— by Ayn Gailey —
Valentines Day is the perfect time to celebrate romance and the daring act of falling in love, both activities that can traditionally require a little—or a lot—of risk, effort, and money. However, here on Orcas Island, you can also experience an intense romance and the delightful act of falling in love risk-free, without spending a dime or even connecting with another person because Valentines is also the perfect day to fall in love with a new book, and to be transported, along with a heroine or hero, into their love story.
To help us find love this Valentines, Phil, Martin, Holly and Nita at our Orcas Island Public Library have sent us a list of their love-themed recommendations when it comes to books for young and young-at-heart readers.
Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell
A fast-moving, action-packed novel focusing on Richard Shakespeare, William’s estranged younger brother, who hopes to increase his importance and income as a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Amid abundant intrigue, controversy, and bad weather, he falls in love with a maid in the household of Baron Hunsdon, the acting company’s patron.
The Girls from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith
A suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied Venice. Cenzo, leading a simple life as a fisherman near Venice near the end of World War II and trying to stay out of trouble, saves the life of Giulia, born to a wealthy Jewish family who is on the run from the SS. Set in the maze of the Venice Lagoon, this thriller, also a fascinating historical review of the crazy last days of the war, takes us by surprise as a love story.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Here’s a love story for those not explicitly into love stories. Set during the Italian campaign of the First World War, A Farewell to Arms is a war story hiding a love story, with the female protagonist inspired by Hemingway’s real life nurse/love interest. The story follows American Lieutenant Frederic Henry through battle scenes and tumultuous moments, struggling to find his way back to nurse Catherine, hoping to leave the war for good and start his life with her.
From Holly, for teen and young adult readers:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
A critically-acclaimed lyrical novel about family, friendship and unconventional love. Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet, they seem to have nothing in common. But as their journey progresses, they realize they share a special friendship—and eventually love.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
In this popular YA fiction book, Cinder is a cyborg with unique skills. She’s also a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, and a step mother who hates her. When her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
A book about first love, set over the course of one school year in 1986. Sixteen-year-old Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone, until she meets Park. Amidst late-night conversations and stacks of mixed tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. Funny, sad, shocking and true – this book is great nostalgia trip for anyone, of any age, who has never forgotten their first love.
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
In this sweet picture book for little ones, Little Nutbrown Hare shows his daddy how much he loves him: as wide as he can reach and as far as he can hop. But Big Nutbrown Hare, who can reach farther and hop higher, loves him back just as much.
The I Love You Book by Todd Parr
Author Todd Parr’s book for young readers celebrates the unconditional love between parent and child. From the I-love-you-when-you-need-hugs kind of love to the more lighthearted I-love-you-when-you-hide-my-keys kind of love. The perfect book to remind children how much they are loved, each and every day.
Froggy’s First Kiss by Jonathan London
A book about love that will keep the kids giggling. Froggy can’t think straight when Frogalina is around, so smitten he is by her. So with Valentine’s Day just a week away, Froggy gets busy making an extra-special valentine.
If you have other recommendations for our readers, please feel free to share the love in the comment section below.
Ayn is a co-founder of Novel Lab and the upcoming Orcas Island Literary Festival, www.oilf.org