Books to ditch your Valentine’s Day date for

Forget burning money on a table for two, instead, indulge in the authors leading the way with self-empowerment and exploration

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Whether you’re single, in a long-term relationship, or ‘cuffing’ for the winter months, we think this Valentine’s Day season of enforced corporate romance is the perfect time to invest some energy in getting to know yourself a little better, because in the depths of February, of all times, your emotional well-being is your most valuable asset, and fuck waiting for someone else to recognise that. Here are five vulnerable, brave and beautiful books by authors leading the way in terms of self-empowerment and self-exploration to indulge in for yourself this Valentine’s Day.

EXCAVATION: A MEMOIR BY WENDY C. ORTIZ

Quite literally an excavation into her past, in this important memoir Ortiz explores the dangerous sexual relationship she had with a teacher 15 years her senior as a young teenager in the San Fernando Valley of the late 1980s and early 90s. Reflecting on the girl she once was, as well as the teacher and parent she has become, Ortiz’s captivating prose never shys away from the complicated realities of her experiences. She faces them head on. As Lidia Yuknavitch put it: ‘The time has finally arrived when women are telling the truth – the hard truths, the messy, glorious, loud, tender, screeching corporeal truths--about their lives as they live them and not lived as we are asked to live them. Wendy C. Ortiz's writing will rearrange your DNA.’

I'M VERY INTO YOU BY KATY ACKER & MCKENZIE WARK

The heated correspondence that makes up this book was written over the course of two weeks in 1995 following a brief fling between authors Kathy Acker and McKenzie Wark while she was on tour in his native Australia. Later, exchanging emails over 7500 miles of airspace in the early days of the internet, the two writers maintained a frank openness about their personal lives while simultaneously, gingerly figuring out and expressing their feelings towards one another. ‘You reminded me of who I prefer to be.’ [M.W]

Described as ‘a Plato’s Symposium for the twenty-first century, but written for queers, transsexuals, nerds, and book geeks’, this voyeuristic, epistolary saga gives us a unique insight into the lives of two artists at a time when they were as passionate about each other as they were their work. I’m Very Into You presents us with the guilty pleasure of gossip at its very smartest.

PITY THE ANIMAL BY CHELSEA HODSON

Pity The Animal, a chapbook length lyrical essay exploring the concept of human submission and commodification by way of window displays, wild animals, performance art, and sugar daddy dating websites is a tightly woven, Marina Abramovic inspired masterpiece, containing, on the first page, the line: ‘I kept trying to override my heartbreak with poignancy’. In a recent interview, Hodson stated, ‘I needed to be reminded that there were more beautiful things than my broken heart. ’This cult classic, already out of print, is now available as an ebook from Emily Books.

THE DO-IT-YOURSELF GUIDE TO FIGHTING THE BIG MOTHERFUCKIN' SAD BY ADAM GNADE

This pocket-sized zine can be useful all year round, but especially during this time of year when it’s dark and it’s cold and there’s so much extra pressure placed on being distinctly not lonely. It’s a self-help book with a DIY-punk attitude, full of friendly practical reminders to help you get by when you just want to hide under the covers and straight-shooting advice for whenever you’re ready to get out of a slump. Like a phone call from your best friend after a bad day at work, the compassion and sincerity in these pages can kickstart you into a happier and healthier state of mind. One to keep on your bedside table as a go-to read for whenever you need an uplifting boost.

I MUST BE LIVING TWICE BY EILEEN MYLES

Treating yourself to the selected works of Eileen Myles, 368 pages of poetry by a woman who has made her life in the art and poetry worlds of New York City, is the ultimate way to invest in yourself this Valentine’s Day. Bringing together selections from her previous books alongside brand new poems and exploring a full spectrum of the human experience, charting growth, emotional awareness and the development towards maturity, Myles is a veritable rockstar of contemporary literature. And this book serves as an in-depth guide on how to make peace with oneself over the course of a lifetime. Something we all need, especially now!

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