Our Love Language Books

Several weeks ago, a tweet about books being a love language went viral. This made me think: which books would I assign a potential partner of mine? Do other readers have books they would want their partners to read and share thoughts about? So I asked other Rioters if they had soulmate books, and which books they would pick, and here is what they said.

(This post is honestly so beautiful, I really recommend that you think about what your soul books are. It’s was lovely to think of mine and to read the ones submitted for the post—please, if you’re so inclined, tell me yours and why in the comments. I am very curious!)


Beth O’Brien 

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay: Feminism is really important to me, so it has to be important to you too. Bad Feminist is accessible, relatable, funny, heart wrenching. It’s Roxane Gay. Enough said. I’ll probably make you follow her on Twitter, too.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: This is one of my all time favourite books. Jane is feisty, uncompromising, and independent. She knows what she wants and what she believes in. This book was pretty formative for me, and a quote from it is incorporated in one of my tattoos.  

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: This book is lyrical and filled with timeless insights about life, love, and loss. It will level up your emotional intelligence. I want you to get it when I quote Mama Cheryl (yes, that’s what I call her to myself).

Leah von Essen

American Gods by Neil Gaiman: I have made someone in my life read this book. Gaiman is an author who has changed my life, and this book I think best sums up his genius—that said, Neverwhere and Stardust are acceptable alternatives depending on the person and their preferences.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro: A literary fantasy that says a lot about love that I think needs to be shared.

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: This exercise is difficult for me because most of the books I most love are twisty and long, and I wouldn’t impose them on anyone who didn’t like that style. But you have to read something by Woolf, to understand my respect for her.

Alison Doherty

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss: This has been one of my favorites—if not my number one favorite—since I read it in high school, and I’ve read it so many times since then. The poetic lyrical passages informed so many of my opinions on love. And the complicated, flawed characters remind me that I don’t want to be a perfectionist when it comes to my relationships.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: By far the most romantic book I’ve ever read. This is the Pride and Prejudice of our time. And Mr. Darcy has nothing on Obinze!

Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski: This might not be the most romantic or important book for me—but it’s the best book about sex and sexuality I’ve read. I learned so much about myself reading this (because both brains and vaginas are super complicated!). And while it focuses mostly on women’s experiences, I think there is so much for people of all genders to learn from this one.  

Nicole Froio

A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez: I came across this memoir completely by accident, but I related to it more than I’ve ever related to any book, ever. Hernandez is a queer Cuban-Colombian woman, and she writes about her experience discovering bisexuality and learning about ethnicity and race in her own community. 

Circe by Madeline Miller: OK, I guess this is a new-ish book, but when I read it, it was so beautiful that I just wanted to live in Circe’s world. It’s about the story and the witchcraft, but it’s also about the pain and the longing and the isolation. I love this book so much (anything by Madeline Miller is incredible imo).

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby: I feel like I had to include a book that was funny as well as serious and real because that’s how I feel I deal with life. This book made me laugh so much even when Irby talks about painful experiences.

Priya Sridhar

Fangirl  by Rainbow Rowell:If you love me, you must know my love for fan communities and fic. You must also know that this book talks about both, and how important it is to find joy when your head hates you. College freshman Cath hates that her sister has refused to room with her, that her roommate is scary, and that she can’t work on her giant fic Carry On fast enough to beat the last Simon Snow book’s release date. In time her roommate proves to be a loyal friend, twin sister Wren gets some wake-up calls about her recklessness, and at least one boy appreciates the words.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi: We need literary analysis in the darkness. I read this book in high school during a rather stressful year, though every year of high school was stressful in all honesty. Dr. Nafisi recalls how she taught Western literature in Iran during and after the revolution, how the regime proceeded to label academics like her “decadent and Western,” and how she coped by turning to books. Considering how things are now, Nafisi was warning us Americans about how bad things could get when unimaginative minds use morality as an excuse to execute and unemploy thousands. And she also reminded us of the things that we could do.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: Love cannot have these sorts of secrets. When the French prince Sebastian hires a seamstress named Frances to design dresses for him, they hit it off well because Sebastian pays her well and appreciates how Frances takes a lateral approach to fashion. Though I will say that it’s the book’s opening that sets the tone, when Frances has to design a dress for a tomboy debutante, and gives Lady Sophia a dress that makes her happy, if the talk of the papers.

Vanessa Diaz

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie: To know me is to know that I love a good cozy mystery, so start with a book by my favorite author. I love that a woman who wrote her first book on a dare in the 1920s remains the bestselling novelist of all time. I need you to appreciate that greatness.

Not that Bad by Roxane Gay: I need to know that you understand that the world I walk in as a woman is not the same one you do as a man. It has taken me a long time to speak more openly about my experience, in part because I told myself that what I went through wasn’t that bad. This collection of stories is a tough one to get through but is essential in understanding rape culture and how it affects every woman everywhere for every day of her life.

Like Water for Chocolate by Maria Esquivel: This book sums up so much of what I love: sweeping romance, mythical family saga, strong Mexican women, the transformative, almost magical power of food. It’s an oldie but goodie that I’m still as in love with today as I was when I read it over a decade ago.

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What are your love language books? Tell us about ’em in the comments! 

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