These are not the cliché love stories where the hero and heroine automatically get together at the end. Much more than that, all these picks discuss timeless love in one way or the other. They tell us stories about teenage romance, early courtship, doomed love and allow us to reflect on the many, many challenges of being (and staying) together.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A classic in every right, this book is an all-time favorite. A satirical account of 19th century England, it shows what it was like to be a woman back then, and the challenges of being in love, from having to swallow your pride every now and then, to standing up for who you are. Light and humorous, this is a must-read for everyone.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Following two teenagers’ love story in the 1980s, it will tug at your heart and remind you of your own crushes, and how each felt like nothing could ever compare. As Eleanor and Park get to know each another, it seems that’s all they need. But life isn’t just a love story, and Rowell reminds us that even teenagers have problems. Set at a time when mix-tapes were the most romantic gift, Eleanor and Park will have you reminiscing, laughing and crying simultaneously.
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
Take and adventure into the typical male mindset. Nathaniel P. is our classic male crush. Well-educated, eloquent and charming, he’s every girl’s dream. What’s happening on the other end? That’s what Waldman tells us. Expertly diving into the male psyche, she shows us Nate’s thinking, his flaws as well as his virtues, and we see why things might not always work like we want. Reminding you of every guy you’ve ever been with, this will easily become a favorite.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Another classic, this is what we’d call an epic love story. Mr. Earnshaw takes in rough homeless Heathcliff and raises him. Heathcliff and Cathy Earnshaw fall in love, but their love mirrors them; strong, ruthless and just as wild. With that kind of love, nothing goes easily. Told by their housekeeper Nelly years later, the book follows this wild love, its reckless decisions ramifications that affected everyone. While you sometimes hate both Cathy and Heathcliff, you cannot help but fall in love with their story.
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
When I first heard of this book, I had to get my hands on it. A story told through a series of dictionary entries? Brilliant. And it didn’t disappoint. This book’s entries are scarily accurate. You’ll relate to them as they weave themselves into a story, and you’ll want more. Luckily, there’s now a Twitter account dedicated to countless entries that didn’t make it to print!
P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
He dies; she breaks down. (Who wouldn’t? It’s Gerard Butler!) Does love end with death? What do we do when our soul mates, our life partners leave us behind? This is a story of moving on without feeling guilty and realizing that they will forever hold special places in our lives. It’s about finding oneself. As Gerry guides Holly through this process with letters he’d written before his death, we can’t help but fall in love with him ourselves.
One Day by David Nicholls
Following two people’s lives and relationship on the same day for twenty years, this twist makes for impeccable writing and an expertly woven plot. It’s not just a love story, but the story of two best friends growing up and facing life together. They have their downs. They lose touch. And yet, their friendship survives. It’s the story of an enviable relationship that very few of us experience. Even if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll want to read this. Be warned though: you will pine for a bond like theirs.
A Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
You might’ve seen the movie, but while Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana are dreamy, the book is (as always) a lot better. What would you do if a genetic disorder caused the love of your life to frequently disappear all of a sudden and appear at random moments in his (and your) past or future? This is Claire and Henry’s story, as they struggle to live normally, not knowing what the past, future, or present for that matter, will bring. It is nothing like you’ve ever read, and you will love it.
A Woman of Cairo by Noel Barber
It’s not often that our beloved city’s featured in English fiction by a non-Egyptian. Though this book occasionally falls prey to the idea of an exotic Cairo, it’s still nice to picture this story on the streets we walk daily. In Cairo of the early 1900s, Selena is promised in marriage to Mark’s brother, but that’s the least of their problems. Faced with conditions that make their love almost impossible, Selena and Mark have tough choices to make. Set in British-rule Egypt, the book features figures like King Farouk and Queen Farida and recounts Selena and Mark’s love story against the backdrop of a very political, very boiling city.
A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
Another story of serious and difficult teenage love, but not just the cliché popular guy falling for a girl. It is about accepting and coping with serious life issues, loss and just how unconditional love can be. Featuring one of my favorite quotes about love, it demonstrates how falling in love can change and redeem you. If you like a sobby love story, this is definitely for you!