It could seem like a cliché that come February everyone is reading romance novels and romantic poetry, but in the UK, lockdown still transcends and with it the opportunity to indulge in the escapism of books about love. Valentine’s Day for those in relationships is a celebration of love and companionship, for singles, on the other hand, it can be a whole different story. In particular, during this tumultuous time, Valentine’s Day can feel like a bit of a smack in the face for those isolated from loved ones.

Ultimate Library have compiled this list of romantic reads that will have something for everyone. For those happily coupled up, there are fluffy romances with the perfect happy ending. For the more sentimental types, there is poetry that can express how you really feel. And for those feeling a little more cynical this Valentine’s Day, there are rom-coms that can help you feel slightly better about being in lockdown.

Cover of the book Just Like You, featuring two cartoon people on a colourful background

1. Just Like You by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby’s brilliantly observed, tender and brutally funny new novel gets to the heart of what it means to fall headlong in love with the best possible person – someone who may not be just like you at all. Lucy and Joseph are opposites in almost all ways. She is a teacher and mother of two, with a past she is trying to forget; he is an aspiring DJ with a wide-open future that maybe needs to start becoming more focused.

The cover of Love in Colour featuring two cartoon black people about to kiss

2. Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola

Moving exhilaratingly across perspectives, continents and genres, from the historic to the vividly current, Love in Colour is a celebration of romance in all of its forms. Babalola finds the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology and rewrites them with incredible new detail and vivacity in this debut collection. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, she reimagines iconic myths.

The cover of Honey Girl featuring an illustration of a woman with flowers in her hair.

3. Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Morgan Rogers’s debut novel reverses all the rom-com expectations. Honey Girl follows Grace, hardworking and having just received her doctorate, she doesn’t usually make mistakes. But after a drunken night in Las Vegas, Grace wakes up to a calling card and hazy memories of getting married. Leaving her neat life behind, Grace follows the mystery lady into a new life of matrimony.

The cover of Love and Other Poems featuring an image of a jigsaw puzzle.

4. Love and Other Poems by Alex Dimitrov

Alex Dimitrov’s third collection, Love and Other Poems is full of praise for the world we live in. Taking time as an overarching structure–specifically, the twelve months of the year–Dimitrov elevates the everyday and speaks directly to the reader as if the poem were a phone call or a text message. Dimitrov doesn’t resist joy, even in despair. These poems are curious about who we are as people and shamelessly interested in hope.

The cover of How to Fail at Flirting featuring and illustration of a woman walking up to a man at a bar.

5. How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams

A warm and realistic romance from Denise Williams that shows the symbiotic power of love and healing. Professor Naya Turner heads out for an uncharacteristic night on the town, taking her mind off work to-do lists. After meeting a charming stranger, she decides to tick off a new to-do list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.

The cover of The Dating Plan featuring an illustration of two people getting engaged surrounded by plants.

6. The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

Sara Desai, the author of The Marriage Game, brings another hilarious, heartfelt romantic comedy in the form of The Dating Plan. Following Daisy Patel as she attempts to thwart her family’s interference into her love life. Daisy, a software engineer, asks her childhood crush, Liam Murphy, to be her decoy fiancé. Could their fake fling turn into something real? (Available March 16, 2021)

The cover of How We Met, featuring an illustration of two chairs at a table with coffee.

7. How We Met by Huma Qureshi

Add some sunshine and tenderness to this dreary February. This brief-but-wonderful book is a testament to Qureshi’s writing. Tackling the true story of how she and her then-non-Muslim husband came to be, is also a tale of love for her family, parents, heritage, religion and her own self-belief. Qureshi wasn’t against finding love via an arranged marriage but – as a journalist who stole herself off to live quietly in Paris for a year – nothing seemed to take (especially given one particular suitor and his mother) until she fell for Richard.

The cover of Alexa What is There to Know about Love featuring an illustration of one chair at a dining table.

8. Alexa, What Is The to Know About Love? By Brian Bilston

Alexa, what is there to know about love? is a wonderful collection of poems about love in all its forms, covering everything from romantic love to familial love, to long-distance love, and even love on the internet. The collection also features poems about the true passions for many book lovers, reading and literature, and the odd one about the subject causing many of us heartbreak: politics.

The cover of The Prophets featuring illustrations of peoples faces laid horizontally so they look like mountains.

9. The Prophets by Robert Jones JR

Robert Jones JR was recently named one of T Magazines ‘Black Male Writers of Our Time’ and lives up to that title with a brutal and beautiful love story between two enslaved men on a Mississippi plantation, a tale of rage and grace, of refuge among the ruins.

The cover of The Two Lives of Lydia Bird featuring smaller cartoon people and a red background.

10. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

Josie Silver brings back her trademark wit after her success with One Day in December. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird shows compassion and warmth as it follows the story of a young widow faced with a chance to remake the past and “be” with her fiancé again. A must-read for those who can’t resist heartache.