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Written by Lília

With Valentine’s Day falling at mid-month, February is the LOVE month, and in this Staff Picks, Luke and Iris talk about books related to love—in all its forms. We put our heads together and came up with some interesting recommendations.

We start with a tip from one of our newest colleagues, Zeynep: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk.

Zeynep says: “It’s a book that makes you question the difference between love and obsession.”

Sophie—and Simone— recommend The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. This novel is about the friendship between a housekeeper, her small child and a professor whose head injury leaves him with only 80 minutes of short-term memory. Their interactions start very awkwardly, but slowly their bonds continue to grow.

According to Sophie: “One of the sweetest reads I know. It’s one of those books that gives dignity and respect to a difficult situation like the professor’s. If you enjoyed the film Past Lives, you’ll probably like this book, too.”

Shirley loves Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match by Sally Thorne. Angelika takes body parts from the morgue and asks her brother Victor to create the perfect man. But what if after all the effort, he’s just not that into you?

Even though Emma V. hasn’t read One Day by David Nicholls, she loved the movie and recommends the book to those who prefer reading to watching. It’s a romantic but heartbreaking story about two friends, Emma and Dexter, who meet at a university graduation and remain friends, even though they are very different people.

Emma V. says: “I love how the characters complement each other. Dexter makes Emma brave, and Emma makes Dexter aware of the importance of friends and family.”

Lorcana is a new trading card game from Disney recommended by Max M. that features playable cards with many Disney characters in a game system very similar to Magic the Gathering, which itself started as a trading card game and spawned books, gamebooks and many other items.

Isabelle – and Iris! – recommend The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz.

Isabelle says: “This is a sweet and gentle story about a technician and a robot who fall in love. Although this book may be short, it isn’t at all lacking in depth. I’m a huge fan of books that make me think, and this book invites philosophical/existential questions such as: What makes us human? Is it our ability to learn new things? A robot can do that, or is it our ability to feel? An AI has sensors that can be programmed to feel just about anything. This set against the backdrop of a cozy tea shop combined with asexual representation made for an extraordinary read.”

Gwen and Art are Not in Love by Lex Croucher is Natalia’s recommendation. She says: “Very funny, queer love story inspired by the legend of King Arthur and lots of laugh-out-loud moments. Art and Gwen’s story is well-written, and you might love or hate it, but you stick with them until the end. Lex Croucher took many liberties with the legend, and I’m glad they did because I needed an LGBTQ+ take on it.”

As an avid reader of romance and romantasy, Naomi recommends the Galactic Bonds duology: Only Bad Options and Only Good Enemies by Jennifer Estep. Vesper, a lab researcher, and Kyrion, an assassin, discover they have a psionic link they need to keep hidden in order to uncover a dangerous conspiracy.

Naomi says: “It’s very easy to root for them as a couple and as people since they are both smart, competent and determined. This is a slow-burn romantic space opera with magical elements, a lot of action, political intrigue and excellent world-building. All around a very fun read.”

My Effin’ Life by Geddy Lee is Luke’s recommendation. Geddy Lee is a singer and one of the world’s best bass players. He also composes for the Canadian band Rush. He even came to visit the ABC Amsterdam store a few years back.

Naomi also recommends the non-fiction book Ace by Angela Chen. A very famous book in the asexual community, it’s the “go to” book if you want to read more about the topic.

Naomi: “It was an eye-opening and extremely validating book for me. If you want to learn more about asexuality, heteronormativity and amatonormativity, this is an excellent place to start.” It’s sort of the primer on Aceness.

“Angela Chen is asexual, and her anecdotes and personal journey guide you through the book while you explore society’s expectations about love and relationships through an asexual lens. She includes interviews with a variety of Ace voices for an intersectional exploration of the Ace spectrum. This is a very intelligent, well-written and accessible book.”

Iris says: “Even if you’re not part of a certain community, it’s always good to broaden your horizons and read about something you don’t experience yourself, to learn about the issues people face that are different from those you face yourself.”

After all, love has many different faces and interpretations.