Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine's Day, Liz Style

Even Jane Seymour's incredibly
tacky jewelry is more appropriate
for Valentine's Day
than these (admittedly great) books.
Ah, love. When talking about what we would post this week, Gianna suggested that we feature our publishers' best-selling titles for the lovers' holiday. After hanging up the phone, though, I realized that, having hugged two different people over the weekend (old friends visiting), I am emotionally spent and have little to offer you lovers. I'm going to sit here in my lonely house with my box of Little Debbie Nutty Bars and think about books that tell that special someone that you really, really (don't) care.

Ten Books You'd Be an Idiot to Give to Your Sweetheart for Valentine's Day (But Are Nonetheless Really, Really Good)

1. Revolutionary Road. I love this book and I was even the token fan of the movie, but seriously, if you gave this book to your wife, she'd probably take the dog and move in with her sister that night. Frank and April Wheeler have high aspirations of creative genius until they move to the suburbs, sell out for Frank's boring job and Mad Men-esque two kids, and April loses her acting career and will to live. This book blows a 1.7 blood/alcohol level, and, yeah, (spoiler alert) there's a botched abortion.

2. The White Hotel. D.M. Thomas wrote an erotic tale full of illicit love...between Sigmund Freud's son and a hysterical woman. Freud is the woman's therapist, she may be making the whole thing up, and really it's about the horrors of the Holocaust.

3. The Bottle Factory Outing. I love Beryl Bainbridge, and particularly this book. Brenda and Frida work in a factory that bottles Italian wine. The company has a picnic, and while one of the women is a born victim, the other is a brash fighter who wants to find romance and love. But instead she's killed and stuffed in a wine barrel. (Yeah, that's a spoiler too.)

4. Sophie's Choice. First: Holocaust. Second: A mother has to choose which of her children will survive. Need I say more?

5. The Virgin Suicides. What's creepier--the parents who smother their daughters so much that they begin to kill themselves one by one, or the boys watching across the street who silently witness the family's demise?

Oh my god!
They shot Bambi!
6. The Road. I think The Road is the standard bearer for bleak reads. Cormac McCarthy is one dark dude, so his version of the post-apocalyptic future involves a man and his son walking down a road, hiding from cannibals, and saving the bullets in that gun for the right moment.

7. Where the Red Fern Grows, The Yearling, Old Yeller. Nothing says "I'm not getting laid tonight" like giving your sweetie one of these classics about losing the family pet(s).

8. The Handmaid's Tale. Saunter up to your lady, wrap your arm around her, and her the scene in Margaret Atwood's feminist dystopian novel in which the protagonist, Offred, fulfills her handmaid duty by having sex with Fred and his barren wife. Guess who's sleeping alone tonight! You are, hot shot!

9. American Psycho. Patrick Bateman? He gets off by admiring himself, fixating on the mass consumerism of 80's culture, and, you know, killing women. On the other hand, Christian Bale is naked in the movie version.

The cover is red!
It's perfect for V Day!
(No, it is not.)
10. Push. Sapphire's novel which became the movie Precious is all about an inner city girl learning to read. Also, she was sexually abused by both parents, has a child with Down Symdrome she named Mongo (short for "mongoloid"), and is pregnant with another child. She's on welfare and her mother beats her. And when she finally escapes...yeah, she has AIDS.

What's crazy about this list is that I really like these books (except for American Psycho, which isn't my preferred version of depressing). They are great reads (as long as the date isn't February 14th).

And yes, I'm still single.

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