For the longest time I hated the smell of cigarettes—probably almost as much as most people hate Valentine’s Day. But then I went backpacking through Europe and stayed with a handful of wonderful people—all who smoked cigarettes. And almost overnight cigarette smoke became synonymous with good times and great people. I’ve found that you can change your relationship with just about anything—and anyone—by a simple shift in perspective.
I, for one, have always been a sucker for Valentine’s Day. Any excuse for a cocktail party! Plus, a new romantic comedy usually comes out in February 14th so there’s that. But most people don’t look at it this way. I recently had a friend tell me that she will love Valentine’s Day once she’s in a relationship. And another that she will be happy next weekend, once she’s done with a huge project at work. Yet another, once summer is here.
As a society we postpone celebrating until conditions in our lives are just right. We believe there is a better phase out there, when really, there are only good moments and not-so-good moments. My married friends who once hated Valentine’s Day when they were single because they had “no one to celebrate with,” now worry that their partner won’t meet their expectations with the perfect romantic gesture. So, you see, in the next phase you’ll just find new problems. Unless you choose to be someone who celebrates regardless of what your life looks like.
There is no need to love this holiday. I get that it’s commercial. But perhaps try viewing it as a day to practice having a love affair with your life. Practice wishing days would last forever instead of wishing for the next day to arrive. Because what are we rushing to, really, except to the end? And who wants to get to the end of their story? Or any good story for that matter? All of my favorites I like to read and watch as slowly as I can so that my journey with the characters lasts. I’ve listed several below that I recommend checking out if you want to get reacquainted with this feeling.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you celebrate this February 14th and every day after.
First Comes Love, Emily Giffin:
Giffin was the author who made me want to write women’s fiction–hence why I’ve featured her latest book all over this blog! The themes of her stories and the characters in them are both interesting and relatable. I’ve given up trying to read these stories slowly and instead just read them over and over again. Though First Comes Love is her latest novel, I’d recommend any of her books.
The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Liane Moriarty:
Big Little Lies might be Liane Moriarty’s biggest hit, but The Hypnotist’s Love Story had me just as mesmerized. Like all of Moriarty’s books, it’s a page-turner filled with her quick-wit and humor. My favorite part about writing and reading is feeling a connection to what’s on the page and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read a line Moriarty’s written and said out loud, “I’ve totally thought that.” None of her books disappoint.
Everything Changes, Jonathan Tropper:
He’s best known for This is Where I Leave You, but Everything Changes is my favorite Jonathan Tropper book. Tropper is humorous, yet introspective and has an ability to accurately describe feelings that most would have a difficult time trying to put into words. Here’s an example of that from this book:
“Jesus, Jed!” I say. “It’s not like that.”
“What is it like, then?”
I sigh, leaning back in my char. “It’s like a big fucking mess,” I say. “I love Hope, and I know she loves me. But I could have been anyone, really. She had this checklist of requirements and I filled some and she figured I can be molded to fit the rest. We got along, we were attracted to each other, so we decided to fall in love. It’s different with Tamara. We understand each other without having to explain. It’s not something we decided on; it was already there all by itself, waiting for us. It’s like this pure love, and it feels the way I always thought it was supposed to until I decided I was being unrealistic and gave up on it.”
Nancy Meyers and Norah Ephron Films:
For the longest time I tried to figure out what all my favorite movies had in common and then I realized it was that they were all written and directed by the same two women. Every movie by Meyers and Ephron makes you feel good while also making you think deeply about love and about life. Watch them all, but never with me because I will recite every single line.
Falling and Tempting Fate are two of my favorite Jane Green novels. But, just like Emily Giffin’s books, you can’t go wrong when you go Green.
After my freshman year of college I took a year off school and moved from Portland, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina to write a love story of my own, solely because this is the setting for many of Sparks’ novels. Though his stories don’t accurately hit at what it’s like to really like to fall in love today—most of us don’t have parents intercepting letters from our lovers, or ghosts helping steer us into the arms of our next boyfriend—they’re still fun stories I love to get lost in. And the South really is as romantic as he describes.
Every summer I look forward to sitting on the beach with one of Hilderbrand’s reads. They are fun and promise to take you places where you’ll love hanging out. And she’s pretty fashionable on Instagram too!
The History of Love, Nicole Krausse:
A friend and I were talking about this book yesterday. It’s been ten years since we both read it—long enough that neither of us remembered what it was about, but we both remembered the way it made us feel. It’s a love story I need to revisit and one worth checking out.
There’s a reason there are more than 200 million copies of Macomber’s books in print. Her stories are compelling and leave you with a feeling of hope. I just finished If Not for You and also am a fan of the Rose Harbor series.
What are your favorite love stories? Comment below!