What kind of single person are you? The kind that stands on a mountaintop, letting out a primal roar of freedom? Or one that stares out a window watching the rain drip down the glass, wondering where your life went so wrong? Look, sometimes your empowerment meter is way up, and other times, you haven’t had physical contact with another human being for an entire calendar year. It’s fine, it’s fine. It’s all very fine. Except when it’s almost Valentine’s Day and you feel not-so-fine if you believe in that sort of thing.
Buy your single self some roses and/or champagne and/or make a card that says “I choo-choo-choose you.” Then check out this list of books that you can either cuddle up to or karate chop in half, because you’re just that awesome all on your own. Whatever you want—because certain holidays are meaningless and quite possibly created by the movie companies so they could get a bunch of stars to do a zany rom-com together. Not naming any names.
Sex at Dawn, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá
This book talks evolutionary psychology, the conventional monogamy we’ve been socialized to accept, and how our natural instincts regarding sexual behavior may or may not have been stunted. Read it and then bring it up in front of your married friends so that everyone gets super uncomfortable!
Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates
ARRRRGH HIDE THE RAZOR BLADES. Seriously. If you’ve ever wanted a book that not only makes you happy to be single but also makes you wanna stay single forever, then this study of a disintegrating marriage is that book, my friend.
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
Because you don’t actually like people all that much and have often thought you’re surrounded by idiots. Read this and laugh, laugh, laugh at the peasants.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, by Steve Harvey
Oh, hell no. Anything that puts forth advice on how to “catch” a man should be stopped immediately. We have enough people thinking like “a man” in this world (approximately half), so we’re probably covered. Just act like yourself and think like yourself, because you’re pretty cool unless you’re a total murderer.
The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry
If being in a relationship means you have to cut your hair off and be selfless, then no, no thank you.
Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels, by John Updike
This freakin’ guy. Whoa. He’s leaving his wife, his wife’s leaving him, he’s unhappy, he’s in a dead-end job, he’s poor, he’s rich, he’s unfaithful, he wants to be unfaithful, he’s doing or thinking the wrong thing all the time. But maybe if he just stopped trying to do the “right” thing by society’s standards then he would be fine? Basically, everyone’s interior life is a gaping hole of terror and you can never really, truly know someone…or yourself, for that matter. Right? Oh god, all is lost.
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
HE CONFESSES THEN DIES?!?!?! Come on. Please. Come on. Please. Hester Prynne was cast out from society and made to live at the edge of town with a newborn baby like a leper. And she she manages to do with dignity. I would choose to be single forever if it meant I’d never have to deal with Dimmesdale, Puritan drama queen.
The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen
Honestly, it was a toss-up between this and Freedom, because no one tells a suburban nightmare quite like Jonathan Franzen. If this book didn’t paralyze you in fear, you’re either made of wet spaghetti or you’re actually super secure with your life and all your choices, so kudos on that.
Fifty Shades trilogy, by E L James
No, not because of the reasons you’re thinking, so get out of the gutter. Sexual predilections aside—Christian Grey is abusive as hell. He doesn’t like Anastasia hanging out with friends, he manipulates her into changing her name (among other things), he inserts himself (heh) into every single aspect of her life (um, he BOUGHT HER JOB). And haven’t we all been young and dumb and in love enough to ignore huge, clashing warning bells? Yes. RUN, GIRL.
Insurgent and Allegiant, by Veronica Roth
Believe it or not, reading YA will make you deliriously happy to not be a hormone-addled teen. Anyway…yo, Tris: stop fighting with your boyfriend and go fix the damn world.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
Friends are great. You are great. Your crazy alter-ego is great.
What book makes you grateful to be single?