Who needs a Valentine when you've got Mr Darcy to snuggle up with? Oh yes, here are our favourite romantic books to fall in love with...
Valentine’s Day or not, we’re all *secretly* suckers for a good romantic story. But there’s something about reading a romance novel during the month of love that makes them even more exciting. Maybe it’s seeing all the cupid and arrow displays at the mall, or the fact that almost everyone on social media‘s posting lovey-dovey pictures. Who knows? The only thing for certain is that when romance is in the air, it makes us want to snuggle up with a good tear-jerker. From modern bestsellers and new rom-com favourites to romance classics and historical fiction, we’ve rounded up our fave romantic books for the month of love. Let the fantasising begin…
Our favourite romantic books and rom-com novels
1. The Course of Love by Alain De Botton
You know the saying, “The course of (true) love never did run smooth”? That probably inspired this philosopher’s book. The novel follows a couple through the course of their relationship: they fell in love, got married, had kids. Is that the “happily ever after”? Nope, definitely not. Be prepared to go real deep into all facets of love with this one.
2. The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Two people who despise each other initially are made to front a radio show as two exes who share relationship advice to listeners. But, as with the typical romantic trope, the co-hosts slowly fall for each other, as their show starts gaining traction and recognition. For how long more will they be able to keep up with the subterfuge? If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud rom-com read, pick this up and start flipping.
3. Lion Boy and Drummer Girl by Pauline Loh
Lion dancers have been around in Asia for a very long time, but what happens when they’re given the “pop sensation” treatment? In this frothy novel, lion dancers are idolised, and latest member Ricky Ang is the most revered of all. While the others hanker for fame and fortune, Ricky would rather remain true to himself. Meanwhile, drummer girl Ong YingYing is, as the young ‘uns call them nowadays, a “hater” of the lion dance pop wave. But, she holds the key to Ricky’s heart. Move over, K-pop, and say hello to Leopop!
4. This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kacen Callender
With a title like that, it’s a given that you’d be expecting something kind of epic. Nathan has seen too many relationships end until it made him believe that happy endings will never exist in real life. That’s also his way of protecting himself from a broken heart. His ex-girlfriend-now-best-friend is determined to help Nate find someone else… And that someone finally does, in the form of his childhood best friend. Is this the universe’s way of changing Nate’s mind about happy endings? Maybe it is kind of an epic love story after all. Note: the book was published under the author’s former name.
5. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Mili hasn’t seen her husband in over twenty years, since she was betrothed to him at four years of age. (Yes, but marriages like these are still occurring in countries like India.) While she’s studying in Michigan, her favourite director Samir – who also happens to be her husband’s younger brother – rolls into town to get Mili to sign the divorce papers. That should be easy, right? It gets complicated when Samir finds himself falling for his soon-to-be-ex sister-in-law. The title is really fitting: we can imagine this being adapted into a Bollywood film.
6. Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
A spontaneous overseas vacation that turns into a romance – that’s the premise of this book, basically. When Vivian Forest is given the chance to tag along her daughter’s work trip to England, she takes it up with hesitation. Who wouldn’t, right? She’s excited to see the sights, but what she didn’t expect is becoming attracted to the Queen’s private secretary. The two get on like a house on fire, even though they know their holiday romance is short-lived. But will it end when it’s supposed to? Pick this up to find out.
7. Fumbled by Alexa Martin
Single parents deserve romance too, and we’re very happy to have come across this novel. Poppy moved across the country when she was pregnant at sixteen. T.K.’s life revolves around the NFL, parties, and women. However, now and again he thinks of the life that he could have had with his high school sweetheart. Three guess who this person is. When T.K. and Poppy’s lives cross again, old feelings come rushing back to the surface. But with years and plenty of secrets between the two of them, how do they navigate their found again relationship?
8. A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Representation matters, and we’re very pleased to come across plenty of romantic and rom-com books that feature diverse characters. In this novel, the central characters are Steffi, whose severe anxiety causes her to be selectively mute, and Rhys, a deaf person who’s new to the school. With her knowledge of basic sign language, Steffi becomes the person to help him acclimate. As the two communicate, Steffi discovers she does have a voice, and is starting to fall for the person who made her realise this.
9. Imperfect Arrangements by Frances Mensah Williams
Set in Ghana, this novel follows three “sister friends” as they navigate the various stages in their relationships. There’s Theresa, whose fairytale marriage to Tyler gets threatened with shocking developments; Maku, who’s hoping for the perfect wedding; and Lyla, who’s battling a vicious mother-in-law and also desperate to have a child. Faced with their sets of problems, the couples have to confront the truth and relook at the arrangements that they have enabled.
10. The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
Chick-lit queen Meg Cabot is a perennial favourite when it comes to romantic books, and we have a fun one from her for this list! Melissa Fuller, a gossip columnist for the New York Journal, discovers her neighbour facedown on the carpet of her apartment home. She handles all that needed to be handled, but this causes her to be late for work. What follows is a series of hilarious exchanges that keep you laughing from page to page. The book is written in an e-mail format, which makes it easy to read.
11. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
This modern classic is a romantic book that you should read at least once in your lifetime. Author Nicholas Sparks was inspired to write this novel – his first published book, by the way – after hearing the story of his wife’s grandparents, who had been for more than 60 years. That’s true love right there! In a nutshell, The Notebook highlights the power of love and how miracles can stay with you forever. You may have watched the film adaptation, but this achingly tender story is better savoured as a book.
12. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
What happens when you mix romance and time travel together? You get this amazing pageturner. Audrey Niffenegger’s debut novel is about Henry, a man with a genetic disorder that allows him to time travel unpredictably. During one such trip, he encounters his future wife, who’s merely six years of age then. Some folks have said that the story is a touch melodramatic, but we say it’s a gripping read from start to finish. Also, we are not responsible for any tears shed.
13. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
New girl in town Eleanor brings with her a whole lot of chaos– from her crazy red hair to her unique outfits – that you can’t miss her. But there’s a cute, quiet guy on the bus who, despite thinking he’s mastered the art of camouflage, has caught her eye. They start talking and exchanging mixtapes and the rest is history. If you’re feeling nostalgic about your first love, you’ll want to add this to your reading list.
14. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
There’s no better time to re-read this faithful romantic classic. The outspoken Elizabeth Bennett finally meets her match in the prickly Mr Darcy. Read the book to catch their witty banter and delicate flirting and read on a few hundred pages more before you scream: “JUST GET IT ON ALREADY!”.
15. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Genetics professor Don Tillman is determined to find a wife. So what does a socially awkward super genius do? Make a 16-page survey to find the perfect match of course. He ends up finding Rosie, someone who doesn’t fit into the equation at all. But who’s he to argue with science?
16. Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption by Daniel Jones
Adapted into an Amazon Prime series, these essays from the eponymous New York Times column feature real love stories from a series of contributors. While some stories are painfully relatable and some are more unconventional, they all reveal what we know to be true – love is a many splendored, and often complicated, thing.
17. Love Story by Erich Segal
Boy meets girl. Boy is rich and smart, girl is beautiful but not so rich; they’re opposites in every way but definitely MFEO. As they defy their parents and try to make it on their own, all is well until one of them finds they have a fatal medical condition. Will love truly conquer all? Make sure you have your box of tissues handy when your read this one and catch the film adaptation (we love the Ali McGraw version) too!
18. When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
Broken-hearted Katie wasn’t looking for love. It was probably the last thing on her mind, especially after being dumped by her fiancé. But when she meets and gets to know Cassidy, she begins to question her feelings, sexual orientation and values. Their attraction is undeniable, and so are all the complications that come along with it. This is one of those books you’ll want to read in one sitting, that’s for sure!
So go on, pour yourself a wine and get snuggly with some romantic reads!