10 Utterly Romantic Books You’ll Want to Read as a Couple
Sharing a book about love is one great way to rediscover the romance that brought you together in the first place. And the best part is, you’re bound to get to know your partner better as part of the bargain.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Young curmudgeon A.J. Fikry owns and runs the only bookstore on a small island off the coast of New England, left to him by his beloved late wife. Sales are down, and his prize possession, a rare collection of poetry by Edgar Allan Poe, has disappeared. A.J.’s luck begins to change when a stranger leaves her baby girl in the bookstore with a note asking him to take care of her. Much to everyone’s surprise, he agrees. But is she really taking care of him? A new romance with the lovely, literate Amelia, a publishing sales rep, soon follows. Gabrielle Zevin’s gentle love story about second chances will warm your hearts and make you both laugh and, just possibly, cry. Here’s why we love the smell of old books and second-hand bookstores.
The Thin Man series
The best thing about these classic detective stories by Dashiell Hammett is the partnership between Nick and Nora Charles, a wealthy Depression-era couple who drink heavily, banter lightly, and solve mysteries along the way. Maybe that’s because Hammett was inspired by his own decades-long affair with the notoriously hard-boiled playwright Lillian Hellman. “It took us five minutes to bring Nora to. She sat up holding her cheek and… glared at me. ‘You damned fool,’ she said, ‘you didn’t have to knock me cold. I knew you’d take him, but I wanted to see it.’ One of the coppers laughed. ‘Jesus,’ he said admiringly, ‘there’s a woman with hair on her chest.’ And binge-watching the old b&w films with Myrna Loy and William Powell makes a great follow-up date. These are the most iconic books set in every state.
The Rosie Project
Let’s face it, no one can control where the thunderbolt of love will land. But that doesn’t stop Don Tillman, a brilliant geneticist, martial arts black belt, and general social misfit from trying. His detailed questionnaire for The Wife Project is designed to weed out smokers, vegetarians, the chronically late, and other undesirables… like the enchanting Rosie, who turns out to have a Project of her own. Graeme Simsion’s runaway international bestseller has a perfectly understated deadpan humor that will make both men and women laugh out loud, but the book also brings up fascinating questions about the viability of romantic wish lists and the importance of being deeply connected.
Pride & Prejudice
No list of this kind would be complete without Jane Austen’s wickedly funny, cleverly drawn novel about a marriage of true minds that overcomes worldly impediments. Elizabeth Bennet is a young woman with spirit, integrity, no money, and an embarrassingly vulgar family. When the haughty, wealthy Mr. Darcy meets Miss Bennet at a ball, he refuses to dance with her, earning her cordial dislike…only to discover himself increasingly drawn by her “remarkably fine pair of dark eyes” as time goes by. You and your own beloved will both be turning pages to discover how Elizabeth and Darcy will transcend their pride and prejudice to make the match we know is meant to be. Don’t read classics because they’re good for you, read the ones that are fun (like these)!
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Sometimes the people who are superficially least suited turn out to be the best matched. The small provincial English town of Edgecombe St. Mary is abuzz with news of the growing friendship between Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali, the gentle, hijab-wearing widow of the local shopkeeper, as they swap books, drive each other to the local train station, and support each other through the small vicissitudes of life. But will Mrs. Ali’s meddling, gossippy relatives manage to squash her second chance at happiness? Helen Simonson hits it out of the park with this updated love story about a gentleman of the old school has the integrity to pursue a woman he admires regardless of public opinion.
Every man in St. Petersburg seems to desire the beautiful, troubled Natassia Filipovna, whose legal guardian seduced her as a young girl, permanently ruining her reputation and her sense of self. A young merchant even offers her one hundred thousand rubles to become his mistress. (She toys with the idea but eventually throws them into a burning fireplace and runs away.) The only man who truly loves her is “The Idiot” of the title, saintly epileptic Prince Myshkin, who has just returned to Russia after years of treatment abroad. But with his poor health and ill fortune, he may not be able to help anyone, not even himself. Sadly, the author, Fyodor Dostoevsky, himself suffered from epilepsy and the and the widespread prejudice against it at the time. Be sure to have a box of tissues handy. You’ll need them. And if sad books are your favorite kind, here are some other powerful reads.
Howl’s Moving Castle
In fairy tales, it’s always the youngest daughter who gets the goodies at the end. So as the eldest of three, Sophie Hatter believes herself doomed to a dull life. She couldn’t be more wrong. When the Witch of the Waste takes a dislike to Sophie and turns her into an old woman, Sophie takes a job as housekeeper in the castle of the notorious Wizard Howl where she plans to seek a magical antidote. Despite Howl’s sneaky kindnesses to his apprentice, his fire demon Calcifer, and Sophie herself, he is vain, selfish, heartless, has lots of scary enemies, and is very, very messy. She couldn’t possibly love him. Could she? Men and women alike will be seduced by Diana Wynne Jones’s most delicious fantasy novel, the basis for a popular anime film by Hayao Miyazaki. Here are nine life-changing books everyone should read.
What is it about detectives in love that is so smoking hot? In this classic mystery by Dorothy Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey is an aristocratic sleuth and World War I vet whose monocle and disarmingly silly flow of chatter disguise a dangerously brilliant mind. Harriet Vane is the mystery novelist he loves, whom he has just saved from a murder rap for her late fiance’s death. Refusing Peter’s repeated proposals, Harriet flees to her Oxford college reunion (aka “Gaudy Night”), expecting to find some peace. No such luck. When a poltergeist vandalizes the library, hangs women scholars in effigy, and finally starts to target Harriet herself, Lord Peter once again gallantly rises to her defense. Can Harriet finally forgive him for rescuing her? Here are 14 books every woman should really read at least once.
In a great match, the other person loves you not just in spite of your flaws but because of them. In Anne Tyler’s charming, funny retelling of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” 29-year-old Kate Battista’s grumpiness and tactlessness are always getting her into trouble, even though she’s actually supremely competent and generous in caring for her father, a selfish, absent-minded scientist at Johns Hopkins, and her boy-crazy little sister Bunny. Enter Pyotr, her father’s Russian research assistant, who isn’t at all put off by Kate’s outspoken ways. He says she reminds him of home, where people don’t fake-smile at strangers and say “Have a nice day.” Pyotr proposes a green card marriage to Kate, just so he can stay in the country. But is that really why he wants to marry her?
The Fault in Our Stars
John Green’s bestselling tragic teen romance belongs on this list partly because of and partly despite its tremendous popular following. (And by the way, it’s so much better than the movie.) A love story between two smart, quirky high schoolers with terminal cancer sounds like a tearjerker, and TFIOS is certainly that. But it’s also so much more. It’s about the way time speeds up and slows down when you don’t have enough of it. It’s about the thirst for intensity and purpose. It’s about the decision to be vulnerable in love. As the hero tells the heroine, ” You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” This is a book you want to cry over. Together. Next, check out the 15 most romantic quotes from literature.