Welcome to the final day of the Week of Love, where we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day by reflecting on some of the things we love in life. I’m sure you’ve been expecting this post to pop up this week… we’re talking about books today!

This list was hard to put together because when I thought, “What books do I love?” I immediately had to start sorting through the hundreds that came to mind. Okay, maybe not hundreds, but a lot. I was able to narrow the list down to these five and I’m very happy with this list.

THE GARGOYLE BY ANDREW DAVIDSON

A porn star is badly burned when he swerves to avoid the flaming arrows he sees coming at him in a drug-induced hallucination and drives off a cliff. Burned beyond recognition, he starts planning for his release from the hospital when a woman bursts into his room and exclaims, “You’ve been burned, again!” Marianne Engel—a sculptress of grotesques, who’s completing a stay in the psych ward—starts to visit him to tell him of their life together over the centuries, as well as other tales of love.

I raved about this book last year. It’s been a favorite of mine for a while. It digs into different periods of history as it tells the tale of characters from different places around the world. Dante’s Inferno plays a big role in the story and Marianne Engel is one of my favorite characters—if not my favorite character—that I have ever encountered in a story. Like I said, I raved about this book last year, so if you’d like a more detailed review you can go read that post. The people that I have recommended this book to have also loved it and it makes for an excellent audiobook as well; Lincoln Hoppe was the perfect voice for the narrator of this story. I always like to give people a heads up that this book has detailed descriptions of treatment for severe burns, but don’t let that turn you away from the book if it sounds interesting, because it really is a great story!

NIGHT FILM BY MARISHA PESSL 

When the body of the daughter of a cult horror filmmaker is found, her death is ruled a suicide, but an investigative reporter who ruined his career and his marriage investigating filmmaker years earlier isn’t convinced, so he starts to look into her death.

I love this book! I’ve seen a lot of complaints about it. I’ve heard that it’s too long, and I’d agree that there are parts that drag a bit. (I pretty much say that for every book that I read, though, so sometimes I think I just get distracted sometimes.) I’ve heard that the ending was disappointing, and I’d agree that I wasn’t 100% satisfied. But. This book was so much fun to read! It’s a little creepy, but not scary. It introduces the reader to some fascinating characters and takes the reader to some interesting places. There are twists and turns. And this book is an experience. If you generally read on an eReader, I highly recommend getting a physical copy of this book, because the author includes photos and newspapers that just wouldn’t be the same (and I’ve heard are hard to look through/read) on an eReader.

THE BEACH HOUSE BY MARY ALICE MONROE 

A woman returns to her childhood home in North Carolina to spend some time with her aging mother, with whom she has a tense relationship, while going through a divorce.

This is the first book set in the low country that I read and completely fell in love with books that take place there. I read this book about every year and a half to two years and I love it each time. I love stories about tense relationships and this one has that. I also fell in love with sea turtles while reading this book. Monroe is a “turtle lady” and writes in great detail about them in this book. I absolutely loved that aspect of it. The characters feel very real to me, because while I love them all, they can also frustrate me at times throughout. It’s a wonderful book and if you’re looking for something that focuses on a mother/daughter relationship that takes place by the ocean (and with sea turtles!) this is a great book to check out.

AFTER DARK BY HARUKI MURAKAMI 

The book follows four characters between midnight and dawn in Tokyo.

 This is another book that I read every couple of years. (Actually, all of these books are and I’m sure Night Film will become one of those.) This was my first introduction to Murakami and I love it. It’s a strange book and you don’t always know exactly what’s going on, but I love that it focuses on those nighttime hours that are kind of strange if you’re out and about anyway.

NORTHANGER ABBEY BY JANE AUSTEN 

Inspired by Austen’s favorite Gothic stories, a young woman stays with a friend in a mansion and feels the house might be filled with secrets.

It’s kind of amazing to see a Jane Austen novel on this list because for the longest time I expressed a dislike of her writing. I’d finish her first three-page long sentence and close the book. But I had to read this for a class one year and I loved it! It’s not surprising that a Gothic novel drew me in, but I’ve read a couple of her novels since then and liked them. If you’re a fan of Austen, classics and/or Gothic novels, definitely check this out!

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU LOVE?

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