Down With Love: Anti-Valentine's Day books

Category: Reading

We’re not really feeling the love in the Scottish Book Trust office this Valentine’s Day, so we’ve put together a selection of ten books that will probably put you off relationships, hearts and flowers for life! What books would you recommend to restore our faith in Cupid?  

Needless to say, plot spoilers abound in this list!



The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

Young love goes very wrong (there are shotguns involved.)


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

About as sorrowful a tale of star-crossed lovers as you are likely to read. It doesn’t get sadder than horses in love who suffer brutal treatment and an untimely death.

Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

She falls in love with him.  He pretends not to love her.  She marries an old man.  He declares his love to her, she says she still loves him, but can’t do anything about it because she is now married. The end. Groan.


Pan by Knut Hamsun

Unrequited love, rejection, humiliation, love triangles and death – all the ingredients you need for an anti-Valentines wallow.

Spawn by Todd McFarlane.

Al Simmons was a CIA operative is killed by his friend, on the order of his boss, and is sent to hell because of his life as an assassin. He promises to serve Hell’s hierarchy as a Hellspawn if he could see his wife one last time. As you could imagine, making deals with devils doesn’t work out well.


Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates

Yates reveals the misery at the heart of young American couples who on the surface should be happy and content in 1950s suburbia, but for many complex reasons are not.


The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe

The book which is meant to have inspired Mad Men focuses on a group of women in a large office in the 50s. An often bitter look at the misogynistic treatment of women in that era - not a single happy or healthy relationship to be found in the entire novel, but a brilliant read, especially if you’re a Mad Men addict.


Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Unhappy endings all round along with separation, revolution, corruption, assassinations, loneliness and death in the Gulag.


The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

We feel for poor Clifton who is desperately in love with his wife for years, finally marries her and then has to watch her slip into another man’s arms. Whichever side you fall down on they all end up dead because of love.


The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers

A love triangle (they never work out well) between lonely, androgynous Miss Amelia, Cousin Lymon who’s an ailing hunchback and wicked Marvin Macy, Miss Amelia’s ex-husband. It has a Brothers Grimm fairy tale quality to it.


Are you feeling the love today? Want to add some fuel to our funeral pyre of romantic fiction, or can you suggest some titles that defend love's true power?