Metaphorical and Anatomical Heart in Literature


8 books on Heart Attack and Heart Disease, Heartache and Heartbreak.

Issue no. 2: matters of the heart
Sarah Cuddie


Whether it’s fact or fiction, every story is somehow connected to the heart. Sometimes it’s the anatomical heart, the muscle the size of a fist that keeps us alive, and sometimes it’s the metaphorical one, the source of love. Every so often, a book explores the place where both hearts collide. Here are eight titles that walk the line somewhere between the heart, which keeps us alive, and the feeling that makes it all worth it.



Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Basherdoust

This story centers on two young women, one with a heart of glass, and one made of snow. The complicated familial love between stepmother and daughter at the heart of Snow White plays out alongside romance and a love of power, and affects every choice these women make. This story about learning to love with a heart of made of glass is particularly beautiful.

The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie and a World Transformed by Judy Shepard

Navigating complicated family relationships only becomes more difficult in the face of grief and loss. Matthew Shepard is commonly known as the victim of an anti-gay hate crime, but he was also a son, brother, and imperfect person like the rest of us. This book written by his mother, Judy Shepard, describes the maternal heartache that came before Matthew’s murder, and the heartbreak which followed it. Under the microscope of public opinion, Judy finds a way through her grief, keep her family together, and continue to show unconditional love for her son.

A Matter of the Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy

Unconditional love can help keep us going when our anatomical heart lets us down. In this book, a competitive swimmer with Olympic dreams is diagnosed with a heart condition that flips her world upside down. This well-researched book paints a picture of the ways that your physical health can lead to heartbreak, ripping your dreams from your hands, and leaving you holding on to your family and friends.

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein

Friends often help carry us through the most difficult moments in life. One successful heart transplant is considered a miracle, but Amy Silverstein was looking for a second one — 26 years later. This memoir shows what happens when your miracle heart lets you down, and how the people around you can lift you up. Silverstein gives us a picture of the medical and emotional journey of organ transplants, and the love that keeps people alive.

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

Sometimes the only part of someone that you can keep alive is a memory, and the organs that they donated to another person. This book follows the perspectives of both an organ donor’s twin, and the recipient who gets a second chance. The story is set in motion by a single heart transplant, and tied together by a dash of magical realism, an unlikely love story, and some difficult conversations about mental illness.

Heart Matters: Memoirs of a Female Heart Surgeon by Dr. Kathy Magliato

On the other side of the operating table, there are surgeons like Dr. Kathy Magliato, a Director of Women’s Cardiac Services. In Heart Matters, she shares what it was like to rise as a surgeon in a male-dominated specialty, and trying to live a life that makes her happy. She also offers insight into heart disease, the number one killer of women, and how her research, perspectives, and values have been informed by the people that she has met during the scariest moments of their lives.

Meet Cute: Some People are Destined to Meet by Jennifer Armentrout and thirteen others

For some of us, the moment when two people meet is the best part of a love story. Fourteen young adult authors are featured in this short story collection, and it’s nothing but meet cutes. Unlike many rom-coms, this collection skips the heteronormativity and the gender essentialism, showcasing a variety of people as they find the one, or the one for right now.

Data, a Love Story: How I Cracked the Online Dating Code to Meet My Match by Amy Webb

Sometimes meet cutes can leave you rolling your eyes, because they almost never happen in real life. But online dating is very real, and Amy Webb was determined to find a way to her "happily ever after." Tired of bad dates, Webb looks at the algorithms and the pseudo-science behind popular sites to weed out the one night stands and offensive messages, and gives us all some tips on how to crack the code, and find our match.