5 Picks for The Most Romantic Books of All Time
Love: One Little Word That Encompasses So Much
Love will keep us together. We found love. Crazy in love. Over the years, countless singers have waxed poetic about it, and in just a few days, thousands of candy hearts, numerous chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, and way too many overpriced bouquets will be purchased in celebration of it. While I wouldn’t consider myself a die-hard romantic, I do enjoy a little love story (preferably with a twist) from time to time. And so, in celebration of the most heartfelt holiday of the year, here are my picks for the top 5 most romantic books of all time:
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (352 pages) (Published April 8, 2014)
The only thing more powerful than teen angst is teen love, and this book has plenty of it. The Fault in Our Stars has sold millions of copies, topped numerous bestseller lists, and was adapted into a movie starring pre-Divergent Shailene Woodley. But most importantly, it’s a love story about Hazel, who experiences a tumor-shrinking medical miracle that buys her a few more years of life. Enter Augustus Waters, whom she meets at Cancer Kid Support Group. Augustus rocks her world and takes her on an epic journey that will have you holding back tears.
Why Read It
While it’s a bold and raw exploration of the funny and thrilling ride of being in love and alive, the line that has stayed with me all these years is from, ironically, Hazel’s mother. She only wants the best for her daughter, even if it means being overprotective because of her condition. One night, during a severe medical episode, Hazel overhears her mother telling her that it’s alright to let go. She remembers her mom sobbing into her dad’s chest, saying, “I won’t be a mom anymore.”
If that’s not also a powerful love story – one between parent and child – I don’t know what is.
4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (336 pages) (Published February 26, 2013)
I love the ‘80s almost as much as I love misfit characters who manage to find solace in each other. Imagine my pleasant surprise to find a book that features both!
Set over the course of one school year in 1986 (check!), this is a story of two star-crossed misfits (and check!) – Eleanor and Park – who meet on the school bus and bond over their shared love of music.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mixtapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. While they are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, they are brave enough to try to prove everyone wrong – including Eleanor’s abusive stepfather.
Why Read It
This book will take you back in time and make you feel all the feels of young love, in the best possible ways.
3. PS. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern (384 pages) (Published February 1, 2004)
What happens when childhood sweethearts, who could finish each other’s sentences and laugh through anything, are separated by cancer? No one could imagine Holly without Gerry, and vice versa, but just because he dies from cancer, doesn’t mean he’s done having her back.
With Holly’s 30th birthday looming, Gerry finds his way back to her, guardian angel style, in the form of monthly notes that challenge her to step out of her comfort zone so she can make her way back to herself – and into a new life without him. Each note, of course, is signed with ‘PS I Love You’.
Why Read It
I loved the unique premise of this book, which was the writer’s debut more than 15 years ago. It will leave you laughing, crying, and appreciating the bravery it takes to let go (even just a little) so one can move on.
2. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (411 pages) (Published June 11, 2013)
While this one made all of the bestseller lists and is an outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families, at its heart it’s a story about what one is willing to sacrifice in the name of love.
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.
Did I mention the scheming future mother-in-law intent on verbally tearing her apart? Who still stop at nothing to ensure her baby boy marries the “right” person?
Why Read It
I loved this book for its refreshing diversity, over-the-top gossiping and scheming, and the clash between old and new money. It’s a fabulous take on what it means to be young, in love, and crazy rich
1. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (272 pages) (Published December 1, 1999)
A book read by a man to a woman with Alzheimer’s who just happens to be his wife? Did I mention he wrote that book about their love story to help her remember? My gawd, you had me at “a book read by a man”, but I digress.
Perhaps one of the greatest love stories of all time, The Notebook has all the elements of a classic romance novel – a boy from the wrong side of the tracks falls for a girl visiting a sleepy North Carolina town for the summer.
At 31, Noah Calhoun is haunted by images of the girl he lost more than a decade earlier. At 29, socialite Allie Nelson is about to marry a wealthy lawyer, but she cannot stop thinking about the boy who long ago stole her heart. Brought together again by fate, can these star-crossed lovers beat the odds and make a life together that will endure the test of time?
Why Read It
Switching between stories of their young love and a man and woman who call their retirement residence home, this book reinforces the idea that true love can be ageless and timeless – and holds the power to transform us.
*Bonus: My Galentine’s Day Pick: Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flag (528 pages) (Published March 9, 1993)
With Galentine’s Day on February 13th (a nonofficial holiday for “ladies celebrating ladies”), I would be remiss if I did not include at least one love story celebrating female friendship.
This now-classic novel opens with two women in a nursing home in Birmingham, Alabama: Evelyn, who’s in the sad slump of middle age, and gray-haired Mrs. Threadgoode, who’s telling her life story. Her tale includes two more women – the irrepressibly daredevil tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth. Together, the two women ran a little place in the 1930s in Whistle Stop, Alabama, offering good coffee, southern barbecue, and all kinds of love and laughter – not to mention an occasional (if not justified) murder.
Why Read It
While the story provides hope – and motivation – to Evelyn, the reader is drawn into the story of Idgie and Ruth, who prove what we’ve known all along: Men may come and go, but the power of female friendship can pull you through some of the darkest times.
Pulling At HeartStrings
So there you have it. Love them or hate them, each story provided a few twists and turns, ultimately pulling at my heartstrings. The characters were compelling and (almost) every story made me believe in the transformative power of love, thanks to the talented performers who brought these stories to life on the big screen. Isn’t that what a good story should do?
So whether you’re curling up with a good book, sharing a plate of spaghetti with a new love (Lady and The Tramp style), or spending time with those little ones who bring you so much joy, here’s wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
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Andrea Querido is a 40-ish book-loving, introverted word nerd who’s passionate about connection, self-care, personal growth, creating community and, of course, books!
Favourite book: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favourite brunch spot: Anywhere I don’t have to cook.