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The Power of Love: 5 Atypical Reads On Relationships

Had enough of hearts and flowers? Gift yourself a book on love, sex, and relationships this Valentine’s Day.
by Rosie Allabarton | Feb 14 2018

It’s Valentine’s Day and with the stores filled with teddy bears saying ‘I Love You’ and the Internet awash with heart-eyed emojis and romantic gift ideas it can be a hard one to ignore.

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, this time of year can bring up all sorts of unexpected emotions around the theme of romance and love. And just after you’ve gotten over the emotional rollercoaster that was Christmas and New Year, too.

Happy Love Day!

Whatever your views on this Hallmark holiday — perhaps you welcome this once-a-year chance to serenade someone with your best Barry White impression — Valentine’s Day can be a great opportunity to think about what we want from our lives and relationships. To help you do that, check out our favorite books about sex, love, and everything in between!

1. American Savage by Dan Savage

Podcast fans will no doubt know Savage from shows like This American Life and his own wildly popular podcast, Savage Love. His unflinching, playful style provokes honest thought about gender, orientation, love, sex, and why we all have a blinkered view of what constitutes a healthy relationship. Read, think, enjoy — and never, ever Google “Santorum”.

— Carrie, Managing Editor of Blinkist Magazine

American Savage by renowned gay rights activist Dan Savage challenges misconceptions on the moot points of America’s equality laws and citizen’s rights, particularly in relation to the LGBT community. With both humor and refreshing honesty, Savage details many of the recent controversies in modern American history and offers his own unique, untethered perspective on the church, relationships, and sex. A must-read for anyone questioning the current status quo regarding sexuality or conventional relationships.

Listen to Dan Savage on our podcast, Simplify, here!

2. All The Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

All The Single Ladies isn’t a traditional Valentine’s Day pick in that it covers—you guessed it—the charms and challenges of being an unpartnered woman, from the turn of the century till today. It does, however, deal with big, capital L Love: love of place, love of one’s work, and most important, the romance of friendship between a single woman and her female familiars. Come for the history and politics, stay for the feels. The chapter on friendship made me cry.

— Caitlin, Simplify Co-host & Podcast Lead

As a single woman on Valentine’s Day, the last thing you need is more advice on your love life. All The Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister doesn’t even go there. Instead of pushing the agenda of romantic love, Traister celebrates the bonds between women with powerful examples of how deep female friendships can and do provide an equally significant alternative to the support and love found in a romantic relationship. Traister also gives us some hard facts on why now is the very best time in history to be a single women, covering everything from economic independence, equal opportunities in education and increased sexual liberation. A true celebration of the sisterhood in the 21st Century.

Listen to Rebecca Traister on our podcast, Simplify, here!

3. Why We Love by Helen Fisher

Curious to find out why love affects our brains the same way as cocaine? Want to understand how evolution is linked to the prevailing structure of monogamy? A perfect title for those interested in the biological side of love.

— Justyna, Web Product Designer

In Helen Fisher’s unique and engrossing book about love, the author takes a look at how the experiences of being in love differ between cultures and in what ways this overwhelming, emotional, and deeply personal event is universal to us all. She discusses the science behind falling in love, and how the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin work in combination, increasing and decreasing when we fall for somebody. So, if you really want to know why you’re getting those butterflies in your tummy you’ll find your answer here.

4. Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan

This book sure will spice up a monotonous Valentine’s Day! The author approaches the concept of ‘lust’ and ‘love’ in a unique way–scientific yet surprisingly human. A profound, delightful read that will rid you of self-doubt.

— Sira, Influencer Manager

Christopher Ryan’s controversial read Sex At Dawn is an argument for the naturally promiscuous nature of men and women. Indeed, Ryan puts forward a compelling case for the downright incompatibility of monogamous relationships with our modern Western culture. Why does Ryan think it’s so unnatural? He cites the huge personal risks people take to commit adultery, how our ancestors would have had multiple partners at a time, and how casual sex between groups strengthens bonds. A fascinating book about sex and our relationship to it.

5. Why is Sex Fun? by Jared Diamond

This curious look into human sexual behaviors is a great read for anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of, for example, why we can flip from hot under the collar to “not tonight, honey,” in a flash.

— Julian, Customer Support

Jared Diamond discusses the “unusual” sexual behaviors of human beings when compared to other mammals. He explains how monogamy between men and women actually supports the furthering of our DNA, why a woman’s hidden ovulation means humans are happy to have sex at any time (and be less promiscuous) and how human males are more likely to stick around after the birth of a child (in contrast to other species) in doing so securing our position at the top of the food chain. Who said evolution wasn’t sexy?

Whatever you’re doing this February 14th — whether you’re sold on the argument for open relationships or you simply want to celebrate your close friendships — we hope you’re feeling the love this Valentine’s Day.

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