Photo taken by Anna Lay | Model: Andi Jones
Whether looking for a gift for your significant other or searching for your next romantic read to get into the season, this list offers a diverse selection of books about love and emotion just in time for Valentine’s Day.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, romance novels have begun to fly off the shelves. Just because a cheesy “meet cute” and “happily ever after” is not your thing doesn’t mean you have to miss out on books about relationships and romance.
Each novel is given a Hopeless Romantic Rating from one to five. A book rated five will likely cause you to kick your feet from the cuteness. A book rated one may contain discussions or themes of love but there is very little snappiness to roll your eyes at.
Here is a list of books related to love that go beyond the typical romance section.
For a good laugh: “Romantic Comedy” by Curtis Sittenfield
Follow the tale of a comedy writer who’s sworn off love as she navigates life as a late-night sketch writer. Healing from heartbreak, Sally Milz is finally coming to terms with single life. That is until her friend in the studio begins dating a celebrity actress and suddenly Milz is excluded from the glamourous boys club made up of men dating figures in the spotlight. She channels her frustration into her writing when a dreamy pop star waltzes into her life and threatens her assumptions.
One Goodreads reviewer expressed how the book is the perfect combination of her two favorite things.
“I truly adore watching two things on TV: smart and realistic romantic comedies and ‘Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night Live!’ This book is like a dream come true,” Nilufer Ozmekik said.
Hopeless Romantic Rating: 4 - This novel paints a semi-realistic picture of dating and double standards while also giving great chemistry and comedy. The romance is slow to build, but it is well worth the wait.
For a dark romance thrill: “Belladonna” by Adalyn Grace
This fantasy novel tells the story of an orphaned girl who can see death but cannot die. Signa’s tragic life suddenly takes a turn when she is welcomed into Thorn Grove. However, she quickly learns that she might not have escaped the darkness of death so easily when her sanctuary is plagued with illness and mysteries. Desperate to save her newfound cousin and fit into the requirements of high society, Signa must come to terms with her identity and the shadowy figure who won’t seem to leave her alone.
Hopeless Romantic Rating: 3 - The primary plot focuses on solving the mystery of Lady Hawthorne’s death. However, there are certainly romantic elements such as unspoken tension and dramatic confessions to offset the eeriness of the story.
For a poetic discussion of identity: “Couplets” by Maggie Millner
This debut collection examines the transformative power of love in beautiful and enticing couplets. The story follows a woman with an ordinary life until she begins to experiment within her relationships and finally find the spark she was seeking.
This collection analyzes ideas of identity, obsession and sexuality. While the story follows a woman’s experiences with love, it ultimately focuses on the character’s relationship with herself.
Hopeless Romantic Rating: 2 - This collection of couplets tells the story of a woman falling in and out of love, but it does not contain lots of romantic moments. Instead, the collection focuses on her coming of age as the main character understands her sexuality and accepts her new identity.
For the heartbroken romantic: “Love & Luck” by Jenna Evans Welch
This novel follows Addie as she unexpectedly takes a journey through Ireland with her brother and his Irish best friend. Meanwhile, she tries to cope with her recent breakup which led to a rift within her family by following the advice of a niche guidebook titled “Ireland for the Heartbroken.”
This novel has a “rom com” feel to it, but it also discusses important themes of loyalty, self-discovery and letting go of the past.
Hopeless Romantic Rating: 5 - There actually is not much overt romance in this book, but the overall feel to the book is very whimsical and heartwarming. The ending is especially cute, but I was smiling almost the entire time I read it.
For insights into the human experience: “Everything I know about Love” by Dolly Alderton
From the lens of a Sunday Times columnist, this memoir uses humor and heartache to discuss growing up and navigating relationships. The book features stories of love in all senses including family bonds and types of friendship.
A reflection on the challenges and the wonders of growing up, this memoir acts as a guidebook and analysis of what it means to be human.
Another Goodreads reviewer, Abbey, comments on how the book acts as a guide.
“The feeling of being twenty, of growing up, of navigating romance and friendships and mental health is encapsulated so well in this book,” Abbey said.
Hopeless Romantic Rating: 1 - The book includes stories of love, and it can certainly evoke both laughs and tears, but it primarily reflects on real experiences rather than over-the-top tales of romance.
For the grand adventure: “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman
This novel may start as a cute love story but it quickly becomes an epic fairy tale-inspired adventure. This book follows the most beautiful woman in the world, Buttercup, as she overcomes a broken heart only to find her true love is not only alive but here to save her.
This campy and comedic story is rife with action and drama.
Hopeless Romantic Rating: 3 - While the two main characters are adorably in love with each other, this book focuses on the action: sword fights, poison and plots of death. It is dramatic enough it manages to poke fun at sappy romances while also being a wonderful love story in itself.
For the original enemies to lovers: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
This classic novel follows Elizabeth Bennett as she learns about the people around her from the irksome Mr. Darcy to the long-winded Mr. Collins. The story features Austen’s unique style to paint the picture of life for a particular family in Regency Era England.
Gain insight into historical views of marriage and society as Elizabeth watches her friends and sisters face the struggles and quirks of relationships while she faces romantic challenges of her own.
Hopeless Romantic Rating: 2 - Let me explain. This novel features romance in a sense of courtship and marriage, but there is very little passion involved throughout the majority of the book. The ideas of pride and prejudice are analyzed at length, but the idea of love in the novel is left to the discretion of the reader.
Much like a novel, Valentine’s Day can be challenging and dramatic in its own special way from the pressures of having a date and the rush to find the perfect gift. It’s important to find time to relax and to reflect on the stresses and hilarities of love. And what better way to do that than with a good book?