Presenting 10 swoony, melty, make-you-fizz-like-Prosecco stories, to have and to hold, on this day forward, until you read the last page (but still cherish them forever, til death do you part.)
Valentine’s Day may not be your cup of heart-feathered cappuccino, but it’s a darn good excuse to read. For one thing, it’s deep winter and even me–a certifiable winter nut–is starting to be over the sound of crunching snow and the fact that the patio looks like it recently endured an avalanche. So what do bookish kindred spirits do when they are longing for spring? They read.
So no matter what your situation this Valentine’s season, it’s always a perfect time to crack open a good book and lose yourself to another world.
To my single friends–don’t think that just because you haven’t found your Jack Pearson yet, this blog is not for you. It really, totally is. May I suggest “The Music Shop” by Rachel Joyce, or “I Capture the Castle,” by “101 Dalmations” author Dodie Smith? Both of these feature love stories, true, but they are unconventional love stories, and will make you smile. Hey, reading helps, no matter your Facebook relationship status.
This Book Crush list features something old (“The Blue Castle” is like GELATO), something new (“By the Book” looks amazing, and was just released on February 6), something borrowed (a reload of “Little Women”, “When Harry Met Sally”, And “Persuasion”), and something blue (“Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” will provide some “tissue moments,” as “This is Us” fans call all the tearful twinklings).
Once again, I will be doing a contest, because contests are fun and I like fun. Peruse this list, pick your favorite, and tell us why you’d like to win it in the comments for a chance to win. In my December Winter Book Crush contest, Amalie won her pick: “Library at the Edge of the World”!
Which book would you pick if you won?
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
“This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met,” said J.K. Rowling
An aspiring young author named Cassandra lives in a crumbling castle with her ever-poorer family.”Castle” is utterly delicious and not widely known. It was introduced to me about nine or ten years ago by a dear friend, who said, “This book is like ice cream.” Cassandra is charismatic, J.K. is so right about that. And so are her family members, the two rich American boys who come to town (Darcy and Bingley, reversed?), and the castle itself, with its moat and ancient nooks and crannies. Treat yourself–you won’t be sorry.
By the Book by Julia Sonneborn
Isn’t this cover just a ripe morsel of a thing? The premise is even juicier: A reload of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion,” with, Booklist raves, “lots of appealing, cozy details, old college architecture, a romantic rival (who’s really more of a Wickham, but whatever)…lots and lots of libraries …” Sounds luscious to me.
This Love Story Will Self Destruct by Leslie Cohen
Another reload, but this one references a much newer story: “When Harry Met Sally.” “Meet Eve,” the blurb reads. “She’s a dreamer, a feeler, a careening well of sensitivities…a laugher, a crier, a quirky and quick-witted bleeding heart worrier.” Sweet Molasses! It’s like Leslie Cohen has drones inside my head! Even cooler: David Duchovny compares Cohen to a “young Nora Ephron.” ( Fair warning for my conservative readers–if this were a movie it would be rated R for language etc.)
The Spring Girls by Anna Todd
As a Cover Snob, I must gush about this convivial jacket featuring my favorite color combination–red and aqua! Even Jacob, the taciturn poet who works at my best-loved indie bookstore had to agree–this cover makes one woozy with joy (not that he used the words “woozy with joy”). Here is a modern retelling of “Little Women,” with Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy living on a military base with their mother while their dad serves in Iraq. I’m dying to find out how Anna Todd modernizes Teddy and Professor Bhaer, aren’t you?
The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Written by Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Blue Castle is one of literature’s most hidden gems. I honestly don’t know how I would choose if forced to pick between Anne and The Blue Castle, I love it so. Valancy Stirling is a 29-year-old “old maid” who has never had a man so much as waggle his eyebrows at her. Her overbearing family is driving her nuts, and then she gets the news that she’s dying. As a last-ditch effort at living life while she can, V flings herself at Barney, the town scalawag, and proposes marriage, wherein the two town misfits make off for an island in the Ontario woods. Their love story will give you all the flutters, I promise. If “I Capture the Castle” is ice cream, this delectable story is artisanal gelato.
P.S. From Paris by Marc Levy
“From Marc Levy, the most-read French author alive today, comes a modern-day love story between a famous actress hiding in Paris and a bestselling writer lying to himself. They knew their friendship was going to be complicated, but love–and the City of Lights–just might find a way.” Ooh la la–this sounds a bit like “Notting Hill,” but set in Paris.
The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
I cozied right up to the title of this book, translated from Spanish into English and written by a first-time novelist from Spain. I love the idea of someone awakening—what a powerful word—and Prudencia Prim? Isn’t that a character name to swoon over? Miss Prim moves to a tiny, old-fashioned village in Spain to become the private librarian of a mysterious, cultivated man who sits in a wing chair. “There are a large number of nods and literary references in the novel because literature plays a major role in the book,” says the author. “The characters in the book speak about Jane Austen, but also about Dostoyevsky, Dante, Virgil, Schiller, Racine and Petrarch, among others.” I picked this for my Book Crush list before I knew that The Man in the Wingchair is reportedly a mix of C.S. Lewis and Mr. Knightly from “Emma”!
Do people still say ‘yes, please?’ I just did.
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
This was one of my first reads of 2018, and I predict it will stand as one of my favorites of the year. Warm-hearted, quirky, British, set in the 1980’s—what exactly is not to like? The romance between two lost souls, one a purveyor of a music shop and one an accidental customer, is gentle, funny and captivating. You will cheer for shaggy, dented Frank and dear Ilse with her mysterious gloves and her green coat. I didn’t want to let them go when the book ended.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
One of my all-time favorite swoony reads, captivating the reader with the love and friendship between Henry Lee, a Chinese-American boy, and Keiko Okabe, a Japanese American girl, during the internment in World War II. “A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever,” raved Garth Stein, while Lisa See said Ford explores “the depths and longing of deep-heart love.” I wouldn’t be overstating it to say this story will sweep you away.
Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani
I will never forget the night I met Adriana Trigiani in New York City. We were both nominated for a 2012 Audie Award for Best Audiobook, “Personal Development”, a category wherein Oprah and Queen Latifah have won. I got the shock of my life to be nominated for “Money Secrets of the Amish,” against Sarah Brokaw, JANE FONDA, and Adriana, whom I absolutely revered then and now. Jane won, to no one’s surprise. I was just pinching myself that I was there at all, and the cocoa dusting on top of the cannoli was that Adriana was so kind and friendly to me, even offering to go out with me if I was still in town the next day (I had to fly out at the crack of dawn—BUMMER). That woman is a walking oven of warmth, you guys. And she infuses that same personal affection, cordiality, and humor into all her books, including “Kiss Carlo.” Now, isn’t that a book cover made for Valentine’s Day? Inside the covers, there’s pasta, banter, and crackling chemistry between the two leads, Nicky and Calla. You’ll be moonstruck, and also crave a bowl of rigatoni with chicken and ricotta really, really bad.
Tell me, which one of these books beguiles you like chocolate and red tulips?
And why? We all want to know WHY.
Spill all your innermost thoughts in the comments below and be eligible to win your favorite!
MORE BOOK CRUSHES: Premise Crush: 11 Falls Books That Had Me at Hello Winter Book Crush: Cozy Up to 10 Hot Cocoa Reads