Eight Books To Be Your Valentine This Year

This Valentine’s Day, Assistant Arts & Living Editor Lauren Siegel ’27 and Staff Writer Mila Massaki Gomes ’27 recommend swoon-worthy romance books you’re sure to fall in love with.

Eight Books To Be Your Valentine This Year
Missing out on a romance of your own? Read these Valentine’s Day book recommendations to fill the void in your heart. Photo courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

No plans this Valentine’s day? Hop into bed with a good romance book instead, recommended to you by two of our Arts & Living writers.

“To Paradise”

Brought to you from the author of “A Little Life,” Hanya Yanagihara’s “To Paradise” is a three-story collection that meditates on love, responsibility, family, friendship, and happiness. Set in three very different settings — a reimagination of nineteenth-century New York where being queer is the norm, the tropical beaches of a postcolonial Hawaii, and an apocalyptic, pandemic-esque future — Yanagihara explores the lives and relationships of various characters across the span of the country and millennia, uniting them by nothing more than their shared first names, and potential familial ties. Yanagihara does not shy away from poking where it hurts and begging readers to question what matters most. Though different from her previous works, “To Paradise” never falls short of being an equally enthralling page-turner. Filled with passion, doubt, and pain, this novel is perfect if you want a story about raw human feelings and one’s duties regarding love.

“The Marriage Game”

If you’re craving something cute, funny, and unabashedly romantic this Valentine’s Day, prepare to fall in love with Sara Desai’s “The Marriage Game.” This charming novel follows Layla, a struggling entrepreneur who returns home to work in the office above her family’s Indian restaurant. When her father falls into a coma, Layla learns two things about him: He mistakenly promised the office to Sam, a grumpy CEO who wants peace and quiet more than anything, and he secretly made Layla an online dating profile to help her find a husband. As Layla and Sam battle over the office and struggle to coexist in close quarters, they also join forces to review the ten romantic candidates chosen by Layla’s father. With hilarious banter, adorkable mishaps, and swoonworthy chemistry between the two protagonists, this novel will definitely  put a smile on your face. Equally lovable for its heartwarming exploration of family and identity as its simmering romantic tension, “The Marriage Game” is a perfect, cozy V-day read.

“This is How You Lose the Time War”

In the ashes of a fallen world, a letter addressed to an enemy remains. It reads, “Burn before reading.” Between these words lies the seed of a story that transgresses all the laws of space and time. A single mission connecting the two women on either end of the letter: the duty to end each other’s lives and aid their side in winning more time for the “Universal War.” Challenged by wit and desire, opposing agents Blue and Red find a reason to fight in the fatal nature of their connection, not for the powers that set them against each other but for the love hidden between them. Co-authored by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, “This is How You Lose the Time War” is a collection of letters between Red and Blue, and how their love found a space in the vastness of the universe. Mystery, sci-fi, and romance at its finest, this tale of the attraction between forbidden lovers explores how when people are meant to be, no time or space can set them apart.

“The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue”

Is there anything worse than being forgotten? V.E. Schwab’s dazzling fantasy novel “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” takes on love, immortality, and belonging. The story centers around Addie, a young woman born in 1691 who is cursed to live forever but be forgotten by everyone she meets. After centuries of flitting invisibly from one place to another, Addie walks into a bookstore in present-day New York, where a young man named Henry remembers her name. In addition to exploring the complex, blossoming relationship between Addie and Henry, the novel poignantly considers what it means to be human, the importance of our connections to others, and the power of storytelling. Beautifully written and impossible to put down, this magical novel is perfect for lovers of history, philosophy, and romance that defies all odds.

“Swimming in the Dark”

Soul-crushing, real, and hopeful, “Swimming in the Dark” is Tomasz Jedrowski’s meditation on love in times of political instability and war. Set in 1980s Poland during the fall of the Communist party, this novel follows the young love between Ludwik and Janusz — how they navigate the secrecy and tenderness of a queer relationship while fulfilling their duties to their country and beliefs. As the pair discovers what it means to be in love, they remain at different ends of a complicated political system. Their story, intricate and filled with devotion, explores love between social classes, sexualities, and ideations. For the “Call Me By Your Name” fans and haters, “Swimming in the Dark” is critically acclaimed as a politically wiser and deeper version of the former. Combining the ardor of young queer love with the struggles of being part of a developing nation, Jedrowski’s work holds a mirror to our faces and shows us just how far (or not) we are willing to go in the name of love.

“Monster in the Middle”

A deeply emotional and beautifully crafted exploration of love, ancestry, and time, Tipanie Yanique’s “Monster in the Middle” will make you swoon and shed a tear. While the novel culminates in the relationship between Black American musician Fly and Caribbean science teacher Stela, it spans across decades and continents, highlighting the lives and loves of the protagonists’ parents. The novel reveals how romance between two individuals can be influenced by the stories and traumas of their ancestors, arguing that we must first understand where we come from to understand who we’re meant to be with. Full of captivating characters, masterful prose, and complex messages, this multigenerational love story reveals the power of human connections and their ability to transform over time and space. Engrossing until the very end, “Monster in the Middle” will make you believe in the power of love, and you will fall in love with the novel in turn.

“Never Let Me Go”

Any attempt to categorize “Never Let Me Go” is doomed to fail. Can something be everything at once? A romance, social critique, mystery, and sci-fi, “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro is truly a jack of all trades. The novel's mutability is one of its greatest assets, as it begins  at an idyllic boarding school setting but transitions to darker scenes of adult life. As protagonists Tommy, Ruth, and Kathy navigate the intricacies of teenage life after their eccentric childhood at an unusual boarding school, Hailsham, the trio learns what it’s like to fall in and out of love with each other and what it really means to care for someone. But however mundane their discoveries seem, there is nothing normal about the paths set for them. Inevitably heart-wrenching, “Never Let Me Go” is an ode to all the friends and lovers who give each other a reason to keep fighting.


While not necessarily a cheery romance, fans of mystery and gothic horror will fall in love with Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel “Rebecca.” The engrossing story depicts an unnamed young woman who marries an older, recent widower named Maxim de Winter. When Maxim takes the protagonist to live in his grand English mansion, she feels haunted by the memory of his late first wife, Rebecca. In the eerie estate she now calls home, the protagonist uncovers dark secrets about her new husband and his ex-wife, which escalates to a jaw-dropping plot twist that will leave readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. With elegant prose, masterful suspense, and compelling commentary that explores the complexity of human relationships, “Rebecca” will lovingly haunt you long after you close the book.