Valentine’s Day plans (or lack thereof) got you down? Whether you’re in the mood for love or would prefer to take comfort in the lovelorn misery of others, we’ve got the perfect read to snuggle up with.
IT ENDED BADLY
The perfect Valentine’s Day read for: Anyone who’s still daydreaming about setting their ex’s car on fire.
Between the covers: Maybe the lovey-dovey mush of Valentine’s Day isn’t your bag. Maybe you’re a heartbroken mess. For you, there’s Jennifer Wright’s hilarious survey of 13 of the worst breakups in history. From Nero and Poppaea in Rome to Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, these are some truly horrible splits, but Wright’s commentary will have you crying from laughter.
Best advice for the lovelorn: Even if you’ve gone a little insane after a breakup, it’s OK, because you’ve (hopefully) never done anything as bad as the people in this book, and “heartbreak is almost never the defining moment of one’s life.”
Strangest tidbit: Russian empress Anna Ivanovna forced a prince to marry one of her maids and then locked them in an ice palace for their wedding night. His offense? Falling in love with the wrong woman.
Choice quote: “TV is great. Don’t let anyone tell you different. It is the only thing stopping wealthy, idle people from forcing underlings to dress up as chickens and pretend to lay eggs in their foyers—another real thing that happened.”
LOVE: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATTRACTION
The perfect Valentine’s Day read for: The shy or self-doubting dater who needs a confidence boost and practical strategies for finding the right companion.
Between the covers: For those who need a remedial course, this textbook-style guide has plenty of bright graphics and informative charts to make the lessons more palatable. Readers will learn how to think positively about their attributes and ditch bad habits. Once you’ve entered the dating phase, you’ll find out how to look your best, keep your cool and communicate successfully.
Best advice for the lovelorn: Being introverted shouldn’t prevent anyone from finding love. By learning to manage your shyness and feelings of inadequacy, you can become more comfortable dating.
Strangest tidbit: “Mental illness is usually not something to bring up in early dates.”
Choice quote: “Is blushing bad? Not at all. ‘Blushes are very useful for conveying apologies,’ says UK psychologist Ray Crozier. If your face is burning, try not to worry: it may actually defuse the situation by showing you didn’t mean any harm.”
YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T WRITE THAT
The perfect Valentine’s Day read for: Singles who filled out their online dating profile with generic descriptors like “fun-loving” and can’t seem to find their match.
Between the covers: The founder of ProfilePolish.com, an online dating profile makeover service, provides step-by-step instructions and strategies for presenting your best self online, from picking a username to writing a profile that sums up who you really are.
Best advice for the lovelorn: No more sweating the dreaded first impression, as online dating provides an opportunity to take control.
Strangest tidbit: A profile that mentions the zombie apocalypse is a deal-breaker. “Because it ain’t gonna happen.”
Choice quote: “[P]iss-poor profiles point to one thing: you’re copping out. You may say that you’re looking for a real relationship, but your refusal to put the necessary effort into crafting your profile shows a potential match exactly the opposite.”
Between the covers: It’s hard to forget, or really get over, your first celebrity crush. In this hilarious and poignant essay collection, popular writers such as Jodi Picoult recount their first taste of infatuation and dish about the obsessive and embarrassing ways they expressed their love.
Best advice for the lovelorn: “We worship perfection because we can’t have it,” wrote Fernando Pessoa. “If we had it, we would reject it.”
Strangest tidbit: Even a few video game characters (Laura Croft from “Tomb Raider” being one) make the list for first-crush material.
Sample quote: “It doesn’t matter that he’s a character in an epic film played by a famous movie star. Or that I’m a gawky thirteen-year-old with giant buckteeth and wads of scratchy toilet paper stuffed in my training bra. I believe that when we meet . . . my tiny breasts and big choppers will be of little consequence.”
121 FIRST DATES
The perfect Valentine’s Day read for: Anyone discouraged after spending too much time in the dismal depths of the dating world.
Between the covers: Bay Area author Wendy Newman, a “relationship expert” who went on the titular 121 first dates before meeting her partner, encourages the downtrodden to stay in the dating game. She offers (sometimes cringeworthy) personal anecdotes alongside practical advice and tips to help readers date efficiently and avoid the worst dating mistakes—and promises that it is possible to have an amazing first date with anyone.
Best advice for the lovelorn: “No matter how steamy he is, if he doesn’t think I’m hot, he’s no longer hot to me.”
Strangest tidbit: “Don’t go hiking on a first meet-and-greet date. He could be a recovering drug addict and felon who has been known to carry a hammer in his back pocket.”
Choice quote: “My way (or couple of ways) may not be The One True Way, if there is such a thing. If the shoe doesn’t fit for you, it ain’t your shoe. Don’t cram it on; this could be a long hike.”