Happy Valentine’s Day, Savvy Readers!
Forget flowers, chocolate, and jewellery – the best Valentine’s Day present is a book! (But if you also want to send me any of those things, I won’t be upset).
We all know the cookie-cutter love story, and most of us can more or less recite them by heart: Person A meets Person B. Despite all odds, they fall in love. They have a minuscule fight about nothing. They magically overcome their differences and live happily ever after.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough stories about the man sweeping the innocent woman off her feet and making her fall in love with him. So, with that in mind, I’ve compiled this list of Valentine’s Day Reads for the Feminist.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill
I hesitate to call this a love story, because it’s so much more than that. Rose and Pierrot were raised in the same orphanage in the early twentieth century and became fast friends. Pierrot’s love for Rose only grows after they part ways. Rose is caught in a toxic relationship and uses her lover’s business contacts to her advantage. They don’t know what to make of this outspoken, professional, cheeky woman before them. Despite the countless tragedies that plague Rose’s life, she remains brave, strong, and deserving of the spotlight she so easily captures.
The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo
A story of two WWII nurses, this well-researched historical fiction novel is full of feminist feels. Best friends Jo and Kay are stationed in different countries and have vastly different experiences serving their homeland. Jo shows her strength and her courage as she tries desperately to hang on to her six patients after a bomb destroys their medical tent. Kay is trapped as a POW in a Japanese internment camp, trying to overcome her claustrophobia in close quarters. In the midst of all the chaos, Jo and Kay each find love and struggle to maintain their relationships in such a fragile time. Despite seemingly endless hardships, the great strength of these women carries them throughout the war and finally into their own lives
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
*Content warning* This book has been on my #TBR list since the day it came out. Alex’s sister is raped and murdered, when Alex kills her murderer, she realizes that there has always been something wrong with her, and that she might not be able to hide from the darkness any longer. Jack desperately wants to win Alex’s heart, and as the two grow closer Alex has to decide how much of herself she is willing to share. Not only does the mild romance in this book hit all the right feminist notes, McGinnis writes an unyielding critique of rape culture, slut-shaming, and sexual assault. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: #femalesarestrongashell
Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny
If you’re looking for a typical, happily-ever-after love story, you’ve come to the wrong place. Katherine Heiny’s beautifully honest debut is full of hilariously relatable short stories about women and love. These women are far from perfect, and their partners are about as flawed as they come. The bluntness and shocking reality of Single, Carefree, Mellow put so many of my own experiences into words and offered me reassurances I didn’t know I was looking for.
Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Now here’s a romance novel I can get behind! Alaina McGaren is on the run from the danger of her war-ridden homeland. She is forced to disguise herself as a boy so she can roam undetected… until she meets Cole Latimer, the enemy. Cole is forced to commit treason by keeping this suspected rebel spy’s identity a secret in order to protect her. Alaina is a strong, beautiful, independent woman who knows her worth.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler is many things: actress, producer, mother, Smart Girl… but did you know she’s also an author? This book is a collection of lists, memories, stories, and thoughts from your fav SNL episode. It’s hard to classify this book into a single genre. Amy briefly discusses her career in comedy, as well as a few short anecdotes about her life, but mostly she writes about how important it is to be a decent person. Yes Please is a book we desperately need right now.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Feeling a bit lost this Valentine’s Day? You’re not alone. Frighteningly beautiful, this book piece of art will make you feel heard and give insight into the uphill battles that Sylvia faced. This brilliant novel from one of my literary heroes (and girl crushes) is one of my all-time favourites. The Bell Jar is believed to be a semi-autobiographical book that has a lot to say about gender roles and the strength of women.
While some may think that feminism and Valentine’s Day don’t mix, these great titles show that the two actually go hand in hand.
What are your favourite feminist books to read on Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader using #SavvyValentine.
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