“This book might seem very normal on the surface but like in any relationship once you get to know it you’ll realize this book is actually quite weird.”
This quote from the book How To Love: A Guide to Feelings and Relationships for Everyone describes the book perfectly—this is indeed a weird little book. Bursting on the scene with its bright pink cover and characters that look a bit like Easter egg-colored frogs, this book doesn’t exactly offer much guidance. It manages to feel a bit like a hug, nevertheless, with it’s affirmative language and assurance that there is no one-size-fits-all way to find love.
Alex Norris is known for their internet comic series, Webcomic Name, in which every comic has three panels and ends with “oh no” after a realization or complication. The formula sounds simple, but the comics have gained notoriety for being funny, profound, and relatable. How To Love contains a similar kind of humor—lighthearted with a darkly humorous core. But while Webcomic Name owes a lot of its humor to reflecting on our preoccupation and dependence on technology as well as our imminent destruction, How To Love takes a more hopeful, informative approach.
How To Love bills itself as a, “very different guide to relationships of all shapes and sizes,” which is accurate. What’s different about it is that the comics collected here offer quick lessons from a fully inclusive spectrum, discussing straight and queer relationships of all kinds, including asexuality and poly relationships. This feels almost unheard of; while none of these relationship types are given a deep dive, the mere mention is notable. Norris’s comics even brush upon the radical notion that someone can be happy as a single person and not lacking in any way, which is deeply validating to hear in a culture bent on—and even rewarding of—coupling up.
The book covers a wide range of subjects from crushes to consent in a concise package, tackling many different issues that arise when you are dating, starting to date, or trying to maintain a relationship. Among simple and silly illustrations is solid advice that mostly boils down to: you don’t have to do what you think you should do but do what is right for you. While not groundbreaking, it’s an affirmative little book.
Whimsical and wise, How To Love is reminiscent of Nathan Pyle’s Strange Planet, Hyperbole and A Half, the Sarah’s Scribbles books by Sarah Anderson, and other short, Instagrammable comics. As it does cover mature topics, it’s best for older teens and adults.
How To Love A Guide to Feelings & Relationships for Everyone
By Alex Norris
Publisher Age Rating: 14+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)