Love and Literature: A Guide to the Best Romance Books

Love is in the air in these 10 terrific romance books. From classic stories of star-crossed lovers to contemporary swoon-worthy reads that have captured romance readers everywhere, this is the ultimate list of the best books to get your heart a-flutter. So, if you're a sucker for a love story then these are the books you need to add to your romantic to-be-read lists.

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1. Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare

This story of two star-crossed lovers has been read, performed and retold countless times by people all over the world and it has a reputation for being the number one love story in literature. In this early Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet are two young lovers from rival families whose story ends in tragedy. If you need a good romantic classic this Valentine's Day, why not revisit this terrific play?

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2. Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte's timeless story of lost love and betrayal is often considered to be one of the best works of literature ever written. When Lockwood finds himself lost on the moors one stormy night he seeks shelter at the gothic Wuthering Heights owned by his landlord, the ominous Heathcliff. That night Lockwood is visited by a ghost at his window and from then on he becomes determined to learn of the story of Heathcliff and Cathy and their tragic love. This moving and shocking classic is a must for every romantic fiction reading list.

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3. Gone With The Wind

Margaret Mitchell

This American classic sees two strong characters, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, fall in and out of love with one another during the time of the American Civil War. Scarlett and Rhett have a romance like no other and if you're a fan of the brilliant 1939 film adaptation then you'll love giving the fantastic book that inspired it a read.

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4. Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

No best romance books list would be complete without a Jane Austen book in the mix and Pride and Prejudice is often considered her best work. The strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet initially hates the rich and rude Mr Darcy but their prickly relationship soon turns into one of the most romantic in fiction when they eventually put aside their differences and realise their true feelings. So, whether you've never read any Jane Austen before or you're a long-time fan, this book is always worth a read (or reread) when you're in the mood for a good love story.

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5. Doctor Zhivago

Boris Pasternak

If you're looking for a really unique historical romance then this Russian novel is a must. Dr Yuri Zhivago's life is turned upside down during the Russian Civil War and as the unrest intensifies, he takes his family out of Moscow to distant safety. However he then finds himself in a complicated position when he falls in love with the beautiful Lara. Stuck between the love of two women and in the middle of this brutal conflict, Zhivago must face tough choices in this sweeping epic.

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6. Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is a story of strong women and a timeless romance. When Jane takes up the position of governess at Thornfield Hall she has no idea how much her new role and her new employer, Mr Rochester, are about to change her life. However everything is not as it seems at Thornfield and Jane knows Mr Rochester is hiding something. This classic novel is brilliant for anyone looking for a romance book with a compelling mystery woven throughout.

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7. The Princess Bride

William Goldman

The beautiful Buttercup falls in love with the farm boy Westley but the course of true love never did run smooth in this quirky fairy tale romance. There are giants and sword fights and lots of romantic moments for anyone who likes their love stories to come with a dash of humour and fantasy.

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8. The Notebook

Nicholas Sparks

This novel is Nicholas Sparks at his best, a romantic and moving book about love that lasts a lifetime. When Noah returns home after fighting in World War Two and starts a restoration project on an old plantation the last person he expects to run into is his old sweetheart Allie. Despite being engaged to another man, Allie can't help feeling drawn to Noah once more. Find out whether Allie and Noah will be together for good in this gorgeous novel.

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9. Outlander

Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander has become one of the most popular romantic reads in recent years. So, whether you're on the look-out for a racy new page-turner or are a huge fan of the TV show and want to read ahead, this book is a great choice. When Claire Randall goes on a second honeymoon to the Scottish Highlands with her husband after the Second World War she comes across some mysterious standing stones that send her back in time to 1743. There, she fights to stay alive and seeks safety with a tough but kind highlander called Jamie.

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10. Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy

In 19th century Russia, Anna Karenina is living an empty existence married to a man she doesn't love, that is until the young Count Vronsky comes into her life. Their love affair will surely lead her to ruin but with Vronsky she finally finds purpose to her life. This classic has been wowing readers for well over a century and now you can give this romantic classic a go.

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Now you have plenty of books to swoon over, snuggle up with a fantastic love story soon.

  • AEECG 14 years +
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    'The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself'. Passionate, poetic and revolutionary, "Jane Eyre" is a novel of naked emotional power. Its story of a defiant, fiercely intelligent woman who refuses to accept her appointed place in society - and instead finds love on her own terms - has become famous as one of the greatest romances ever written, but it is also a brooding Gothic mystery, a profound depiction of character and a transformative work of the imagination. This is the Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
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    Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner recently returned form the Second World War. Noah is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories...until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again. Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments and the fundamental changes that affect us all. It is a story of miracles and emotions that will stay with you forever.
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    Part of "Penguin's" beautiful hardback "Clothbound Classics" series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.
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    This is the "Penguin English Library Edition" of "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte. "May you not rest, as long as I am living. You said I killed you - haunt me, then". Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him. As Heathcliff's bitterness and vengeance is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past. "The Penguin English Library" - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
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    The greatest love story in English, William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a play of star-crossed lovers who take a valiant stand against social convention, with tragic consequences. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited with notes by T.J.B. Spencer, and an introduction by Adrian Poole. 'What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet'. The city of Verona, torn apart by the violent feud between the families of Montague and Capulet, is a powder keg waiting to explode; the Prince of Verona, seeking to restore order, has declared any breach of the peace punishable by death. But for the young Montague Romeo, and his lover, the Capulet Juliet, the enmity of their families is immaterial. Meeting in secret, the two lovers gradually spiral towards disaster as their respective families edge closer towards open warfare. A play that has inspired films as diverse as Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story and Baz Luhrmann's Romeo+Juliet, Romeo and Juliet is a dazzling combination of passion and hatred, bawdy comedy and high tragedy. This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Romeo and Juliet, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote some of the most exceptional works of drama ever produced, including Romeo and Juliet (1595), Henry V (1599), Hamlet (1601), Othello (1604), King Lear (1606) and Macbeth (1606), as well as a collection of 154 sonnets, which number among the most profound and influential love-poetry in English. If you enjoyed Romeo and Juliet, you might like A Midsummer Night's Dream, also available in Penguin Shakespeare. "Romeo was your first "rebel without a cause." (Baz Luhrmann, director of Romeo+Juliet).
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    Tomorrow is another day ...Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell's magnificent historical epic is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and a people forever changed. Above all, it is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett O'Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler. Since its first publication in 1936, Gone With The Wind has endured as a story for all our times.
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    Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So, when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts (no survivors) her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, bad men, good men, snakes, spiders, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles, and a damn fine story.
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    FROM AWARD-WINNING TRANSLATORS RICHARD PEVEAR AND LARISSA VOLOKHONSKY. Doctor Zhivago is the epic novel of Russia in the throes of revolution and one of the greatest love stories ever told. Yuri Zhivago, physician and poet, wrestles with cruel experience of the new order and the changes it has wrought in him, and is torn between love for his wife and family, and the passionate, beautiful Lara. Banned in the Soviet Union until 1988, Doctor Zhivago was nonetheless published covertly in Russian by the CIA and translated into many languages. In 1958 Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Vintage Classic Russians Series: Published for the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, these are must-have, beautifully designed editions of six epic masterpieces that have survived controversy, censorship and suppression to influence decades of thought and artistic expression.
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    TRANSLATED BY LOUISE AND AYLMER MAUDE. Anna is a beautiful, intelligent woman whose passionate affair with the dashing Count Vronsky leads her to ruin. But her story is also about a search for meaning, and by twinning it with that of Levin, an awkward idealist whose happy marriage and domestic trials form the backdrop for a similar quest, Tolstoy creates a rich and complex masterpiece that has captured the imagination of readers for decades. The Vintage Classic Russians Series: Published for the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, these are must-have, beautifully designed editions of six epic masterpieces that have survived controversy, censorship and suppression to influence decades of thought and artistic expression.
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    This is the first novel in the bestselling Outlander series - soon to be a major new TV series. What if your future was the past? 1945, and Claire Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. It's a second honeymoon, a chance to learn how war has changed them and to re-establish their loving marriage. But one afternoon, Claire walks through a circle of standing stones and vanishes into 1743, where the first person she meets is a British army officer - her husband's six-times great-grandfather. Unfortunately, Black Jack Randall is not the man his descendant is, and while trying to escape him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Scottish outlaws, and finds herself a Sassenach - an outlander - in danger from both Jacobites and Redcoats. Marooned amid danger, passion and violence, her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.