Celebrate the month of love by reading some of the greatest romance novels of all time! Cozy up with a novel for Valentine’s Day weekend or pick up some swoon-worthy poetry. We’ve got you covered with everything from the classics to contemporaries so there’s something for anyone who enjoys a love story!
- “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen
A coming of age novel featuring the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, this is a personal favorite from Austen. Although “Pride and Prejudice” is more renowned, this novel balances so many types of what it means to fall in love as a young woman. Both young ladies must learn how to balance the passions of their hearts with sense and reason. Combining humor, grace and heartbreak, “Sense and Sensibility” is a touching love story for all romantics. Read the novel then watch the 1995 movie!
- “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë
Initially published under the pseudonym, Ellis Bell, “Wuthering Heights” is Emily Brontë’s only finished novel. Now a staple in the canon of English Literature, this novel is one of the great gothic works of its time and deals with many themes such as social class, religious issues and gender inequality. Set in the isolated moors of England, the novel tells the complicated love story of Catherine and Heathcliff, an adopted orphan of Catherine’s father, Mr. Earnshaw, the owner of the Wuthering Heights estate. The dark themes and tangled love story eventually engross the next generation and include Heathcliff and Catherine’s children. If you enjoy a darker romance with twists and turns, “Wuthering Heights” is a must-read for you or watch one of the movie adaptations!
- “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton
Originally released in four parts as magazine articles, this story has become a classic American romance novel. Newland Archer is a successful lawyer in New York City and is set to marry May Welland, a well-off young woman, raised to adhere to all of society’s customs. Yet, Archer begins to doubt his choice after meeting May’s older cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska. Unhappily married to a European Count, Ellen and Archer begin to fall for each other and must find a way to navigate the restrictions of society life.
- “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
Set in the Civil War South, Scarlett O’Hara’s idyllic life on her family’s plantation is thrown into chaos when war breaks out. Throughout the upheaval, Scarlett leads tangled relationships with both the gentlemanly Ashley Wilkes and roguish Rhett Butler. However, Scarlett’s real love is her family’s plantation and her home, Tara. Throughout the course of the novel, Scarlett learns to not only fight for who she loves but for herself and her dreams. If you’re looking for a romance with a strong female lead and where there is more at stake than just the whims of the heart, then “Gone with the Wind” is the book for you. Also check out the Oscar-winning classic film.
- “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin
Written in 1956, “Giovanni’s Room” is technically a contemporary novel. However, as an LGBTQ love story, it is a prime example of how views have changed in (most) places of our society. Written by James Baldwin, this novel was experimental and controversial for its time period. “Giovanni’s Room” follows the story of an American named David and his relationship with Giovanni, an Italian man he meets in a Parisian gay bar and depicts the complexities of LGBTQ relationships.
- “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Florentino and Fermina fall head over heels in love at a young age. Through an exchange of love letters, a secret relationship unfolds yet is forced to come to an abrupt halt once Fermina’s father learns of their connection. Placing reason and rationale before her feelings, Fermina is eventually persuaded by her father and marries the wealthy and successful Dr. Urbino. Heartbroken but devoted, Florentino vows to wait for her and spends more than 50 years pining for his long lost love. If you’re a believer in love at first sight, this is the novel for you!
- “Call Me By Your Name” by Andre Aciman
The 17-year-old Elio is spending the summer of 1983 in his family’s 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He meets Oliver, a doctoral student who works as his father’s intern. The two bask in the beauty of their summer surroundings and discover a growing passion for one another. The novel follows their relationship over the course of their heated summer together and through the next 20 years. If you’re looking for a romance novel where love and longing inextricably pull two people together, read “Call Me by Your Name” then watch the 2017 film.
- “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
Are you a fan of time travel, historical dramas, or a steamy romance? If so, “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon is the novel for you! After World War II, Claire Randall and her husband take a second honeymoon to Scotland to reconnect. While there, Claire witnesses an ancient ritual and is thrown back 200 years in time to 1740s Scotland. There, she not only has to learn to live with Scottish clansmen but also has to battle relatives of people she loves. In the end, she must choose whether she belongs back in the 20th century with her husband, Frank, or if she should follow a new life with a striking Scotsman. “Outlander” placed second in the 2018 PBS Great American Read. Begin reading the series then watch the Starz TV show; hurry — season 5 begins this month!
- “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini
Chronicling the violent events of Afghanistan within the last 30 years, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” tells the tale of two generations and their struggles for life and love in the midst of war and upheaval. Mariam faces ridicule for being an illegitimate child and suffers in an abusive marriage to a man named Rasheed. A generation later, Laila grows up more privileged, but the two women’s lives cross when Rasheed proposes to Laila. Laila, who has known true love, must work together with Mariam to overcome extraordinary obstacles and hopefully find love and happiness. Both tragic and inspiring, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a love story for those who seek romance even against the greatest odds.
- “A Walk to Remember” by Nicholas Sparks
We can’t talk about romance novels and not mention Nicholas Sparks. Although popular books like “The Notebook,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “Nights in Rodanthe” might be ones to initially come to mind, “A Walk to Remember” is a personal favorite. The story follows two teenagers, Landon and Jamie, who fall in love despite intense differences. In the end, the novel depicts how true love can change a person for the better and the greatest of loves will transcend time, space and separation. The 2002 movie is a Valentine’s Day must watch!
- “Love Poems” by Pablo Neruda – collection
Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda knows a little something about both love and poetry. As one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, many consider him one of the greatest poets to write in the Spanish language with his collections having been translated all over the world. If you’re looking for passionate poetry, Pablo is definitely one to turn to.
- “The Sonnets” by William Shakespeare – collection
Of course, if we’re talking classic love poems (and just poetry in general), we can’t leave out Shakespeare. Sonnets often take form as an ode to love and Shakespeare has perfected this. If you like poetry that is romantic to the core, read this collection — Sonnet 18 is a must-read!
- “The Love Poems of Lord Byron” by Lord Byron – collection
The Romantics have become some of the authorities on both poetry and love. Lord Byron, as scandalous as he could be in the 19th century, had his fair share of love interests and was not shy about sharing them through his craft. A true Romantic through and through, you’ll find themes of nature and passions of the heart in his works.
- “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns
This is one of the most renowned love poems of all time. This is a great read for anyone in a long-distance relationship!
- “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” by E.E. Cummings
E.E. Cummings has a unique writing style and is great to read if you enjoy distinctive poetry. His eclectic poems are indicative of the Modernist movement. This classic poem is perfect for letting someone know how special they are to you.
- “Variations on the Word Love” by Margaret Atwood
If you’re more into contemporary poetry, try this poem for Valentine’s Day. This definitely has more recognizable imagery and explores the meaning of love in today’s world.
For more romance reads, visit with our librarians in Information Services or chat with staff and place holds on our website. Visit us on Instagram to view more February reads. Don’t lose your page! Come pick up one of our monthly book recommendation bookmarks!