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Booksellers recommend 20 books to read this Valentine’s Day

By February 14, 2023No Comments8 min read

After successfully adding many new books to my TBR after our holiday roundup of bookseller recommendations, we decided to return with more bookseller (and bookselling adjacent!) recommendations for Valentine’s Day! So get your wallets and library hold lists ready and prepare to meet some of your new favorite books!

Billie Bloebaum, Founder of Bookstore Romance Day recommends:

Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise: Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me is the first Romance novel I read with a heroine who was both curvy and child-free by choice and in Cal, a hero who loved her not because of or in spite of either of those things, but just loved her. It was first published in 2004 and has some aspects that today’s readers may have issues with, but its wit and charm should be enough for most readers to give them a pass–at least until after the HEA. (It also has donuts and a really great cat named Elvis.)

Leah Grover, Scrawl Books (Reston, VA) recommends:

The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger: Gail Carriger’s Parasolverse books have so much going on—Dirigibles! High society! Vampires! Werewolves! Espionage! Romance!—but somehow they just work. Perfect for fans of Jane Austen and Sarah J. Maas alike, these books will have you howling a fanning yourself in equal measure. (There are three series in this universe, but you can start anywhere you like!)

Jill Naylor, novel. (Memphis, TN) recommends:

Sorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni: You’ll want to attend Explore Armenia after reading this.  If not for the men Nar’s mom wants you to hunt down and date, at least for the food, (oh the food!), and the chance encounters with mysterious Erebuni.  Funny, warm, sweet and definitely a great way to usher in Valentine’s Day!  

Amy Dang, The Ripped Bodice (Culver City, CA) recommends:

The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan: A simply charming and sweet story about two childhood sweethearts who reunite after a few years and find love. Chloe Fong has her life planned out, she lives by her lists, and has no time for nonsense… except for the one tiny exception of her childhood sweetheart, Jeremy Wentworth. Chloe is busy helping her father get revenge, but Jeremy is here to not only help her but to prove to her that he is here to stay and that he wants to be a part of her life permanently. A delightful heartwarming read that will have you swooning!

Pig City Books (Lexington, NC) recommends:

First Bride to Fall by Ginny Baird: Nell has always been the most reliable between her sisters. When it comes down to marrying the billionaire to save the family business, Nell and her sisters make a pact that within a month, the sister who isn’t engaged to be married has to follow through. Despite what her sisters think, Nell is determined that she will not save the day, it’s her chance for happiness. And what brings her the most happiness? Grant. The handsome outdoorsman whom she has been crushing on since high school. Will she be able to escape the marriage of convenience and finally be with the man of her dreams? Or will she go too far and her plan will come tumbling down the mountain?

Michelle Haring, Cupboard Maker Books (Enola, PA) recommends:

Things We Hide From The Light by Lucy Score: This wonderful romance is about two people who seem so different from each other when they meet but fit together perfectly by the end of the book. Naomi arrives in a small town to help her evil twin and encounters Knox, a grumpy local. The town of Knockemout leaps off the page into readers’ hearts. This is a fabulous book for Valentine’s Day because the second book, Things We Hide From the Light debuts on February 21st.

Marissa Backlin, Love’s Sweet Arrow (Tinley Park, IL) recommends:

The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson: The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks is fiction with a strong romantic element. Maggie is covering her best friend’s maternity leave at the bookstore and immediately runs into trouble with the head of the Bell Society who doesn’t want Cobblestone Books to sell any books after 1968. Maggie starts to run a secret shop of romances, horror, mystery novels, etc all published after Edward Bell’s (the town’s namesake) death and starts hosting special, secret author events. But she is falling for Malcolm, the man in charge of making sure she doesn’t break the rules and the town may have more secrets. And her friend’s maternity leave isn’t forever. Maggie has to figure out how to keep Cobblestone Books in her friend’s possession and out of the Bell Society’s hands and keep it financially viable for her friend.

Booksellers at Back Cove Books (Portland, ME) recommend:

Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley: Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley is one of those books that is better to not know a lot about before you dive in. All you need to know is that our main character, Lola, starts running into ALL of her exes in the same few block radius in New York City. This book was exactly the commentary I needed on dating in the age of social media. It made me laugh, it made me think, and ultimately I couldn’t put this book down. —Izzy Zox (she/her)

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff: This short book is not a romance novel, instead it captures the friendship that can result from a shared passion for a particular activity, in this case sourcing and reading books. The book is based on a series of actual letters written between a used-book seller from London and a writer from New York City. I find the book to be very uplifting, and even though I have read it many times, it always leaves me smiling. —Susan Meibaum (she/her)

Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck: A non-fiction travel book that highlights the love a man has for his dog and his Country. In 1960, John Steinbeck drove the roads of America in a converted truck with his dog, Charley, a French Poodle. He drives from the East to the West Coast with his faithful and loving companion. They have adventures along the way and meet interesting people. —Susan Meibaum (she/her)

Emma by Jane Austen: I am a huge fan of Jane Austen and love all of her books. I find them to be witty and insightful, painting a very vivid picture of the time and customs from when they were written. This is a love story, but in the way of Jane Austen the hero and heroine have to learn a great deal about themselves before they are able to commit to each other. Emma sees herself as a matchmaker, and there are a number of romantic subplots.—Susan Meibaum (she/her)

I Wrote This Book Because I Love You by Tim Kreider: This collection of essays reads like your best friend is saddled up next to you at the bar relaying his hilarious, sincere tales and misadventures in love. All kinds of relationships are examined here– romantic, platonic, as well as one with his incontinent cat, who may have been the love of his life.

I’ve turned back to this collection a few times since it came out in 2018– for entertainment (I’ve been known to corner people and force them to listen to Kreider’s reading of his essay, “The Feast of Pain,”) but also for comfort. Beneath the wry humor and often absurd circumstances of these essays, the genuine tenderness for all of us out there just doing our best. If I’m navigating any choppy seas, I look to this book not as my guide, but as my companion aboard. —Rose Heithoff (she/her)

“Call Me By Your Name” by Andre Aciman: Young love in the middle of summer set in Northern Italy. What more could you ask for? This is such a beautifully written love story that balances immense passion and tender intimacy in a way that makes my heart ache every time I read it. I was apathetic towards the whole love idea before I read this and it completely changed how I view love and romance. Everyone deserves intimacy like Elio and Oliver’s. —Emily Polk (she/her)

Paul Swydan, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore (Acton, MA) recommends:

Not Like The Movies by Kerry Winfrey: Like its predecessor, Not Like the Movies is a pure delight. After stealing the spotlight several times in Waiting for Tom Hanks, Chloe Sanderson proves to be a wonderful lead character, and author Kerry Winfrey pushes all the right buttons in this romantic comedy. I can’t wait for Kerry’s next book!

Sarah Bruns-Putnam, Bookish (Fort Smith, AR) recommends:

Dickens and Prince by Nick Hornby:This is the pop culture love story you didn’t know you needed. Most readers wouldn’t lump the Victorian author and 20th century pop icon in the same category, but Hornby does what he does best, and illustrates the ways in which our culture was shaped by their art, their tragedies, and their ridiculous ability to outwork everyone around them. You’ll fall in love with both artists all over again.

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff: If you love a good anti-valentine read, Shroff’s debut is the perfect read. When Greeta’s husband disappeared, she immediately got a reputation for killing him. She used those rumors to her advantage for a while, but soon, other wives wanted help “getting rid of their nose rings.” This is funny and subtly profound about issues about class and gender. Mostly though, it will be the best galantine story you’ll read this year.

Christina Rosso-Schneider, Co-Owner A Novel Idea on Passyunk recommends:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: The House In The Cerulean Sea is a hug in the form of a book. It features a queer romance, chosen family, and the beauty of being oneself. This fantasy novel will make you laugh and cry and will show you just how much light exists in the shadows. It’s a perfect book to read around Valentine’s Day, when you are thinking about your love for others and yourself.

Featured image courtesy of Entangled: Amara, Berkley, St. Martins Press, and Orbit.

Brianna Robinson

Brianna Robinson is a book publicist and Sarah Lawrence College alum. She lives in New York with too many books and two enthusiastic dachshunds. You can find her on twitter @blrobins2.

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