This is the only “Not a How To book about love” you will need. How to Love: A Guide to Feelings & Relationships for Everyone is told by Alex Norris (famous for a comic that always ends with Oh No). They are a queer writer, therefore, their book is told from a queer point of view. However, I do not care who you are, what your gender, sexuality or favorite flavor of ice cream is, you will find something to love about How to Love.
The big plot point is that each section deals with something about love or even lack thereof. Whatever you are looking for, you will probably find a chapter dealing with it. Do you love your friends or love in a “relationship” (you and a “romantic” partner) or both? Are you curious about the ins and outs of “good argue” and “bad argue” or that thing called gender? Do you want to play around with who you want to love, regardless of gender? How to deal with loving more than one person and keeping a healthy relationship with everyone? Don’t know what you want? Or what about consent? What about crushes? What about…. please read it!
Now, things are humorous so while we are getting terribly practical advice it is done accessible and relatable. At first I thought this was going to be another “heteronormal” love book. But turns out it covers everything while leaning a bit more queer-perspective or non traditional. This is one of the first books I’ve seen where open or polyamory is discussed in a very simple way and is understandable to those not involved in a relationship like that. The example used: You love multiple friends and family members, therefore, why not potential romantic partners? Also, the idea of alone vs. lonely and how you can be happy alone, but not if you are lonely, is explored. And the solutions are not just about finding someone to “fill that void,” but how you can do that yourself. There is a very strong You
First mentality without being negatively selfish.
I could go on, but the book is so small (yet packed) I would tell you the whole thing! The other thing that is and yet somehow is not packed, is the art. You might know the author/illustrator from their “Oh No” comic. And while they have a very minimalistic approach to things, this book has a punch. Sometimes the art was not to my particular liking (I really have an issue with the main person and their odder shaped head and hats) but it fits things perfectly. Had things been more “realistic” it would have been difficult to show how things are not always “perfectly fitting in” and can be all “wibbly wobbly” when it comes to love. The lack of detail allows you to focus on the topic and the colors are there to draw your eye to the example, but not to take away from the text.
There is no One True Way for love, and Norris is not telling you this is how you need to run your situation, but maybe you can pick up a few tips. I would easily give this to someone who is just starting in love, been in love for more years than I can count, to a partner/spouse, or to a friend with a great sense of humor who will also appreciate a little advice.
I read via an online reader copy. Due mid-November 2023.