The Most Un-Romantic Books for Valentine’s Day

Alright- I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade- but I am basically the equivalent of a Valentine’s Day Scrooge. Anyone that knows me is probably well aware that I am a massive sap and a huge romantic- which is probably why it might come as a surprise that I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Call me crazy, but a day of tacky cards and forced romance has never struck me as particularly romantic. And that is why I have devised this list!

Shout out to The Laurenest whose post earlier in the week heavily inspired me to make this post. Without further ado, here are 10 completely unromantic books to read on Valentine’s Day.

  1. 1984

1984 bookThis is undoubtedly one of my favourite dystopias ever written. Conveniently for this list, it’s also pretty unromantic.

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  1. The Handmaid’s Tale

handmaid's taleNothing says *UNROMANTIC* like women being used as sex-slaves in a dystopian future. I’m not even a fan of this book- but I have to say, if romance is the last thing on your mind, then this is the book for you!

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  1. The Yellow Wallpaper

yellow wallpaperThis is a more proto-feminist piece than the last one. But I recommend it if you’re not feeling the romance this Valentine’s Day because there’s nothing romantic about insanity. (Although I also recommend it every other day of the year!)

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  1. The Bell Jar

the bell jarSpeaking of insanity- how could I not recommend this book? I mean some of you might get turned on by electric shock treatment for depression (who am I to judge?) but for the most part, I’d assume this will put you off romance for a while.

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  1. Turn of the Screw

turn of the screw 2Here’s another creepy one. Like The Yellow Wallpaper and The Bell Jar, it’s certainly got elements of madness. But, depending on your interpretation of it, there are also ghosts and mysteries in this one. Also, if you’re feeling in a more intellectual mood, then this is the book for you.

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  1. Jude the Obscure

judeThis book is technically a romance- but let’s face it, it’s also the most depressing book ever written. And if you want to shout “Love is dead!” from the rooftops  then this book is the place to start. Or end.

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  1. Storm of Swords

storm-swords-george-martin-paperback-cover-artTo be honest, I could have picked any of the series for pure shock factor and because Martin can deliver a depressing blow to your favourite characters like no other author alive today. BUT obviously (for anyone that’s familiar with the series) this one has one of *THE* worst moments in the series, so I had to pick it. If you feel like being knocked for six, then this is the book to read on Valentine’s.

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  1. The Bloody Chamber

bloody chamberThese short stories are retellings of fairy tales that are often creepy, violent and disturbing. I really recommend these in general- but even more so for an anti-Valentine’s Day reading party!

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  1. The Wasp Factory

wasp factoryOkay, I’m gonna suggest something a bit different, cos I’ve never actually read this. Honestly, that’s because having read extracts and heard so much about it, the thought of it creeps me out- which is kind of why it *had* to be on this list. It is just so gross!!

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  1. Trainspotting

trainspottingHere’s another one I haven’t read. The reason for that is Irvine Welsh came to my Uni and read extracts from it and I realised it wasn’t for me at all. I was grossed out and horrified by it in equal measure. So yeah, I reckon this is the perfect book to read on an unromantic Valentine’s Day. I mean, nothing screams “I hate romance!” more than being horrified.

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Alright- that was fun! (at least for me!)

Anyone else have any Anti-Valentine’s Day recommendations?

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45 thoughts on “The Most Un-Romantic Books for Valentine’s Day

  1. Claire | Art and Soul says:

    Haha! I scrolled down your list quickly (nodding as I went) before going back and reading everything. I was just thinking, “Well of all of those, Jude the Obscure is definitely the most depressing” and then I saw what you put and laughed! You’re so right! 🙂
    I had to read it a few times while studying my degree and I’m never going to read it again – miserable!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. amermelstein says:

    This is a great list with a ton of fantastic books for any time of the year, but on Valentine’s day they’re particularly refreshing. Even if you *DID* like Valentine’s day–sometimes you need to curb the gushing, squealing, and general sappiness. And Atwood and Carter and Plath certainly fit the bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bambiquim says:

    I enjoy the blog post, but am not sure I agree that Hardy’s Jude the Obscure is a romance. Isn’t it literally Hardy’s diatribe against marriage? I am also a fan of the book, but thought that the point of the novel is that marriage is against our very nature, and could literally destroy your life.

    I sadly am unable to currently think of any additions for your list, off the top of my head. I want to recommend the Bronte sisters, whose gothic sensibilities somehow manage to confuse abuse with romance, but I feel that many readers would disagree with that interpretation…

    Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yes that’s exactly what it is- but in the defence Hardy himself wrote about it he described it as a romance- a tragic romance, but a romance nonetheless. As Hardy said to his critics, the core plot is about a man in love with a woman. Besides, it being a diatribe against marriage doesn’t preclude that it can’t be a romance. In fact, a lot of the message of the novel is about how marriage stands in the way of genuine love. It’s more about the destructive nature of institutions than it is about the destructive nature of love. Also, it’s probably good to note, that the novel is above all about failure- failure in love, failure in education, failure in a career- the book has many layers and it’s difficult to pin down to being about one single thing- but if I was going to try and pin it down, I’d focus on it being about how the human spirit is broken by factors outside of our control (predominantly fate). It is a theme that Hardy is obsessed with and turns up time and again in his work.
      I do love the Bronte sisters- but I reckon they’re a tad romantic for an anti-romance list. I’m not sure I agree that they’re about abuse- although Wuthering Heights is again about a destructive relationship- it’s more about two characters who are equally flawed than anything else.
      You’re welcome! Thanks for your comment!

      Like

      • bambiquim says:

        You’re absolutely right that writing a novel against marriage does not preclude it from being a romance. I had never looked up Hardy’s own opinion of the novel, so thanks for setting the record straight.

        Rochester tries to get the woman he “loves” to eternally damn her soul by becoming his mistress, and has to become blinded in order to deign to consider the woman his equal. While I’m not sure Charlotte intended for her male love interest to be abusive, I would argue that he most definitely is. Wuthering Heights, I suppose it depends on your interpretation. Love the Bronte sisters, but they definitely indulged in the bad boy fantasies, which I have no problem with, personally. I just like to recognize an Edward Cullen for the creepy, possessive stalker he is, you know? (Though the Bronte sisters writes a gigantic bit more in a style that pleases me than Meyer’s watered-down version of True Blood.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • theorangutanlibrarian says:

          no worries- thanks for listening- it was in the intro to my mum’s copy and I’ve seen it a few other places, but I’ve not been able to find it online- I’ll let you know when I do- it’s an interesting read (one of the things he talks about is a priest burning a copy of the book, which hardy says was probably because “he couldn’t burn me”)
          hmm that’s an interesting interpretation- I never thought of it quite like that- though I agree he’s messed up. That’s a fair point about bad boy fantasies! haha I don’t know if they’re quite in the league of edward cullen for abusive stalkeryness- but I take your point 🙂 (haha I can definitely agree with that!)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Codie says:

    This is a wonderful idea! I really do abhor Valentine’s Day and all its tacky “glory,” so my love for this post is high. I’d have to recommend Misery by Stephen King, it really is the most honest romance novel ever written 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thanks so much! I really do too- I think I can get on board with most holidays, even if I don’t celebrate them- but I draw the line at Valentine’s Day. Forced romance is not romantic and it basically ends up as a day designed to guilt people into romance (and to make people feel bad if they haven’t got anybody). Thanks so much! That sounds really cool- and I’ve been meaning to read some Stephen King 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Codie says:

        It’s definitely the worst. I agree about the forced romance, plus I hate chocolate, PDA and killing flowers – just the whole thing is sickening. You’re welcome! I’m sorry my reply is so late, I’ve been sick for awhile. I’ve only read one Stephen King book but it was wonderful, I’d recommend it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

          • Codie says:

            That’s true, can there be anything less romantic than force (Fifty Shades of Grey). Thank you, I’m actually starting to 🙂 I’ve read Misery but I’ve seen EVERY Stephen King movie adaptation – which doesn’t count for much since a great deal suck in comparison to book (so I’ve heard).

            Liked by 1 person

              • Codie says:

                Shawshank was amazing, but I enjoyed a lot of them like, The Shining, Secret Window, Green Mile (so sad), Carrie, and Misery. I think that guy was talking about movies like Christine, Dreamcather and Thinner. But you not liking horror movies saves you from many stupid ones haha.

                Liked by 1 person

                • theorangutanlibrarian says:

                  Ahh I haven’t seen any of those- a couple of those are horror/scary so I won’t watch them cos I’m a massive scaredy cat :/ It definitely does! (most of the time- except when friends of mine all outvote me- and some of them get a kick out of terrible horror movies- which aren’t scary, they’re just bad!)

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Codie says:

                    Yeah some of them are, but I can understand you not liking scary movies. I’m a masochist I guess because I love scary movies and not being able to sleep for weeks 🙂 Haha, that’s sad and funny at the same time.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

                      haha makes sense, but I like my sleep too much :p Plus there are scary stories I heard 10 years ago that still keep me up at night to this day- so I don’t think it’s such a good idea to add to that list. Isn’t it just?

                      Liked by 1 person

  5. Zezee says:

    This was fun to read. I just looked up The Wasp Factory and it sounds really interesting. I think I’ll read it for my Horror Reading Challenge, which I’m seriously procrastinating on.
    I wonder if Beloved would count as an unromantic book because of the ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nicola Alter says:

    Also not a Valentine’s Day fan – tend to try and ignore it every time it comes around, as does my husband! Would much rather do romantic things on an anniversary or some other day when the commercial world is not foisting love hearts and roses on me.

    I’ve only read the first 2 books on your list, but you’ve got those spot on!! Two of the most unromantic books I’ve ever read, especially The Handmaid’s Tale. That book makes relationships seem clinical and disgusting and hollow… which was a weird feeling when reading it because I’m normally a big believer in romance!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      haha yeah- I never celebrate Valentine’s Day- regardless of whether I’m dating someone or not! Exactly! haha I’ve never been a fan of the massive consumerism on Valentines either- it just doesn’t feel romantic at all.
      Yeah they definitely are! They’re great books, but they’re total downers :/ Me too- I usually love romance/romantic books! They’re usually my favourites 🙂 In fact, ironically, this list contains books that I haven’t read, wouldn’t read and don’t like! I mean, I’m honestly not a fan of Handmaid’s Tale- it was just too much for me and I wasn’t convinced by it- so I totally get what you mean.

      Liked by 1 person

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