Back away from the "50 Shades of Grey." There's so much better out there when it comes to love. Even sex.
Everyone's got their favorite love story, and I am no exception. I love love stories—just not the Harlequin kind. If you're looking for love between the pages, I've got a few suggestions for the best romantic books for Valentine's Day:
For the achingly romantic ... To Be Sung Underwater (Tom McNeal): Simply put, I freaking love this book. It's all about going back to that true, pure, first love and trying to connect with it again. Full of angst and complete with a tragic ending, my heart just hurts thinking about it.
For young love ... Forever (Judy Blume) remains one of the first love stories I read that resonated for exactly what it was—thinking your boyfriend was the end-all, be-all and finding out there is life after high school.
Because everyone thinks it was romantic ... The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) took me a couple of read-throughs to connect with the overpowering emotions that culminate in another tragic ending, but nonetheless, it is a beautiful story.
Sweet, sad love ... The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Rachel Joyce) is about so many kinds of love—from friendship and loyalty to parenthood, love takes so many forms. And Harold's journey epitomizes the lengths to which we'll go to satisfy our soul.
From a guy's point of view ... When you've messed everything up, can you make it even worse? Maybe, in Jonathan Tropper's "One Last Thing Before I Go," in which a one-hit-wonder tries to reconcile his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter before he bites the dust. Funny, sad and a super intense ending make this one worth the read.
Straight up passion ... You're going to have to work for it, but there's a payoff in Ann Patchett's "State of Wonder." It'll make for a lusty scene in a movie someday. Same goes for "The Midwife of Hope River" (Patsy Harman). When Patience and Dr. Hester finally succumb to their feelings? Magic.
And when you're looking for raunch ... Skip the E.L James and go straight to vampire author Anne Rice's fantasy trilogy featuring Sleeping Beauty. Not for the easily offended, it's full of all that freaky sh*t.
Best Batshit Crazy Love Story: Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)
Best Love Story featuring an Inanimate Object: "The Giving Tree." (Shel Silverstein)
Best Romantic Movie that Came from a Book: "Sense and Sensibility." Don't you even try to argue that one with me. You will lose. Hugh Grant trumps Brad Pitt. Although, "Bridget Jones' Diary" is a close second. But again, Hugh Grant, so ...
Best Book to Give a Girlfriend for its Tie to a Romantic Movie: "Love in the Time of Cholera." Have you seen "Serendipity?" Duh.
Best Love Story I am Embarrassed to Admit I Read: "Bridges of Madison County." Shut up, you know you read it, too.
Best Dirty Book We All Sneaked Peeks of as Kids: "The Joy of Sex." If you're a 40-something, your parents are 60-somethings, easily, and oh hell yes they had this book. And if they tell you they didn't, they are LYING.
What are your faves? Let me know with a comment below. I like to blather about books. If you want to hear about what I am reading sooner than later, type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
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