Recommendations 2/14/2021: Love Stories

It's Valentine's Day

Since I clued in that today is Valentine’s Day when I sat down to compose this newsletter (don’t tell Mrs. Biblioracle), you might be thinking that I am uninterested in stories of love, but this is not the case.

My (out of print) novel, The Funny Man, is essentially a book-length lament of a guy who screwed up the love he and his wife had for each other. The last story in my (still in print) collection, Tough Day for the Army, is titled “A Love Story,” and borrows some real-life details from the courtship and marriage of me and Mrs. Biblioracle. Heck, as I thumb through that book for the first time in a long time, most of the stories are love stories, some of them even with happy endings!

I also wrote about Erich Segal’s Love Story earlier this year, and let’s just say, stick with the movie.

Scratch underneath the surface, and just about any book you could name is about love in one way or another. In honor of the holiday, here are some of my favorite books that I associate with love stories.

For those looking for a tragic love story: Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

For those looking for a quietly emotionally complicated love story: Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

For those looking for a love story about people late in life: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf.

For those looking for a romantic comedy: Happy All the Time by Lori Colwin.

For those looking for a story about young love: Paper Towns by John Green

For those looking for a story about intense love: The Virgins by Pamela Erens

For those looking for an even more intense love story: My Education by Susan Choi

That’s a bit off the top of my head, so folks should free free to share some of their own favorite love stories in the comments if you’re so inclined.

This week’s column is about my internal debate over whether or not I should read A Gentleman in Moscow, an angle generated by you nice folks here. So I thank you for that.

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Books recommended in the Chicago Tribune in this week’s column:

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horowitz.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.

The Cider House Rules by John Irving.

This week’s bonus recommendations:

1. Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump
2. First Light by Charles Baxter
3. Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
4. This is Happiness by Niall Williams
5. A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Liz A. - Evanston, IL

For Liz a book that grapples with some philosophical conundrums through the imagined perspective of Albert Einstein, Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman.

1. Born a Crime: Stories from A South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
2. Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall
3. Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto
4. Even the Terrible Things Seem Beautiful to Me Now: The Best of Mary Schmich by Mary Schmich
5. The Street by Ann Petry

Beth S.  - Oak Park, IL. 

After last week’s lament at Blair Kamin leaving the Tribune, this lists reminds me that at least the paper still has Mary Schmich. For Beth, I’m recommending A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelly, a “forgotten” writer whose books have recently come back in print. (I wrote about this last year.)

1. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
2. What Can a Body Do? by Sara Hendren
3. Disappearing Earth by Julia Philips
4. My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland
5. Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World by Marcia Bjornerud

Carolyn N. - Portland, OR.

I know that the whole deal here is me recommending books to other people, but one of my favorite parts of this pastime is getting these lists and being introduced to books that I never would’ve heard of otherwise. In this case, I’ve already sent an email to my local indie asking them to order Timefulness for me. I better give Carolyn something very worthy to reciprocate. How about some Alice Munro? Hard to go wrong there: Dear Life.