9 Love Stories for Non-Romance Fans
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I don't consider myself a romance fan, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a good love story in a novel. (I just don't particularly enjoy when the romantic relationship is the primary focus of the book.) To celebrate Valentine's Day (or Singles' Awareness Day, depending on your perspective), I thought I would share my favorite "love stories" for readers with similar tastes. Enjoy!
Warning: Although the books listed below are some of my all-time favorites, you should know I have a high tolerance for sad! I won't tell you specifically which books are tragic, as I don't want to give too much away, but just be prepared for a tearjerker if you check out any of the below titles.
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
This is one of those books that I recommend to everyone, but I can't even tell them what it is about because I know I won't do it justice. Although the romantic storyline is a major part of this book, I thought the love story took a backseat to the gorgeous, imaginative, fantastical setting of Le Cirque des Rêves, and there were plenty of other interesting characters to follow besides the primary couple.
A beautiful story about a beautiful couple, with one of my favorite literary twists: time travel! Although this book is no doubt a love story, I think the writing style and story elements will appeal to both romance and non-romance fans. Plus, the male protagonist is a librarian, so you can't blame me for having a soft spot for this book! The movie adaptation featuring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana is also quite good, though of course it doesn't capture all the complexities and nuances of the novel.
This is another novel that does masterful things with time and swoon-worthy characters. Daniel has lived for thousands of years, and each time he is reincarnated, he spends his new life seeking out Sophia, his eternal love. Unfortunately, Sophia doesn't have Daniel's "memory," so in each new form, she doesn't know that he exists. The book alternates between Daniel's current life pursuing Sophia, and his past lives, ranging from Asia Minor in 773 to St. Louis in the 1930s, which add a quirky historical aspect to the book.
My favorite book by my favorite author. Sigh. Jodi Picoult is known for taking tough issues and spinning a tale of multiple perspectives, each so convincing and passionate that the reader often does not even know his or her position on the topic by the end. This particular book takes place in the aftermath of a teen suicide pact and is told through flashbacks and the voices of the teens, the family members and the lawyer in the resulting murder trial.
Of all the books on this list, this one probably revolves the most around the romantic storyline. In fact, if you gave me the bare bones of the plot, I probably wouldn't be interested in reading this book. However, Lisa See is a master of historical fiction, and I found those details to be even more beautiful than the love story. I learned so much about Chinese traditions and beliefs regarding the afterlife from reading this book.
If you have time for this chunker (print versions hover around 1200 to 1400 pages), Hugo's epic cast of characters from a student revolution in 19th-century France has certainly stood the test of time. Not only can you read the book, but you can also listen to the musical adaptation or watch one of several film adaptations or stage performance videorecordings. And because the title already gave it away, I will confirm that yes--this is one of the tearjerkers I warned you about!
This novel follows a Nigerian couple from their childhood romance through their adult lives, as the woman emigrates to America and the man builds a life in Lagos. Personally, I loved this book for the discussion of race in America and not for the actual romantic storyline, but my book club would heartily disagree with that; they were all anxiously waiting to learn how the relationship would pan out in the end.
Up until last year, this book was hands down my favorite young adult romance. (See below for the current holder of that title!) I am a John Green fan in general, and I especially love the witty dialogue he bestows on his teenage characters, which makes this romantic relationship all the better. Augustus Waters is possibly one of my favorite male protagonists from YA fiction, and I was also pleasantly surprised by the film adaptation, which I felt retained the appeal of the novel.
I read this book in the middle of 2015, and it "gave me all the feels" and knocked TFioS out of my top YA romance spot. This book is told from two points of view: The first perspective is from 12-year old Noah, and the second perspective is from his twin sister, Jude, four years later. Although both Noah and Jude have love interests that play heavily into the plot, the book is more about their relationship to each other, as they experience family changes, grow up, and explore their individual personalities and talents as artists. (P.S. - Jandy Nelson's other novel, The Sky is Everywhere, is also quite excellent and echoes many of the same themes.)