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Sick of The Bachelorette? Here Are Some Anti-Love Reads

Being a friend sometimes means sitting with your bestie or roommate and watching The Bachelorette together, bringing chips and salsa to the big finale screening party, and genuinely pretending to care. If you’re like me, this kind of reality programming just doesn’t quite capture your attention, and you need a little secret cynicism to get you through the rose ceremonies of the newest season. Sneak in your e-reader and get these six books, which take a more depressing look at romance. And pro-tip: you can always come back to this list when The Bachelor rolls around again.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

by Gillian Flynn

Nothing gives you a dark look at love like watching a marriage fall apart, especially between a selfish jerk and a psychopath. Nick and Amy look like the perfect couple, but when Amy disappears, their faults soon become apparent. At first, we see Nick as the abusive and angry partner, having taken Amy away from her life, forced her into domesticity, and beaten her. And while some of that is true, at second glance things might not be as they first appeared.... To say any more would be a disservice to the book. Watching the story from their two perspectives, through the twists and turns, will make anyone wary about those Instagram-perfect couples and reality TV romance. And hey, after you’re done watching The Bachelorette, maybe you can convince the rest of the watch party to enjoy the Gone Girl movie adaptation together.

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How to Say Goodbye In Robot

How to Say Goodbye In Robot

by Natalie Standiford

We’re often, by the media, told that the closest and best relationships are romantic ones—after all, there aren’t any reality shows about people finding new best friends. Still, we are just as likely to fall into a friendship relationship that is as complex and gnarled as it is fulfilling and uplifting. How to Say Goodbye in Robot posits this through the relationship between robotic Bea and lone-wolf Jonah. As they grow closer through their love of John Waters’s films and a late-night talk radio show, it becomes clear that Jonah is keeping Bea at a distance emotionally, and that Bea has her own issues to work out. As these two teens push and pull at each other, their deep conversations and haphazard emotional tango is a good reminder that not every relationship is a fairy tale…or healthy.

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Vacuum in the Dark

Vacuum in the Dark

by Jen Beagin

One’s 20s are for figuring things out. Some people go on The Bachelorette and try to find love. Others are stuck in a love triangle while they clean houses in New Mexico and have Terry Gross (yes, the radio host) as their imaginary friend. But Mona, our protagonist, doesn’t have a story that revolves around love, but rather self-discovery, trying to deal with the trauma of her past. A dark and funny book, Mona’s internal monologue will have you in stitches until she makes an all too poignant remark to set you back on your heels. Still, watching Mona fight against the obstacles and strive toward a better future for herself is inspiring, more than any tearful rose ceremony.

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You (Media Tie-In Edition)

You (Media Tie-In Edition)

by Caroline Kepnes

Having someone be totally into you, to have them pick you out from a crowd and zero in on you, sounds like a dream, and it’s often the plot of romantic books, shows, and movies. We want to feel special, desired, and instantly attractive and lovable. And then came You, a book that reminds you that a lot of the romance genre tropes are about a hair away from being absolutely creepy. The book follows Joe, a bookstore manager who ends up obsessing over a customer, Guinevere, to the point where he is certain they are meant to be together. This means learning everything he can about her, following her around— and killing the people around her. If you want to experience the dark side of love, then tapping into Joe’s inner monologue about just how much he wants her is going to make you feel like you’re staring into a jet-black void of horror. To make it sink in even further, the book is written from the second-person perspective, forcing you to live the hell Guinevere is experiencing. You can also sneak-watch Netflix’s adaptation of the show, if things get too sappy on The Bachelorette.

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Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie

by Joanna Cannon

Sometimes the bonds between best friends are stronger than any romance. Elderly Florence loves her best friend, Elsie, so when she sees a man from their past, a man who tried to hurt Elsie, she desperately tries to warn others about his return. However, being prone to poor memory and losing her articulation, she finds herself stuck. That is, until she decides to start playing the role of detective to suss out just what’s happening and to test if her own memories can be trusted. A caring and pensive narrative with suspense, all viewed through the haze of dementia, Three Things About Elsie is about how love survives, even when it goes unspoken.

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Paper Towns

Paper Towns

by John Green

I’m not here to say that the YA genre prioritizes and idealizes pairing up attractive and willful teens, because the genre has grown and changed a lot in the last decade, and there are plenty of other genres where this kind of pairing perfection plays a key role. But let’s be real here, romance and sex are one of those topics that tend to consume the thoughts of teens. But then comes along acclaimed author John Green to remind readers that, sometimes, our romantic ideas about people are all illusion, and do a disservice to the actual person in front of us. The story of Paper Towns follows Quentin, a teen in love with his neighbor Margo, following a series of clues to her location. However, he comes to see that his perfect vision of her ultimately precludes him from seeing the real Margo, and when she confronts him about the actual reasons he is obsessed with her, Quentin comes to understand it was never love, but fixation. The ideal remedy if you’re feeling like TV is a little too fixated on the picture-perfectness of reality-show love.

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com