Looking for a Valentine’s Day gift that’s not candy or flowers? Three new books offer fresh insight on modern love—along with a healthy dose of humor.

BETTER? YOU BET
After nearly 10 years of marriage to her husband Dan, Elizabeth Weil still felt “proud, nearly giddy” about being his wife. She also worried: “Because just as I believed that marriages formed slowly over time, I also believed they broke that way.” Armed with a goal-oriented mindset, Weil decided she and Dan would embark on a year-long marriage improvement project and proactively address things that weren’t such a big deal at the moment—e.g., their laissez-faire approach to money management, differing marital role models—but might become problems later. From religion (should they raise their daughters Jewish?) to food (he brings home and cooks entire animals, she’s not thrilled) to partnership (they swim in a punishing race from Alcatraz to San Francisco), No Cheating, No Dying explores the ways in which two people can form and strengthen bonds—or accept some things just the way they are. This is an eminently enjoyable tale of a committed, kooky couple and an excellent resource for doing a relationship tune-up of your own.

100 SIMPLE RULES
Clinical psychologist Harriet Lerner is perhaps best known for her bestseller The Dance of Anger, but she’s also written books on motherhood, fear, sex and more. In ­Marriage Rules, she offers rules for long-term relationships. There are 100, but not to worry: They’re straightforward, brief and organized by subject matter, so readers can turn right to sections like “How To Connect with a Distant Partner” and “Forget About Normal Sex.” Lerner’s not trying to be heavy-handed; she suggests readers regard rules “as pretty good ideas to consider. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of our own common sense.” Her list of 100 should do the trick, and anecdotes about all manner of couples, including herself and her husband, demonstrate how the rules can be helpful, when gracefully applied.

THE HILARITY OF LOVE
If it’s by The Onion, it’s gotta be irreverent and funny with a good hit of raunchy, and Love, Sex and Other Natural Disasters doesn’t disappoint. This compendium of “relationship reporting” has hilarious entries galore, from news briefs like “New Girlfriend Bears Disturbing Resemblance to Old Girlfriend” to a report about “Voyeur Concerned About Lack of Sex in Neighbors’ Marriage.” There are dating tips, too, such as: “Do not bathe for several days prior to a date to get your pheromones good and strong,” and “Please, for the love of God, just stop doing that weird chewing thing with your mouth.” With its trademark combination of silly and spot-on, The Onion brain trust has created another laugh-out-loud volume of articles, photos and infographics that will perk up Valentine’s Day for sure.

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