February 14 will be here before you know it and that means it’s time to start feeling the love. Of all the winter holidays, Valentine’s Day is probably the one that the fewest people look forward to. If you’re in a relationship, it means an obligatory dinner at a fancy restaurant, flowers, chocolates, heart-shaped everything, teddy bears holding balloons and who knows what else…which makes it seem like a holiday that is a bit oversold. If you’re not in a relationship, at worst it’s an annoying reminder that you’re single and at best it’s a good reason to stay in and watch Netflix in your pj’s. No matter what stance you hold on Valentine’s Day, I hope you can agree that it is a nice reminder that love exists and is a very powerful force. If you need some inspiration to start feeling the love, here are nine of my favorite books about love that will (in one way or another) prep you for February 14.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – One of my absolute favorite books. The world that Fitzgerald creates in this novel is one in which we would all love to be a part. If you haven’t read this classic, but you’ve seen the movie…then it is a must that you read it at least once.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – This book is the shortest out of the bunch. I’m a slow reader and even I was able to finish it in a day and a half (meal breaks included). There’s something seductive about unrequited love stories covering many decades that gets us all. The characters and love is far from perfect, which makes the story and its characters more identifiable. Marquez’s novel believes that lovesickness is an actual illness and that notion alone had me sold that this book is worth reading.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – If I could have lunch with any of the authors in this list, it would be Jane. I could have added more of her books to this list, but I didn’t want to make the other authors jealous. This book is a classic, which means that it will always be relevant and noteworthy when speaking about love stories. If you’re in need of a strong heroine these days, then this book is for you.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence – In the mood for a controversial former banned book? Then this is the one for you. It may be a little more than risqué (obscene, raunchy, shocking maybe?), but it is a book that has stood on its own for decades because of its other qualities. Lawrence looks at class, relationships, the ways in which the mind and body understand things. If you pick this one up, you might be fearful of receiving funny looks from strangers at coffee shops when you pull it out of your bag, but we live in a post-Fifty Shades of Grey America so you’ll probably get nothing more than a side eye.
Outlander (book 1) by Diana Gabaldon – This is the first book in the series and it is rather long. If you like romance novels with a time travel element, then this one is for you.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks – Nicholas Sparks is to mass market paperback love stories what Stephen King is to…well, mass market paperback horror stories…perfection. Do I even need to tell you about this one? I thought not.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – This book was an unexpected hit for me. I picked it up years ago when I was working at a bookstore in Manhattan, because a lot of customers had come in requesting it. Krauss weaves interconnecting stories so well that you are not quite sure how they are related. Every story within the book has to do with real characters who love, lose, fall, get back up, and look to find a place in the world that is meaningful. It is a gorgeous book that is perfect for someone who wants to trust where the writer will take them.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway – Oh, young Ernie. How can you not love Ernest Hemingway? This book is set in Italy during the Great War when Hemingway was very young and new to love. It is not Hemingway’s best novel or even the most well-written on the list, but I appreciate it for the story behind it and for his interest in the mundane with regard to love and war.
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare – Okay, this one is a play. I’m aware of this fact; however, it is my favorite Shakespeare play and the first one that I was ever able to read the entire way through without needing to look at SparkNotes. For some reason, this story bounces off the page to me. It is a mix of classic love story and comedy of errors (think Cyrano de Bergerac meets an I Love Lucy episode). Read it to exercise your Elizabethan English at the very least 🙂 or see it performed on the stage.
As always, happy reading!