Nothing says Valentine’s (especially if you’re single) like curling up with a romantic novel and a big mug of hot chocolate. If you’re looking for a good read to warm the cockles of your heart this month — or make you emotional as heck — here are eight of my favourite romantic novels/novels with romantic undertones.
- One Day — David Nicholls
Prepare to laugh till your stomach hurts and cry uncontrollably if you decide to pick up this stunner. This is the story of Emma and Dexter who meet on the night of their graduation. The book gives insights into their lives as time progresses, but only on one day of the year: July 15. This is a beautiful tale as it focuses on the unpredictability of where life may lead you, who you fall in love with and what tragedies may occur. It is also about pushing past tragedy and finding the good in every situation.
- The Time Traveler’s Wife — Audrey Niffenegger
Don’t let the weird, uncomfortable movie adaptation deceive you. Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is an incredible, touching and beautiful story of the relationship between Clare, an artist, and Henry, a time-travelling librarian. What is especially interesting and beautiful about this book is the way Niffenegger is able to use contrasting timeframes, weaving the tale of Clare and Henry’s love through a series of decades in a non-chronological way. It is exciting, inexhaustible and a beautiful depiction of what love can ultimately be: messy, painful, confusing, heartbreaking and unimaginable.
- Sushi For Beginners — Marian Keyes
Despite being possibly the least literary of the novels on the list, Sushi For Beginners is hardly one to be overlooked. This book will pull you in from the very first page, depicting a variety of characters who are all wildly different, flawed, and on the verge of mental breakdowns. Perhaps one of the best parts of this book is that you don’t always want to root for the main characters, but you still somehow end up feeling satisfied by the end.
- Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austen
I’m telling you, this novel is a classic for a reason. Not only does the book contain one of the most beloved couples of all time, it also creates characters that are flawed, and real, and misread each other due to these flaws. Plus, if you don’t want to read it, there are literally a billion different movie/TV/YouTube adaptations that do the book justice.
- Memoirs of a Geisha — Arthur Golden
If you are looking for an unconventional romance and to be immersed in rich history and tradition, this is a great read. It follows the life of Sayuri, a celebrated geisha who is both a performer and a courtesan during the time between the world wars. While often tragic, it provides an insight into the effects of war on non-combatants and the lengths people go for love. It will also show you how a little hope can change the course of a lifetime.
- Norwegian Woods — Haruki Murakami
I’m not going to lie to you, don’t pick up this book unless you want your heart totally shattered. Murakami writes intense, surreal, and often extraordinarily beautiful prose that will transport you to a whole new level of consciousness. And this love story, if you can call it a love story, will make you feel things—especially for Toru, the main protagonist — that you may not have thought you could feel for a fictional character. This is a beautiful piece of fiction and one I highly recommend.
- Howl’s Moving Castle — Diana Wynne Jones
If you are looking to be transported into a world full of magic, memorable characters, and a dash of romance, this is a great book to look into. Written as a children’s book, it focuses on a girl named Sophie who finds herself cursed by a spell that transforms her into an old lady. In an effort to break the spell, she finds herself entwined in a mystical world of fire demons, witches, and a magical moving castle owned by the heartless wizard Howl. This is a beautiful tale about self-discovery and love from unexpected places and is the perfect read for a cozy afternoon.
- Call Me By Your Name — Andre Aciman
Truth be told, I picked up this book because I desperately wanted to see the movie (and haven’t yet due to its not screening in St. Catharines). But what I will tell you is that, out of all the ones listed above, this is by far my favourite love story. The prose is beautiful, strong, colourful, the characters fresh and interesting, and Elio and Oliver’s story poignant depiction of growing up. This is a must-read.