By: Jacklyn Gilmor
It’s Feb. 14, and people everywhere are overspending on chocolate boxes and tacky cards. To be different, why not get lost in some wonderful Canadian literature that speaks to your love life?
Whether you’re single, in a relationship, casually dating, or deeply committed to your bed, the cold weather makes it the perfect time to catch up on some good books. So, here are 10 tried and true Canadian novels to read, chosen for your current relationship status.
1. If you’re in a long-distance relationship: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. The Penelopiad tells the epic Greek tale of Odysseus from his deceased wife’s point of view. Abandoned by her adventurous husband for years, Penelope waited for him, turning away many suitors. She retells the story from the afterlife, revealing secret truths and illustrating her complicated romance with a man who was always far away.
2. If you’re looking for ‘The One’: Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery. Part of the classic and beloved Anne of Green Gables series, this book follows Anne through college as she navigates relationships. She ends up having to choose between two men, and learns about true love and adventure along the way.
3. If you’re head over heels: The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems, by Michael Ondaatje. Ondaatje’s poetry is rich and dream-like, but The Cinnamon Peeler stands out. It’s an elegant, passion-filled piece about the woman he loves. It will have your heart racing.
4. If you’re single and finding yourself: The Sun and her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur. A recent release by the celebrated young poet, The Sun and Her Flowers is raw, wise, and ultimately relatable. Kaur writes about her personal journey through heartache and joy, and you’ll definitely want to join her in it.
5. If your dates are disappointing: The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha. If you’ve been going on dates but potential partners just aren’t cutting it, check out this book for a guaranteed pick-me-up. Author Neil Pasricha compiled short essays on the little things in life that make him happy, like popping bubble wrap or the smell of bakeries. What’s not to love?
6. If you’re recently single and possibly plotting revenge: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison. This gripping thriller follows a cheating husband and a wife determined to settle the score. It’s told in alternating viewpoints for added suspense. (Side note: enjoy the thrill, but please don’t actually kill anyone, eh.)
7. If you’re struggling with relationships: Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani. This time-traveling tale set in Mumbai combines tragedy, morality, and romance. Its author has published several award-winning novels so far, so it’s sure to capture your emotions and take your mind off your own troubles.
8. If you’re married: Hearts and Minds: Canadian Romance at the Dawn of the Modern Era, 1900–1930, by Dan Azoulay. Take a break from cheesy romance novels or sub-par ‘chick-lit’. This is a creative non-fiction exploration of Canadian romance and courtship in the early 20th century. Azoulay writes about and analyzes history, weaving in beautiful relics of the era to bring it to life, like real love letters and diary entries.
9. If you just went through a breakup or divorce: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro. This collection of short stories brilliantly explores the lives of many different characters, through love, heartbreak, and everything in between. It’s not in the romance genre by any means, but you’ll be caught up in the unique journeys of both married and single characters.
10. If you’re celebrating family love: Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. It’s sweet, it’s simple, and it’s classic. This blue picture book has likely been in every Canadian family’s household at some point. A mother’s devotion to her son from his birth to adulthood slowly evolves into a role reversal. As the mother grows older and more vulnerable, her son learns to care for her with the kind of love she showed him throughout his life. Read this with your kids, with your parents, or with a blanket and mug of tea if you’re feeling sentimental.
This piece was edited by Luke Elisio