Sometimes we all need to break our routines with a romantic rendezvous of the fantasy variety. Whether you're in a relationship or looking for love, there's nothing quite like a romantic tale to make your stomach flutter and set your heart on fire. And let's be honest, we tend to feel a little more amorous when Valentine's Day is around the corner. Or perhaps you're more of a holiday cynic and would rather curl up with a page-turner full of passion, heartbreak, and tragedy rather than fairy-tale romance.
Since we happen to appreciate both kinds of novels, as long as the stories are compelling and the language beautiful, we created a list that features all sorts of romantic books to read. Find out about each one before you commit, or fall in love with all 16 of the best romance novels below.
In André Aciman's novel Call Me by Your Name, you'll get transported to a fantastically romantic seaside town on the Italian coast to witness a coming-of-age tale about self-discovery, sexuality, and first love. Whether or not you've seen the on-screen adaptation, it's definitely worth a read.
This gripping, fresh novel will show you what it's like to live life on the edge. Though on the surface it's a book about a woman's spiral into drug abuse and mental illness while coping with unrequited love, it's so much more than that. Our narrator is bitingly insightful, laugh-out-loud hilarious, and full of related desires the rest of us won't say out loud.
For anyone who loves science-fiction but also wants to read a love story, Never Let Me Go should be next on your reading list. We join three prep-school kids with a complicated relationship as they uncover horrifying secrets about the nature of their existence.
As the main characters, college sweethearts, plan their wedding, they are also the subject of a documentary about "new people," in other words, couples in interracial relationships. While things start out wonderfully, their relationship encounters new obstacles and fantasies with heartbreaking consequences. This will challenge you to think about your own assumptions about race, love, and commitment.
In This Is How You Love Her, Junot Díaz will confront you with the power of love, both good and bad. It features an array of relationships, from casual dates to teenage romances, secret affairs, and doomed long-term relationships around the world, all of which pivot around one man.
Everything about this screenplay is hot: the setting, the characters, the plot, and even the language (even reading the title out loud makes you tap your tongue). And not always in an uplifting way. Indeed, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is bubbling with such intense passion that it becomes a tinderbox. And then once you read it, watch the movie version, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman (the ultimate Hollywood pair).
Giovanni's Room explores the many facets of one identity while also being thoroughly entertaining. For a thrilling narrative that incorporates romance, sexuality, and murder, read Giovanni's Room. It's a coming-of-age story narrated by David, an American expat living in Paris, as he navigates his new life abroad. David's musings on the meaning and value of home are unforgettable. And what better backdrop than midcentury Paris?
If you haven't had the intimate pleasure of leafing through the romantic phrases of Wuthering Heights, then we compel you to read this classic stat. After just the first few pages, we guarantee you'll be immersed in this passionate yet tortured story about Catherine Earnshaw and her love-triangle conundrum. Not one to marry below her station, she relinquishes her intense love for the gypsy Heathcliff to meet the expectations of her class, choosing the well-bred Edgar Linton instead. Wuthering Heights is recognized as one of the greatest novels in English literature for a reason: It's intense, and it isn't very pretty, but you won't be able to put it down.
This might not be the most conventional love story, but Just Kids is certainly brimming with all the passion, sparks, butterflies, and adventure you'd expect from a modern romance. In her first book, Patti Smith details the story of her love and friendship with legendary American artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. This is not only an intimate story of two lovers but also a firsthand account of New York City in the late '60s and '70s when all the cool cats, musicians, and artists hung out at The Chelsea Hotel.
John Green said it best when he reviewed this book for The New York Times: "Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it's like to be young and in love with a girl but also what it's like to be young and in love with a book." Get ready to fall in love.
If you want a book to transport you to another place and time, then this is the story. This clever tale is about a handsome librarian, Henry de Tamble, and his artist wife, Clare Abshire. Henry suffers from chrono-displacement disorder, which causes him to bounce back and forth from one moment in time to another. Despite the constant back-and-forth throughout time, the couple's passionate love affair remains constant. This beautiful yet unconventional story is gripping and powerful; you won't want to put it down. So we suggest warning your family and friends before you begin; they might not see you for a few days.
This New York Times best seller is now a popular TV series thanks to its rich and compelling story. The hearts of millions of readers across the world have been captured by the book and its curious characters, Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser. This is the ultimate escape, fusing history, adventure, and romance all in one spectacular tale. Are you ready to lose your heart to a book? This one's sure to take your breath away and evoke every emotion.
This book really needs no introduction: We bet most of you reading this have already seen the movie, but the novel was a New York Times best seller long before Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams made it a household name. This beautiful tale is incredibly moving, heartbreaking, and frustrating. It will make you laugh and cry a river, but the enduring love story is worth the emotional roller coaster. This story proves the power of love can create miracles, and it's gripping all the way through to the very last page.
This is a modern love story about two people who shouldn't work because they have nothing in common, but yet somehow it's just right. If you are looking for a romantic novel that speaks to this generation, Me Before You is our pick. This story shows how love can blossom in the most unexpected places, despite hardship and adversity.
It's hard to believe this book was first published in 1813, yet it's still just as relevant and adored by readers today as it was back then. This love story continues to top most-loved book lists and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. This compelling masterpiece depicts the complicated love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, but it's also an incredible tale of status, wealth, respectability, and sex, in a world where men held the power and women negated their social hierarchy.
This post was originally published on February 11, 2016, and has since been updated by Hadley Mendelsohn.