Even at my most bitter and cynical, I have never been able to resist a good love story. I guess I’ve just always had the ability to look at the world through rose-coloured glasses. Romance novels indulge this part of my personality or at the very least provide me a means of escape when my outlook is looking a little less rosy.
Variety is key to keeping things spicy in a relationship; I feel the same way about the books I read. The occasional bodice-ripper has found its way into my collection once or twice, but these I kind of regard as one-night stands of fiction because they’re short and satisfying, and you’ll probably never read it again.
Other books featuring romances are more like long-term relationships: as you learn more about the characters your affection for them grows, and the more you become invested in their relationship.
For example, in his novel One Day, author David Nicholls chronicles through the history of two best friends whose timing never just seems to be quite right. The more we see their lives take shape over the years, the more we want them to be together. Oh yes, we do.
Other relationship stories feature protagonists that are slightly quirkier and less likely to be so intrinsically linked, like The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (whose lovable characters have spawned a sequel). In both cases, the reader falls in love with the people more than the actual love story itself, and it’s because of our concern for their well-being that we want things to work out so badly for them. If they’re lucky and things do work out, it feels like emotional catharsis for us.
If things don’t work out, it’s a different kind of emotional catharsis. For example, Claire Calman’s Love is a Four Letter Word had me sobbing by the end, as did The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (I still can’t bring myself to watch the movie.)
None of these books, however, moved me as deeply as The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. It has got to be one of the most beautiful and devastating books that I have ever read. Every so often I found myself having to pause and look up from the page so I could soak it all in. What is it about forbidden love stories that makes them so enticing?!
It’s not hard to be enticed by romance novels, really- the desire to love and be loved is universal. All the heartache, the longing, the disappointment, the hope- we’ve all felt that way at one point or another in our lives.
No wonder Harlequin makes so much money.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is proof that love can exist after age 65.
This husband has a strange way of loving his wife in So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, but their relationship is still oddly touching.
If you’re looking for the kind of angsty, teenybopper romance that keeps you on your toes (will they? won’t they?) then you’ll love The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. There’s enough butt-kicking and smooching to keep you hooked through all six novels, and if that wasn’t enough for you, The Infernal Devices trilogy can be read as a prequel or as a stand-alone series (although trust me, you’ll want to read them all together).
I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company. Full disclosure: I do receive a small commission from Amazon when you choose to buy from my site. It keeps this blog running and food in my dog’s bowl, but rest assured I would never suggest you buy something I wouldn’t buy for myself. Enjoy!