Lovely Books About Love

Love is in the air.

Along with all the craziness.

I absolutely support people celebrating love – whether it’s Valentine’s day or Galentine’s Day, LGBTQ+ love or self-love or whatever name we give to the celebration of love – but when this time of the year comes people start to get crazy again, looking for unnecessary stuff once more, after all the Christmas gifts and holiday frenzy. I honestly think that we don’t need so much stuff and should embrace the minimalistic way of living, get rid of the things we don’t need, mentally and physically. I’ll rant about this around Christmas again, probably.

But now, ready or not for all the love, here it comes. In the form of book recommendations, of course. Books that celebrate love in all its forms. Because books are one of the the best and most useful gifts you can give to others or treat yourself to one. Unless you didn’t like the book or you received it as a gift but already had it in your library. If this happens to be the case, you still have a few environmentally-friendly options. You can donate it to a charity shop, you can give it to a friend who you know would love it or leave it in those take-a-book-leave-a-book places around your city.

Here are some books about love that I think would make great gifts for your SO. I’ve organised them in four categories, so that you can have your pick more easily.

I. Love Yourself: celebrating self-love. Every change starts from within. In order to be able to give love, we need to learn how to love ourselves first (and this is equally important as giving love to others) and take care of our mental and physical health.

The things that make me different are the things that make me.

Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • What a Time to be Alone: The Slumflower’s guide to why you are already enough. ‘She’ll show you that being alone is not just okay: it’s just about the best freaking thing that’s ever happened to you. As she says, “You’re bad as hell and you were made with intention.” It’s about time you realised.’
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: This book brings out themes such as loneliness, trauma and mental health issues, which only make self-care and self-love even more important and vital for our well-being.
  • First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A new conversation about anxiety. ‘Tired of the perception of anxiety as a disease that must be medicated into submission, Wilson embarked on a seven-year journey to find a more meaningful and helpful take on anxiety.  First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is the result of that quest, brimming with the most potent philosophy, science and hacks for thriving with, and understanding, the beast.’

II. The Love We Give to Others: celebrating love for others. Love is to be shared with someone. Love is just love, it has no limits, no shape, no boundaries. It exists in many forms and unites people.

‘How do you spell “love”?’ asked Piglet.
‘You don’t spell it, you feel it,’ said Pooh.

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Call Me By Your Name: It is the story of a ‘sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera.’
  • Open Water: ‘At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it.’
  • Alexa, what is there to know about love?: This book is a ‘wonderful collection of poems about love in all its forms, covering everything from romantic love to familial love, to long-distance love, and even love on the internet. The collection also features poems about the true passions for many booklovers, reading and literature, and the odd one about the subject causing many of us heartbreak: politics.
  • Love After Love: This book was so beautifully written, it encapsulates the different dimensions of love. ‘Love After Love interrogates love and family in all its myriad meanings and forms, asking how we might exchange an illusory love for one that is truly fulfilling.’

III. Love for the Animals: celebrating unconditional love. I do believe that this is the purest form of love there is. The one that needs nothing in exchange. The one that is truly for life.

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • The Inner Life of Animals: ‘Peter Wohlleben follows the hugely successful The Hidden Life of Trees with insightful stories into the emotions, feelings, and intelligence of animals around us. Animals are different from us in ways that amaze us – and they are also much closer to us than we ever would have thought.’
  • Becoming Wild: ‘As Safina shows, the better we understand the animals with whom we share this planet, the less different from us they seem.’
  • Other Minds: ‘The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter? But what kind of intelligence do cephalopods possess? How did the octopus, a solitary creature with little social life, become so smart? What is it like to have eight tentacles that are so packed with neurons that they virtually ‘think for themselves’? By tracing the question of inner life back to its roots and comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Godfrey-Smith casts crucial new light on the octopus mind – and on our own.’
  • The Wisdom of Wolves: ‘Radinger shows how much we can learn from these beautiful and mysterious creatures, and how much there is to gain from emulating the wisdom of wolves.’

IV. Love for the Planet: celebrating the Earth and nature. This should be our number one priority as the humankind. We need to make the planet a better place, for it’s given us so much already – resources, food, beauty and shelter – and for the sake of our future generations. I believe these books help us understand those matters better and form a better connection with our planet and all its living creatures.

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • A Life on Our Planet: ‘We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited. All we need is the will to do so.’
  • Entangled Life: ‘The more we learn about fungi, the less makes sense without them. Neither plant nor animal, they are found throughout the earth, the air and our bodies. They can be microscopic, yet also account for the largest organisms ever recorded. They enabled the first life on land, can survive unprotected in space and thrive amidst nuclear radiation. In fact, nearly all life relies in some way on fungi. Entangled Life is a mind-altering journey into a spectacular and neglected world, and shows that fungi provide a key to understanding both the planet on which we live, and life itself.’
  • The Hidden Life of Trees: After reading this book, a walk in the woods will never be the same again. ‘Are trees social beings? How do trees live? Do they feel pain or have awareness of their surroundings? In The Hidden Life of Trees Peter Wohlleben makes the case that the forest is a social network. He draws on ground-breaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.’
  • The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: ‘Might there be an alien planet with supersonic animals? Will they scream with fear, act honestly, or have technology? Is the universe swarming with robots? Dr Kershenbaum uses cutting-edge science to paint an entertaining and compelling picture of extra-terrestrial life. The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy is the story of how life really works, on Earth and in space.’
  • Underland: ‘In Underland, Robert Macfarlane takes us on a journey into the worlds beneath our feet. From the ice-blue depths of Greenland’s glaciers, to the underground networks by which trees communicate, from Bronze Age burial chambers to the rock art of remote Arctic sea-caves, this is a deep-time voyage into the planet’s past and future.’

I hope you enjoyed my list of book recommendations about love. It’s not an exhaustive one for sure, as there are hundreds of amazing books on this topic, but it’s just one more way to find some inspiration and maybe discover your next great read.

Last but not least, show your local independent bookshop some love and purchase the books you’ll be giving as presents from it!

In case you need me… #owlbeereading!

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