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Books for when you can’t stop thinking about your ex

by Joe Nasta 9 months ago in book reviews
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Happy Valentine's Day! Who are you thinking of?

Books for when you can’t stop thinking about your ex
Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

I just realized that Valentine’s Day is actually one of my favorite holidays, which came as a surprise despite the demonstrated fact that I am fully addicted to love – brief, timeless, imaginary, accidental, decisive, stabilizing, elusive, contradictory love! It’s both excruciating and delicious. Between all the red and pink wrappers around heart-shaped chocolates, mass-printed notes with cartoon characters or cliché expressions of admiration, and the shelves stocked with a Romance for every reader that I’m sitting next to (at Third Place Books) I can’t help but think about all the love I’ve felt in my silly little life.

Of course, the most intense memories of all are about the one who got away. Whether you relish these thoughts and want a book to guide your indulgence or prefer a savory distraction from the sadder aspects, every book on this list is perfect for when you can’t stop thinking about your ex.


by Dolly Alderton

purchase & support Third Place Books here!

Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is all about relationships across time, longing, friendship, and of course what it feels like to be ignored by someone you adore. It follows Nina’s reckoning with her changing relationships as she enters a new phase of her life with a funny and poignant first-person narrative that will make you laugh, cry, and sometimes cringe. “I was interested in looking at how [an optimistic and simplistic attitude towards relationships] comes under threat as the textures of friendships change, the circumstances of each other’s lives change, how difficult it is to retain the intimacy and a sense of who you are together,” Alderton said of the book in an interview with Penguin.


by North Morgan

purchase & support Third Place Books here!

This novel by North Morgan, who signed copies of the book at a 2018 reading with the inscription, “THINK OF ME WHEN YOU’RE LONELY," lays bare the ache of intense desire that can only be filled by the idea of a person for so long. Konrad moves from London to LA after breaking up with his boyfriend, then immediately throws himself into the rhythms of the gay social scene & the long-distance lust of the internet. Self-sabotage, delusion, and thrilling ecstasy ensue.

The Pisces

by Melissa Broder

purchase & support Third Place Books here!

Melissa Broder explores fantasy, desire, emptiness, and the line between the possible & impossible in this stunning and unputdownable novel. The story follows Lucy, an academic perpetually working on her dissertation about gaps of knowledge in Sappho’s poetry, as she begins a romance with a merperson in Venice Beach. “The merperson really embodies all of the characteristics … of that fantasy love that might kill you, but that you kind of want to be sublimated into,” Broder said in a Meet the Author Youtube video.

Abandon Me

by Melissa Febos

purchase & support Third Place Books here!

In this stunning book of lyric essays, Melissa Febos writes about abandonment, family, transformation, and a romantic relationship that she described to Guernica as “an unprecedented kind of rapture – excruciating but also spectacular.” The writing is honest and raw, and the essays incorporate threads from other disciplines like psychology, philosophy, and history.


by Liska Jacobs

purchase & support Third Place Books here!

Liska Jacobs (whose new novel “The Pink Hotel” comes out in July) stuns in her debut. It follows Elsa on a journey of nostalgia, disillusionment, destruction, and want as she returns to Los Angeles after an affair with her boss at MoMA in New York costs her job. She ventures on a sailing trip to Catalina Island with friends from her past, including her ex-husband. When Jacobs talked about the book with Electric Literature, she said, “[Elsa’s] crisis is also about memory, which works two-fold. Elsa will replay a memory and judge what she said or did, or if the memory is painful it’s easier for her to put distance between herself and the incident. It’s something I think we all do.”

Together and By Ourselves

by Alex Dimitrov

purchase & support Third Place Books here!

This poetry book defies easy description but plays with our needs for connection and distance, our longings for meaning and emptiness, and our questions about who we are and what we want out of life. I carried this book everywhere with me for months, re-entering and reading aloud each line time and again – reading this book is comforting, eerie, and undeniably personal. Dimitrov told Columbia Journal, “I wanted those poems to be moods. I wanted them to be a sensual experience … It’s like going for a swim late at night in a warm lit pool in some house where you’re staying alone in the desert.” If you find the swim refreshing, check out his 2021 book “Love and Other Poems” as well.

Anyhow, Happy Valentine's Day :P

Joe Nasta (ze/zir) is a queer writer and mariner based in Seattle. Joe is one half of the art and poetry collective Eat Yr Manhood with Cass Garison. Zir first book can be read for free on issuu and zir work has been published in The Rumpus, Entropy, PRISM International, Peach Mag, and others. Ze co-curates a zine of unconventional art and writing at stonepacificzine.com and is currently part of the 2022 Collective Autonomous in Practice Cohort with the Operating System/Liminal Lab.

book reviews

About the author

Joe Nasta

Hi! I'm Joe (ze/zir), a queer multimodal artist and writer. I work in Seattle & I write love poems.

@roflcoptermcgee on Instagram

@joenasta on TikTok

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