Whimsically hopeful and wholeheartedly raw, Will Darbyshire’s This Modern Love is the perfect gift for yourself or someone you love during this pink-and-red trimmed season. It can be difficult to devour a dense novel during the busy semester. Luckily, this beautiful, little book encompasses a multitude of letters and artworks that are quick, lovely and addicting to peruse. 

This Modern Love is a pleasant and easy read—I sometimes throw the paperback into my coat pocket before heading out the door. It could hardly be considered a ‘commitment’ to find time to read this little masterpiece, as it is undoubtedly a worthwhile and manageable undertaking for any species: bookworm, lovebird or otherwise.

Darbyshire is a British filmmaker, writer and director well known across social media platforms, particularly for his Youtube channel (Will Darbyshire) and Instagram (@willdarbyshire), as a creator of short cinematic and thoughtful videos about love, travel, his insecurities and some ponderings on life.

In curating this passionate portfolio, Darbyshire sifted through over 15,000 ardent and heartfelt submissions from all over the world in an attempt to accurately represent 21st-century love. This Modern Love is split into three parts for the beginning, middle and end of a relationship––from crushes to break-ups. Wherever you lie in the spectrum, the three parts inspire an overflow of nostalgia, longing, grief, happiness, hope and empathy. 

The interesting and unique part of this project is that the myriad of messages chosen are not all sappy or trite. They are messy, funny and self-reflective when they want to be. Additionally, the art and photographs stand out as imperative and intriguing additions to the personal words of the letters. 

The prompt for these art submissions was that they could be really anything that the individual felt captured “love.” Whether that be a picture of someone meaningful to them, a bouquet of flowers or a particularly riveting sunrise, the purposeful selection and arrangement of the visual art and written pieces throughout the book add to the power and intrigue of subjective beauty. 

It seems that—considering all of the curious musings, the saccharine odes and the therapeutic rantings and ramblings—this book served as a sincere act of sharing love or letting go of it for the writers. However, the charm of the book is that it is equally therapeutic to the audience reading their words afterward. Since the universal endeavors of love and loss are innately human inside and outside of the 21st-century, despite age or location, the book is eternally relevant and relatable. 

There is an oddness about the author popping in so rarely, simply to provide an introduction or two, but it seems that that is the point of the project: a medley of regular people sharing experiences in love. With that being said, Darbyshire did a beautiful job selecting and arranging these particular professions of love into a relatively succinct little bundle that never fails to draw you back for more.

This book gives its readers a glimpse at the increasing complexity of love in the modern day, while encapsulating the timeless emotion that so many have written about before. Darbyshire's book gives voice to the individual while still relating to the larger human experience. 

While This Modern Love is a cute and inspiring accessory to your coat pocket for any time of the year, I recommend this book for the month of February specifically as we have an excuse to be sappy and reflective about love for these particular 29 days.

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