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Culture, Literature

OX Reads: The Love Issue


The wonderful Kim Harvey, owner of The Mad Hatter Bookshop in Burford and Creative Director of The Burford Literary Festival shares her reading suggestions on this month’s theme.

What could be better than love? From romance to bromance, valentine to galentine to palentine, books are the answer. For a start, there is no such thing as an ex-book. Whether you only read the first page or from cover to cover five times over, every book on your shelf will always be waiting with open arms. Books understand you. They will forgive you when you throw them across the room after reading the last page and they understand why you are crying into your pillow. Books don’t care if you cheat on them by reading the next book and books don’t ask you to change. Put simply, books are the perfect partner to your life. So, whether you have somebody to make you a cuppa whilst you read or you prefer to starfish under your kingsize, here are a few books to cosy up with this February.

The Familiar, by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is the queen of fantasy, best known for her Shadow and Bone series, and it is certainly the season for fantasy. The Familiar is packed with royal ruffles, a lumpy servant girl, alchemy, power, and secrets. This story, set in the Spanish golden age, will wrap you in its velvet pages deep into the night.

Hand in Hand with Love, edited by Simon Avery

This darling poetry anthology is a celebration of queer voices across the ages. From Ancient Greece to Modern Europe, allow yourself to be swept on a journey that redefines its genre. It is also the perfect size to slip into the pocket of your loved one.

The Philosophy of Snoopy, by Charles Schulz

Another pocket-sized gift packed full of joy from the world’s most beloved beagle. This is a book for every age that encourages you to dream big – you might not succeed but just think of the adventures you will have along the way. Life is not always about winning or losing, it’s about living.

Love A Curious History, by Edward Brooke-Hitching

This beautifully illustrated book adorning your coffee table will serve as the perfect reminder that our world can never have too much love. Opening its pages is like opening a glorious cornucopia of jewels. From Welsh love spoons to the erotic paintings discovered beneath the ash of Pompeii, this luscious volume will make you smile, make you gasp, and above all remind you that we live in a world where love is the answer.

The Blink of An Eye by Jo Callaghan

The nights are getting shorter but it’s still the perfect weather to curl up with a good thriller and this one is great. DSC Kat Frank, newly returned from bereavement leave, is unhappy when her boss directs her to lead a pilot program to test the suitability of using an AIDE (Artificially Intelligent Detective Entity) in a police investigation. In our world where AI is all around us, could this be the future? For a debut this is a story that is excellently researched, brilliantly executed, and has a spectacular twist. I warn you; it is a page turner – you might not want to put it down until the very last sentence.

You can find all these books at The Madhatter Bookshop, Burford or order from our online shop at

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