Valentine’s Day is a chance to show your love and appreciation for all the special people in your life. So, this year, think beyond traditional hearts and flowers relationships and explore these literary love stories that celebrate the plutonic as well as the passionate.
Romantic love: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Many themes run through Zora Neale Hurston’s triumphant novel but love is always at the forefront. The protagonist Janie must navigate an arranged marriage then a self-serving rogue before she finally finds her soulmate. The wait is worth it; Janie bides her time to fulfil her modest dream of happiness with a man she truly loves.
Friendship: A Walk in the Woods
Bill Bryson and his walking companion Katz put their friendship to the ultimate test in this laugh-out-loud account of their hike along the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. Tedious days of hunger, exhaustion, injury and insect bites lead to many a falling-out but ultimately the shared experience cements their friendship.
Family love: Little Women
You might bicker with your siblings when you’re young, argue about whose turn it is to host Christmas, and raise your eyebrows at some of their life choices, but for most people family ties are a lifelong bond. Perhaps that’s why Louisa May Alcott’s engaging story about four siblings still captivates readers more than 150 years after it was first published.
Four-legged friends: The Call of the Wild
Pets are part of the family and the bond that ties a beloved cat or dog to its human can run deep. This special relationship is explored in Jack London’s classic novel, with John and Buck equally influential and essential in the other’s life.
Self-love: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
As Mark Twain famously wrote, ‘A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval’. Sometimes you need to look after yourself before you treat someone else and, if so, this is the perfect read: the story of a woman who went against the grain of judgemental Victorian society to put her own wellbeing first.
Love and hate: The Twits
Love isn’t always straightforward, as demonstrated in this classic Roald Dahl story. A hateful, spiteful couple that is way beyond marriage counselling, Mr and Mrs Twit spend their days conjuring up ever more evil ways to harm and humiliate each other.