It’s February, and love is still in the air. With Valentine’s Day on February 14, we are now seeing other iterations of displaying love gaining popularity such as Galentine’s Day (February 13), an occasion to recognise female friendships.  

A prevailing theme across music, art and literature, love is portrayed in all forms – when it comes to art, it doesn’t matter who, or what you love. Whether long-term or fleeting, how love changes and how it changes us, it can be complex or simple  – the enduring contradictions of love is a topic for the ages.  

February is the time to celebrate all types of love, no matter how unconventional it may seem.  Dialogue contains works that explore different themes of love –  love that defies cultural boundaries, love between a child and a parent, and a child for their parent, Same-sex love, self love and even the passion and love we have for books and the act of reading.  

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Here we pick 14 books about love & their diverse love stories that are a testament to the most hallowed of emotions.  

1/ Great Writers, Great Loves Ann Marie Priest [B1918] 

A fascinating, revealing journey through the love lives of eight famous writers: Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville West, D.H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Charmian Clift, Dylan Thomas and Frank O’Hara. Priest delves into their letters and their writings. Their stories anticipated and reflected the revolutionary rethinking of love, sex and marriage that occurred during the course of the 20th century. 

2/ Love, Again Doris Lessing [B1506] 

What happens when someone falls in love? Is it different for the young and the old? Is it a madness, a blessing, a rationalisation of lust? Lessing’s leisurely, discursive novel interweaves the 19th century with the 20th to connect us with the pains, delights and puzzles of love, particularly that of an older woman for a younger man. 

3/ Beloved Toni Morrison [B1365] 

This extraordinary novel reveals the haunting legacy of slavery and racism. Morrison’s love song to her people and to the country which has so abused the African Americans enables us to begin to ‘understand the source of the outrage as well as the source of the light’. 

4/ Eat Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert [B2000] 

After a bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair, Gilbert realised it was time to pursue three things: pleasure, devotion and balance. Her spiritual quest unfolds in an engaging and highly enjoyable travel narrative that takes her to Italy, India and Indonesia.  

5/ His Illegal Self Peter Carey [B2020] 

Che is the precocious son of radical student activists. Raised in isolated privilege and denied access to television and news, his timely rescue pitches him into a hippy commune in the jungle of tropical Queensland. Here he slowly confronts his life, learning that nothing is as it seems. Carey lends his narrative wizardry to a beautiful story of love between mother and son.

6/ There Was Still Love Favel Parrett [B2331] 

Prague, 1938. On the brink of war, Eva’s actions will change the course of her life. Forty-two years later and halfway across the world, children and families try to find each other. A tale of two women binding families together across time and distance, and how love keeps us connected. 

7/ Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë [B0002] 

The poetic fierceness of Brontë’s vision gives this book a rare elemental power. Adopted by Catherine Linton’s father, wildling Heathcliff is bullied by Catherine’s brother – and when he returns to the grand house of Wuthering Heights as a grown and powerful man, the consequences of his vengeance will be far-reaching. At the heart of the complex drama of three generations of the Earnshaws and the Lintons is the passionate love of Catherine and Heathcliff. 

8/ The Last Bookshop Emma Young [B2343] 

This uplifting book follows the efforts of a young bookshop owner to sustain a community business in the age of corporatism. It is a tender and witty tale about triumphing over the odds: a book about the love of books and lovers of books, for lovers of books everywhere.

9/ Addition Toni Jordan [B2036] 

Grace Vandenburg counts. She counts the number of poppy seeds on her piece of cake, she counts the number of steps it takes her to reach her local café, she even counts the letters in her name. Then she meets Seamus O’Reilly. Addition is a quirky love story with a witty and unconventional heroine. 

10/ Flights of Love Bernhard Schlink [B1665] 

In these seven sophisticated short stories Schlink takes up the theme of love, different kinds of sadness, devotion and desire, misunderstandings, betrayal, midlife crises and the search for renewal. 

11/ Saving Jessie Imogen Clark [B1741] 

Only names have been changed in this true story of a Canberra family who discover that their youngest child is addicted to heroin. Intelligent, talented and loved, Jessie did not fit the stereotype of the young person who turns to drugs to escape from pain or abuse. A candid, unsensational account of a family trying to learn how far it is possible to help. 

12/ Ali and Nino Kurban Said [B1658] 

Considered the Romeo and Juliet of Azerbaijan, this little-known masterpiece follows the crosscultural marriage of a young Muslim prince and a rich Christian girl. Love does not run easily, but it works powerfully to try to overcome ancient tribal differences. 

13/ Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Jeanette Winterson [B1312]  

A young girl’s world is forever changed when she falls in love with another girl. Winterson skilfully portrays the ensuing emotions and confrontations common to all human experience – but particularly acute in an evangelical household. 

14/ Half a Lifetime Judith Wright [B1760]  

One of Australia’s finest poets, Judith Wright was born into a family of New South Wales pastoralists. Jack McKinney, the philosopher who became her lover, partner, and the father of her daughter, was also her intellectual companion in her passionate lifelong commitment to environmental causes and justice for the Aboriginal peoples of Australia. A poem by Wright stands as preface to each of the chapters in this luminous memoir, an added pleasure for the reader.

Read our collection of books about love for this Valentine’s month!