Love it or hate it, you can’t escape the Valentine’s Day blitz going on right now. Jewellery commercials bombard the airwaves, sappy love songs play on the radio, and walking into Wal-Mart is the visual equivalent of listening to the obsessive squealings of a love-struck pre-teen. But love is rarely the cutesy, cookie-cutter variety of romance exemplified by candy hearts, expensive chocolates and ridiculous plush toys. Love is conventionally unconventional, and here’s a book list that celebrates the messy, the difficult, the odd and the brutally real.
High-Water Mark by Nicole Dixon (Short Stories)
Ten sexy stories about woman from all walks of life who learn what they want from sex love and partnership. From new love to heartbreak, sexual experimentation to stuck-in-a-rut relationships, the contemporary women in these stories are portrayed with wit, honesty and rare perceptiveness.
My Other Woman by Pauline Carey (Fiction)
A Canadian actress whose need for independence make her mistrustful of marriage, finds love with three married men in the theatre world. The twist? She finds friendship in their wives, too. A unique and compelling look into the theatre world of the ’60s and ’70s.
Banana Kiss by Bonnie Rozanski (Fiction)
A psychiatric institution is not your typical setting for a romance novel, but Banana Kiss manages to bring out the humour in the situation. The story is told the eyes of Robin, who is hospitalized for schizophrenia. There, she falls in love with charming, lovelorn Derek, who battles daily manic depressive episodes. Sharply comic, Robin’s voice is one that you won’t soon forget.
The April Poems by Leon Rooke (Poetry)
This is not your typical book of love poetry. These poems, taking a variety of perspectives, work together as to build a fond remembrance of a dearly departed love. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Rooke paints a portrait of an inimitable woman and a marriage full of playfulness, domesticity and love.
Love, and all that jazz by Laurie Lewis (Memoir)
A true story that proves that love is not always enough, except when it is. Laurie Lewis’ memoir opens in 1950s New York City, where begins a new life with charming, Manhattan-cool Gary Lewis. But Gary’s life of art, jazz and sleepless, drug- and alcohol-fuelled celebration take their toll, and Laurie is forced to run, escaping to Toronto with her young daughter. There Laurie builds a career and a life, but never quite gives up on the love of her troubled husband.