It may be true that all men are created equal, but history has proven that no two love stories are written—or read—the same.
Love has fascinated humanity since the dawn of time. People from all fields of knowledge have attempted to capture love’s essence, pinpoint its complexities and define its nuances.
We create art, sing songs, make movies and even set up experiments all in pursuit of love.
Romance stories, in particular, are ubiquitous expressions of humanity’s desire not only to understand love, but to find it as well. From William Shakespeare and Jane Austen to Nora Roberts and John Green, love stories can be found in almost all genres of literature.
This love month, Super gives you the lowdown on “romance” books that take a fresh or different approach to describing one of life’s greatest mysteries.
‘A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments’
French philosopher Roland Barthes painstakingly studies the intricacies of love and the language of lovers using the tools of structuralism. Thought-provoking and insightful, “A Lover’s Discourse” defines and explores feelings and words associated with being in love and its different nuances: Unrequited love, desire, tenderness, love at first sight, etc. Don’t be intimidated by Barthes’ “academic” writing. Though this book is no light reading, it is arguably the best love-story-without-a-story ever written.
‘Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time’
Music and love go hand in hand. There are songs that will always evoke memories, bitter or sweet, of past loves. Rolling Stone magazine columnist Rob Sheffield has always viewed his life against the backdrop of popular hit songs. In “Love is a Mix Tape,” he uses songs from 15 mix tapes to recount how his love of music started, and the brief yet poignant time he had with wife Renee Crist. By showing us a glimpse of the soundtrack of his life, Sheffield reveals how music brought him love and helped him get through a heartbreaking loss.
‘Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo?’
Internet celebrity and self-described action star Ramon Bautista puts into book format his answers to life and love queries asked through his now defunct Formspring account. In “Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo?,” Bautista acts as the Internet’s “agony uncle,” dispensing both love and life advice that are honest and, in his words, “without drama or romanticizing.” Not at all obnoxious, Bautista’s tough-love approach to dilemmas of the heart is both helpful and hilarious, showing that, at the end of the day, though life and love are often messy, having a sense of humor goes a long way.
‘Reportage on Lovers’
National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin, a.k.a. Quijano de Manila, tells the stories of factual, real-life romances that made the news in “Reportage on Lovers.” Be it the curious case of a bigamist or the transcontinental romance of a ballerina and a Yugoslavian refugee, Joaquin proves the adage, “Life imitates art,” with his stories, about Filipinos falling in love, that are the stuff of movies.
‘Four Letter Word: New Love Letters’
Edited by Joshua Knelman and Rosalind Porter, “Four Letter Word” examines the dying art of love letter writing. The book features fictional love letters written by renowned authors including Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Jeannette Winterson and Douglas Coupland, among others. In her introduction, Porter says she was “amazed by how many (of the authors) typify love as a feeling that evolves through absence, rejection or death. A few of them don’t even involve another person; a number take on the form of an apology.” The love depicted in these letters is varied and maybe a little crazy—from the cute (Mandy Sayer’s love letter of a young boy to his teacher) to the interplanetary (Jonathan Lethem’s letter of Mars to Earth) to the desperate (Lionel Shriver’s e-mails of a woman still under the throes of passion after a one-night stand).