Love. It’s the one subject we never tire of hearing about.
Even those of us with cold, empty cavities where our hearts should be devour stories of marriages, meet-cutes, affairs, and plate-smashing-soul-wrenching breakups. No subject has engrossed us as thoroughly, for as long. And yet, the depth of our obsession with love is matched only by how clueless we still are about it.
Thanks to technology and changing social norms, the landscape of love is undeniably different from how it looked just five or ten years ago. Instead of fretting over how to approach someone in person, we agonise over our text-messaging game. We worry about finding The One, but also mistrust the idea of ‘soulmates’ more than ever, with philosophers and psychologists alike making the case for settling in marriage. And while monogamy overwhelmingly remains the dominant model for romantic partnerships, polyamory and open relationships invite us to assess what commitment and fidelity really mean.
Against all these, however, our central anxieties about love remain unchanged.
What if I never find it? What if it’s unrequited? What if it doesn’t last? And what next if it does?
Compiling a reading list about love might seem quixotic, given that no book can answer these questions. No answer, perhaps, exists.
To this end, none of these books are instructive; they are not self-help books, and will not teach you how to ‘hack’ love or resolve your situationship or stop the ache blooming in your chest every time you think of that person—the one whose name undoes you.
But even if you don’t agree with what’s being said, there is no perspective on love we aren’t enriched by hearing.