

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2.

One Hundred Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Tapscott. Set against the backdrop of his beloved Isla Negra, Neruda wrote these poems for his adored wife, Matilde Urrutia de Neruda. The poet draws on the natural world around him, evoking the wind, the tides, the wildflowers and the scent of the sea in these beloved verses.

3.

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. “The word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet . . . we would all love better if we used it as a verb,” writes bell hooks in this brilliant retelling of her search for emotional connection. Arguing that pop culture’s obsession with fairy tale romance provides no wisdom for those who truly seek to love, she re-frames the definition of “true love” as sacred, redemptive, and healing for individuals and for a nation.

The best poetry books and essays about romance to give as Valentine's Day gifts this year
The best love poetry books to give as Valentine’s Day gifts this year. Courtesy Photos.

4.

Artists in Love: From Picasso & Gilot to Christo & Jeanne-Claude, A Century of Creative and Romantic Partnerships by Veronica Kavass. delves into the passionate and creative underpinnings of the art world’s most provocative romances. From Picasso and Francoise Gilot, to Lee Miler and Man Ray, to Saul Steinberg and Hedda Sterne, this is a fascinating and ultimately inspiring glimpse into the tempestuous relationships between celebrated artists throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

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5.

You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time: Rules for Couples by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast. An illustrated collection of love and relationship advice from New Yorker writer Patricia Marx, with illustrations from New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. Nuggets of advice include: If you must breathe, don’t breathe so loudly. It is easier to stay inside and wait for the snow to melt than to fight about who should shovel. 

6.

Love Poems for People with Children  and Love Poems for Married People by John Kenney. Both of these charming and funny collections from the Thurber-prize winning writer make perfect gifts from one partner to another. In the gentlest possible way, Kenney nails the realities of marriage and parenthood – read it with your beloved, and share a good laugh.

best love poetry books
The best love poetry books and essays about romance to give as Valentine’s Day gifts this year.

7.

She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women by Ana Sampson. 150 bold, brave and beautiful poems by women – from classic, well loved poets to innovative and bold modern voices including Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Emily Bronte, Margaret Atwood and Dorothy Parker.

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8.

New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies of Love, Lust, and Equal Pay by Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor and Carrie Wittmer. Imagine a world where all erotica was written by feminists: Their daydreams include equal pay, a gender-balanced Congress, and Tom Hardy arriving at their doorstep to deliver a fresh case of LaCroix every week. From a retelling of Adam and Eve to tales of respectful Tinder dates, definitively answers the question “What do women really want?” with stories of power, equality, and an immortal Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

9.

Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun presents a candid and loving portrait of the author’s own marriage, inviting us into a conversation about the reality of modern love and marriage. Which, at least in her view, is neither the happy ending of a love story nor a relic doomed to end in divorce. But instead, the beginning of a challenging new chapter – of which “the first twenty years are the hardest.”

The best love poetry books and essays about romance to give as Valentine’s Day gifts this year.

10.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. In this memoir, the celebrated novelist shares an honest and clear picture of her life, and how the commitments she has made have shaped her. Beginning with her childhood, this is the story of her disastrous early marriage, and the subsequent happy one. It’s not just about romantic love, though – Patchett covers a multitude of topics, including relationships with family and friends; the hard work and joy of writing; and even the thrill of opening a bookstore.

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11.

Passing: A Memoir of Love and Death by Michael Korda is the story of a great love, told in rapturous prose by a husband who has lost his beloved wife. The author braids the heroic story of his wife’s life with the heartrending details of their final year together. Despite its sadness, this is also a lovely memoir about a life, and a marriage, well lived.

12.

How to Be Loved by Eva Hagberg Fisher is the story of the harrowing fallout after the rupture of an undiscovered mass in the author’s brain at age 30. It’s a thank-you as well to the people — a few friends in particular — who helped bring her back to herself. 

The best books to give as Valentine’s Day gifts this year. Courtesy Photos.

13.

The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs, and the Search for the Ultimate Equation by Hannah Fry. A mathematician pulls back the curtain and reveals the hidden patterns behind the rituals of love. Proving that mathematics is a crucial tool for understanding love. Who knew?

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14.

In I Wrote This Book Because I Love You: Essays by Tim Kreider, the writer for The New York Times focuses on his relationships with women – romantic, platonic, and the murky in-between, exploring everything from his valued female friendships (including one which landed him on a circus train bound for Mexico) to his difficulty finding lasting love. Seeking to understand his commitment issues, he even tracks down the John Hopkins psychologist who tested him for a groundbreaking study on attachment when he was a toddler.

15.

Modern Love, Revised and Updated: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption, edited by Daniel Jones, is a compilation of the best and most provocative essays about romance and love from the past fifteen years of the New York Times “Modern Love” column.

The best love poetry books and essays about romance to give as Valentine's Day gifts
The best love poetry books and essays about romance to give as Valentine’s Day gifts this year.

16.

This Modern Love edited by Will Darbyshire is a crowd-sourced compilation of letters, stories and artwork that collectively convey the depth and richness of modern romance. As the publisher notes: “funny, dark, confessional, awkward, comforting, and uplifting, this is a portrait of individual desires, fantasies, resentments, and fears that reminds us that, whether we’re in or out of love, we’re not alone.”

17.

The Jane Austen Best Works collection from Juniper Books ($225) would make a stylish and romantic gift. Who better to curl up and read on Valentine’s Day than the master of relationships between women of spirit and their beaus? The gift set comes in pink or ivory white book covers.

18.

Would You Rather .  . . The Love and Romance Edition. You think you know your partner – but do you? This book/conversation game will give you both the chance to share. Starting with tamer areas, like “Would you rather… Have your partner cook your favorite dinner, or surprise you by cleaning your car?” the questions explore meaningful and intimate areas that are sure to deepen your bond – and that will probably also give you a good laugh or two.

best books to give as gifts for Valentine's Day
The best books and essays about romance to give and share on Valentine’s Day. Courtesy Photos.

best books to give as Valentine’s Day gifts 

These are our picks for the best books to give and to share as Valentine’s Day gifts this year. Celebrations of love, both romantic and platonic, that may inspire us all to honor and strengthen those bonds in our own lives. Happy Valentine’s – and Galentine’s – Day!

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Join our community! For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter. 

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