22 Books to Fall in Love With This February.

Via on Feb 1, 2014

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I have a confession to make.

I’ve fallen in love with more books than people. Way more. I guess I’m a book slut, but that’s fine. I’m proud of my literary promiscuity. I’m a passionate reader and I love to read about, well, love, but not just love. I like reading about human relationships, emotions, affairs, sex.

Unrequited love, lost love, rekindled love, sweet, innocent love and completely dysfunctional, totally awkward love—this is what great stories are made of.

I’ve compiled a list of some of my all-time favorite love stories and we’re not talking bodice ripping, romances here.

These are stories of romantic love in all of its many, complex manifestations; stories that are about men and women and families from different cultures and different orientations all experiencing desire, need, desperate wanting, agony, ardor and intimacy.

Open your heart to these 22 beautiful tales—and this month, let yourself fall deeply in love with books.

1. The Wind is Not a River by Brian Payton

When her journalist husband goes missing in the wilderness while trying to cover the story of Japan’s invasion of the Aleutian Islands, Helen goes on a quest to find him and bring him home. A unique story of epic love and survival during the second World War.

 

2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This classic uses the story of one man’s fifty year, unrequited love for a married woman (and his 622 affairs in the meantime) to explore love in all of its many incarnations.
3. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

Easily one of my top 10 favorite novels, this is the epic tale of two Native American families struggling with their passions, their pasts, their demons and their changing culture. Heartbreaking, magical, gritty and even darkly funny in parts.

4. My Education by Susan Choi

A college student discovers the agony of passion with her professor’s wife, begins a torrid affair and ultimately finds herself. Unexpected plot twists and revelations, as well as a happy ending, make this a great read.

5. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Chinese-American widower, Henry Lee’s memories of his lost love, a forbidden Japanese girl, are rekindled and explored when Henry hears that the belongings of several interned, Japanese families have been located in an old, Seattle hotel.

6. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.

In this magical, Mexican fairytale, soul mates Tita and Pedro are forbidden by family tradition to be together. In order to be close to Tita, Pedro marries her nasty sister and the two lovers can only connect through Tita’s enchanted recipes.

7. Tar Baby by Toni Morrison

Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison’s writing is filled with symbolism, mystery and a profound understanding of love’s madness and all of that is present in this short but dense novel about a self-centered supermodel who returns to her island roots only to fall in love with a secretive fugitive.

8. The Rosie Project  by Graeme Simsion

Not all romances have to be serious! A professor with Asperger’s syndrome sets out to scientifically find the perfect wife at the same time he helps one of his rejected candidates find her biological father. This story is lighthearted, funny, quirky and refreshingly different.

9. Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert

Only Gilbert, with her unique charm, masterful storytelling and friendly sense of humor could write a love story as original, funny and sexy as this novel about a feisty and genius young woman in the middle of a feud between two groups of Maine lobstermen. Ruth wants to find herself and become a lobsterman, but unexpectedly finds her true loves.

10. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

A classic, graphic novel about a group of super-heroes, this unconventional choice, with its elaborate plot and unusual structure, is considered the greatest comic of all time. It’s also a love story and not to be missed. Read this book even if you think you’d never like a superhero comic. Your mind will be blown.

11. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Lovers of dystopian love triangles, forget Katniss, Peeta and Gale and read this cold, creepy tale of clones and organ harvesting instead. And yes, it’s a love story with a lot of strange plot twists. If you like to do a little work, uncovering the truths in a story, you’ll love reading between the lines here.

12. The Book of Salt by Monique Truong.

Who could resist Paris in the 30s at the home of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas? In this book, read the fictional tale of their Vietnamese cook, Bonh, a gay man exiled from his homeland, searching for love’s sweetness to banish his own bitterness.

13. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding.

To this day, this modern retelling (sort of) of Pride and Prejudice, is one of the mostly hilarious and hysterical books I have ever read. Laughing all the way, one can’t help but to fall in love with Bridget as she bumbles her way through the London dating scene and finally finds her real-life Mr. Darcy.

14. The English Patient by Michael Ontdaaje

The movie is really, really good, but please don’t skip this luscious, wondrous novel because you think you already know the story. The book is different! At the end of World War II, four broken souls unite in an Italian Villa to find a different sort of love and ultimately do the right thing.

15. Possession by A.S. Byatt

A big, complicated book with two, parallel love stories told in both traditional narratives and a series of alternate texts as two, modern day academics research and uncover the love affair between two, Victorian poets.

16. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Henry and Clare are without a doubt, meant to be together, but Henry’s ability to uncontrollably travel throughout time within the boundaries of his own life, complicate and deepen their “timeless” romance. This book is heartbreaking, inspiring and powerfully written. Its originality is luminous.

17. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Terrorists take hostages at a private performance of a world-renowned soprano as she sings for a group of diplomats. In the aftermath, the group of 60 hostages and their captors find transcendence, humanity and love through music. Bel Canto is easily one of the greatest literary works of the 20th century and is not to be missed. Go read it now. If you read any book on this list, make it this one.

18. Atonement by Ian McEwan

I’ve long predicted that one day McEwan will win a Nobel Prize and much of that will be based on this book. Again, the movie couldn’t really do the book justice. Atonement is a story about lovers separated by a terrible and tragic misunderstanding caused by a child’s jealousy and confusion about adult emotions and sexuality, but it’s also a story about social class and war and then a big old, post-modern kind of plot twist flips the whole story on its head.

19. Maurice by E.M. Forster

What I love about this book is that it’s the story of a gay man’s coming of age in Edwardian England and it isn’t tragic. In fact, it has a happy ending and shows that homosexuality is perfectly normal. This book was way ahead of its time.

20. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

So vividly imagined and depicted for the reader, the story of Sayuri, the beautiful, grey-eyed geisha and her love “The Chairman” will stay with you years later. I adore this poetic, magnificent novel.

21. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Oh, this book. What could be more romantic than a Depression era circus and who could help but to fall in love with a gorgeous performer and damsel in distress, Marlena? This is a novel for lovers of animals, romance and the weird wonder of the circus. Loved this story.

22. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg

Yup, it’s a love story. It’s also funny, witty, delightfully told and unbelievably endearing and refreshing. The best are the stories about people in difficult situations who can see through their circumstances to do the right and loving thing for all involved and this book, about an unconventional love between two women, definitely fits that bill.

 

Relephant reads:

My 5 Favorite Books of the Year.

10 Books for Splendid Adventures.

The 15 Best Books to Read Poolside (or Under a Tree or on the Couch).

 

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives

About Victoria Fedden

Victoria Fedden lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her husband, daughter and cat. She is a yogi, an inspirational writer and a humorous memoirist and is the author of the recently published memoir “Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat” and the upcoming sequel “Sun Shower.” Victoria received her MFA in Creative Writing from Florida Atlantic University, where she also taught writing. Her work has appeared in Real Simple, Chicken Soup for the Soul and several other publications. Please visit her blog at or her Facebook.

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10 Responses to “22 Books to Fall in Love With This February.”

  1. Howard says:

    Victoria, great list! I just finished Ann Patchett's State of Wonder, and if you haven't read it, get it!! She is a wonderful storyteller.

  2. Victoria says:

    I will! I haven't read that one. I also need to read her recent book of essays about her book store, which I have got to visit one day. Love her. I'm reading Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd right now. Absolutely brilliant. I don't want it to end.

  3. Molly says:

    What about Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard? One of my favorite love stories. Love doesn't always arrive the way we think it should.

  4. Amy Evergreen says:

    I have read 13 of your recommendations…Fried Green Tomatoes being my favorite. Makes me cry every time.

  5. Victoria says:

    Molly, I haven't read Labor Day. Didn't the movie just come out this week? It didn't get the kindest reviews from what I've read.

    • Molly says:

      I loved the book and the movie was very satisfying. Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin were great, but the young actor who played Henry (Gattlin Griffith) was the heart of the film. I took the reviews with a grain of salt; I knew I wanted to see the film because I loved the book so much. The pie scene alone is worth the price of admission.

  6. Jordan Damiri says:

    Victoria, great list! Of those I haven’t read many are in fact already on my to-read list. Have you read The Bronze Horseman? I’d be interested to know what you think of it in comparison to those on your list. Every person I know that reads it has fallen in love with it, as did I. One of those love stories that is so affecting that I struggle to re-read it.

  7. Victoria says:

    Haven't read that one. I put it on my Goodreads list though. It sounds like just my thing. I love war stories, I think because my grandparents are Holocaust survivors. By the way, I wanted to let everyone know to please add me as a friend on Goodreads!

  8. Gwenllian says:

    Great list! But the sweetest love story I have ever read belongs to Jamie and Claire of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

  9. Joyce says:

    I have read all of these, I would recommend also, "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts

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