A flatlay of books about love on a pink background

Recipes for romance. Image: Flynn Shore/Penguin

Every year Valentine’s Day rolls around, focusing the mind on where your love life is at. Perhaps you’re being whisked away on a romantic retreat with your beau, perhaps you’ve forgotten about it entirely or maybe you’re nursing a heartbreak.

But while pink hearts and date nights take over the Western world for February 14, checking in with your hopes, priorities and contentment regarding your relationships is a lifelong commitment – and rarely something that can be helped by a rom-com.

Here are a list of brilliant, insightful and inspiring books that can help you to better understand what you need, and what you bring, to the people in your life – whether you’re in a relationship with them or not. Whether you spend Valentine’s Day with them is up to you!

Block, Delete, Move On by Lalalaletmeexplain

Right, let’s start at the deep end. If you’re broken-hearted or recovering from a difficult relationship or breakdown, this book will scoop you up, set the facts straight and help you to move on. Lalalaletmeexplain is the anonymous pseudonym of a qualified social worker and dating and relationships expert whose frank and accessible advice has won her nearly 200,000 Instagram followers. Block, Delete, Move On is a dating book that teaches you how to spot problematic behaviour and avoid it, so that you can get on with living your best life.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Thirty years have passed since author and anthropologist Gary Chapman released his book, The Five Languages – and yet it still regularly turns up in the New York Times bestseller list. Why? Because The Five Languages tells us not only why people fall in love, but also why we fall in love – and how to better align our needs in relationships. Turns out the secret to a meaningful connection can be as simple as understanding whether your loved one prioritises quality time over taking the bins out.

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

Perhaps your relationship is totally fine. Wholly unremarkable. Puttering along quite happily, with its quirks and routines as comfortingly familiar as favourite pair of slippers. In which case, The Course of Love could offer some depth and honesty to something that might deserve a bit of attention. The bestselling modern-day philosopher charts a perfectly ordinary love story: a couple who move from dating to marriage, to having children and having affairs. Along the way, he offers insight into the glue that keeps a relationship together – and where to carve space to light a new spark.

Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown

In essence, love is about people and how those people act, think and feel. And a good place to understand that is in turning the mirror back on ourselves. Five-time New York Times bestseller Brené Brown turns her engaging eye to the 87 emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. Offering a new language and framework to construct meaningful connection, Atlas of the Heart could allow you to see love in a whole new light.

Take It In by Giselle La Pompe-Moore

When it comes to love, it can be difficult to feel in control, regardless of where you are on your relationship journey. But, argues spiritual guide Giselle La Pompe-Moore, you can take charge of making the most of your life by harnessing inner strength through everyday spirituality. Take It In combines personal anecdote, practical exercises and delicious no-nonsense advice to help steer you past the self-criticism and inner negative narratives and into a realm of feeling ready for whatever happens in your love life.

Seven Things That Make or Break a Relationship by Paul McKenna

In the aftermath of a break-up – or even just a spectacular row – it can be very easy to sit and pick over who said what, or who started it, or who should have said sorry. Paul McKenna made his name as a life-changing hypnotherapist, and after 30 years of bestselling experience, he’s putting his knowledge and expertise towards love. This is a practical book – one that’s set on fixes to offer practical solutions and ways of personal change: perfect for the reader who’s had enough of bad love.

Conversations in Love by Natasha Lunn

If you’re still searching for the kind of love you see in the movies, then Natasha Lunn can relate. The journalist spent years feeling that love – the kind of stuff that makes people kiss in the rain – just wasn’t for her, so she decided to ask people about it. From Dolly Alderton and Philippa Perry to Lisa Taddeo and Roxane Gay, Lunn’s interviews with fascinating people are bolstered by her own love stories to create this deeply feeling bestseller. Whatever stage of life – or love – you’re in, you’ll benefit from it.

Connect by David L. Bradford and Carole Robin

Love is great, but what’s often overlooked are the foundations: solid interpersonal skills. In this book, David Bradford and Carole Robin dramatically challenge the ideas of how you not only perceive yourself, but also others. Tutors from the legendary ‘Interpersonal Dynamics’ course at Stanford Graduate School of Business, the pair know best how to empower you with key skills such as building trust and navigating conflict. Connect won’t just change your love life, it’ll re-shape how you see all of your relationships.

Manifest by Roxie Nafousi

Sometimes you’ve got to take matters into your own hands. Queen of Manifesting Roxie Nafousi has set 2022 alight with her essential handbook to making you feel more empowered in your life. While manifesting can be applied to all sorts of things – from your career to your home – it can also help cupid to strike as you feel more empowered and emboldened more generally.

Emotional by Leonard Mlodinow

If you want to foster an emotional connection with someone, you've got to understand your own emotions. Leonard Mlodinow mythbusts decades of belief that controlling our emotions is the key to success. Instead, the author and academic argues that how we feel is just as important as how we think when it comes to success - whether that's in our careers, homes or love lives.

What did you think of this article? Email editor@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk and let us know.

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