These three books present a modern take on our age-old desire for love and companionship.
Ironically, the adage “no man is an island” became more pertinent than ever during the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. We saw how interconnected we really were, but also felt for ourselves how lonely we could get and how much we relied on fellow humans to get by.
This February, whether your heart goes ba-bump from social anxiety or from being in love, we recommend these three books that are a refreshing take on modern relationships.
These funny, strange and touching stories about existing alongside others – friends, lovers, family and even strangers – are a life-affirming celebration of the people and stories we choose to keep close to our hearts.
“Extraordinary love was not defined by the intensity with which you wanted someone, but by generosity and kindness and a deep sense of friendship.”
Mandy Len Catron is the author of the viral New York Times article To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This.
In it, she detailed how she replicated an experiment by psychologist Dr Arthur Aron, in which strangers asked each other 36 questions designed to create instant intimacy. Both experiments were a success – two of the participants from the original study got married to each other within months and Mandy fell in love with the person she tried it with too.
Her memoir, How to Fall in Love with Anyone, is a candid and vulnerable exploration of the myths we tell ourselves about attraction, romance and staying in love. She masterfully weaves fascinating research with her personal stories, providing a charming yet clear-eyed look at modern love.
“Juliet,” your mom says, “don’t you think this surprise mandatory arranged marriage is the most wonderful news??”
Fun fact – when Juliet cries “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”, she’s not forlornly asking where he is (as commonly misinterpreted), but asking “why must you be Romeo” (as in, a Montague, the sworn enemy of her family).
With this choose-your-own-adventure version by Ryan North, however, Romeo and Juliet could be anyone at all! Romeo could become a maid in the Capulet Castle and Juliet could end up as a spinster pirate. They could never cross paths with each other, meet countless painful, ridiculous deaths and even find their happily-ever-afters (alive!).
Choose which character you’d like to ‘play’ as in this hilariously interactive book, then see how one of the world’s most famous love stories would pan out with you in charge.
“Many people don’t marry and many don’t have children. Some people might not know their mother or father and a lot of people don’t have siblings. But any person who has lived for any length of time has had a friend.”
No, Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane is not related to the new house visiting rules that were recently announced by the government, but this bestselling novel – which made multiple ‘best books of the year’ lists – will undoubtedly inspire you to master the art of visiting.
The story follows May Attaway, a rather reserved person who prefers plants to people, as she attempts to reconnect with old friends who are leading lives very different from hers.
A quiet, thoughtful meditation on human connection, Rules for Visiting will have you laughing and crying as it celebrates friendship, love, family, and everything else that is important to us in life.
Till end of this February, check out the National Reading Movement chatbot, where you can get reads for what you need. For more book recommendations, follow the National Reading Movement Facebook or Instagram.
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