For Valentine’s Day, let’s talk passion… with five new books that deal with sex and love. From Book Babe Ellen Heltzel…
1. “Fire Sermon,” by Jamie Quatro — Speaking of passion… Here’s “Fifty Shades of Gray” for intellectuals, featuring a poet named James and a scholar named Maggie. Both married with children, and yet… Maggie lives a double life full of guilt as she looks for answers from God (thus the book’s title) and her therapist. Can these marriages be saved? Stay tuned.
2. “Straying,” by Molly McCloskey — Affairs Part II… Another marriage, another affair, but as Tolstoy noted, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way… This work of fiction features Alice, a young American in Ireland who has misgivings when she marries an Irishman and is soon plunged into an affair with another. The twist in this case, however, is the relationship between Alice and her mother. Now THERE’S the love story.
3. “The Day She Disappeared,” by Christopher Kent — For those who prefer suspense, skip infidelity and go right to the psychopath… and from there to the murder. This novel about a missing bar maid in England plunges you into the world of the pubs and deserves a #MeToo sticker on the outside. As the book attests, serving drinks to lonely men is not an easy job.
4. “Everything Happens for a Reason… and Other Lies I’ve Loved,” by Kate Bowler. A memoir by a woman suffering from late-stage colon cancer doesn’t sound like a book about love, much less sex. OK, no sex, but in this book the fear of losing love is what makes you cry. Kate Bowler is in her thirties, with a happy marriage and an infant son, when she gets her diagnosis, and her devotion to husband and child outshines her illness. Meanwhile, her lists of what to say and not to a person with terminal illness is worth the price of the book.
5. “How to Fix a Broken Heart,” by Guy Winch — In this TED talk, psychologist Winch gives extra attention to two kinds of lost love that our society fails to honor sufficiently but should: the broken romance (which can hurt as much as divorce) and the loss of a pet (which can bring more grief than the death of a mere human). Winch urges the heartbroken to live in the present as much as possible and practice what he calls “self-compassion.” Grief is real, but its cause is SO yesterday.