It’s Valentine’s Day—now more than ever, we need a book to fall madly in love with. This week, we’ve got three reads that are sure to show you a good time. (If you’re in the middle of a less satisfying novel, consider a dalliance with one of these. We won’t tell.) Our picks this week are fun yet honest, ideal qualities for any date! While some of these are romance-oriented, let’s not forget that self-love and personal development counts for more than we sometimes remember. So, honestly, love yourself and give one of these a read. Without further ado, here are Bookstr’s Three to Read: the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week. Time to find your perfect match!
OUR HOT PICK
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.
Bookstr’s valentine is On the Come Up because we’ve fallen in love with #1 New York Times bestselling Angie Thomas, one of the most powerful voices in YA fiction today. Thomas expertly follows her breakout hit The Hate U Give with this novel, a raw, insightful, and often funny depiction of coexisting ambition and poverty. Thomas strikes a masterful balance when discussing issues of racism and structural inequality, using her light and playful voice to approach topics few other YA authors have addressed in such detail. Her careful examination of social issues and deeply nuanced characters will appeal to old fans and snag new ones. Warm, earnest, and honest, On the Come Up is your perfect book date this V-day, and it’s sure to be a match.
OUR Coffee Shop Read
Meet Jack Rothman. He’s seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys – sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, ‘it could be worse’.
He doesn’t actually expect that to come true.
But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he’s been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack’s secret admirer knows everything: where he’s hanging out, who he’s sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they’ll force him.
As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous…
Jack of Hearts and Other Parts is as unabashedly queer as its protagonist, including surprisingly frank and open discussions of sex. We’re talking better than sex-ed, complete with descriptions of different types of sex; advice on coming out; and even discussions of asexuality, an often misunderstood sexual orientation. L.C. Rosen is—excuse the pun—ballsy in his open portrayal of sex, drinking, smoking, and partying, boldly addressing facets of some teenagers’ lives that few authors cover in such detail. Readers will love this proud and confident gay protagonist, whose story is refreshingly fun and upbeat. Open, honest, and incredibly fun, this one’s hot enough to be your Valentine’s book date. Don’t drink too much coffee—you’ll want to bring this book to bed.
Our Dark Horse
In this one-of-a-kind retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan, Alys Binat has sworn never to marry—until an encounter with one Mr. Darsee at a wedding makes her reconsider.
A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family have destroyed their fortune and prospects for desirable marriages, but Alys, the second and most practical of the five Binat daughters, has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation before dropping out to marry and have children, Alys teaches them about Jane Austen and her other literary heroes and hopes to inspire the girls to dream of more.
When an invitation arrives to the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat, certain that their luck is about to change, excitedly sets to work preparing her daughters to fish for rich, eligible bachelors. On the first night of the festivities, Alys’s lovely older sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad “Bungles” Bingla, the wildly successful—and single—entrepreneur. But Bungles’s friend Valentine Darsee is clearly unimpressed by the Binat family. Alys accidentally overhears his unflattering assessment of her and quickly dismisses him and his snobbish ways. As the days of lavish wedding parties unfold, the Binats wait breathlessly to see if Jena will land a proposal—and Alys begins to realize that Darsee’s brusque manner may be hiding a very different man from the one she saw at first glance.
Readers will fall madly in love with this modern update on a timeless classic. While Unmarriageable is delightful and romantic, it also doesn’t hesitate to address the double standards that women face in regards to romance, sex, and courtship. A rich depiction of Muslim culture, Soniah Kamal‘s novel glitters with beautiful language and imagery that would enchant any potential reader. It’s as fun as it is aware, expertly examining social stratification as it takes its readers on an entertaining, colorful romp. Kirkus Reviews called this release “a charming update to the original,” perfect for Austen fans and any reader looking for a perfect match.
So, is it a date?
In-text Images Via Goodreads