The best love stories that are even better than their movie versions

Who am I?

Genre fiction and Robert Louis Stevenson aside, I can’t imagine loving a novel that has no strong thread, or threads, of love running through it. Fiction is written to entertain, it is true, but fiction’s higher aim is to put us in touch with our own humanity—our capacity to love, and to feel loss. We write to make people feel, and a powerful evocation of love will do that. I wouldn’t write a novel with no romantic love at its center, but I work hard too at love between siblings, friends, children, and parents. 


I wrote...

The Sweetest Days

By John Hough Jr.,

Book cover of The Sweetest Days

What is my book about?

The best and sweetest days of a long marriage aren’t necessarily the early, youthful ones. The Sweetest Days is the story of a marriage that comes to full fruition in its autumn.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Huckleberry Finn

John Hough Jr. Why did I love this book?

Great characters drive great novels, and the cast of Huck Finn is as rich, varied, idiosyncratic, and vivid as any in literature. Some will make you laugh, some will make you angry, some will touch your heart. This is America’s best book, as Ernest Hemingway famously said, and if you haven’t read it, you’ve deprived yourself.

By Mark Twain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Huckleberry Finn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOTE: Grade level 3 - 8 (ages 8 - 14)

Chafed by the "sivilized" restrictions of his foster home, and weary of his drunkard father's brutality, Huck Finn fakes his own death and sets off on a raft down the Mississippi River. He is soon joined by Jim, an escaped slave. Together, they experience a series of rollicking adventures that have amused readers, young and old, for over a century.
The fugitives become close friends as they weather storms together aboard the raft and spend idyllic days swimming, frying catfish suppers, and enjoying their independence. Their peaceful existence comes to…


Book cover of Plainsong

John Hough Jr. Why did I love this book?

First, Plainsong is beautifully written. Read it for the sheer pleasure of Haruf’s simple, sweet, elegant prose. The novel is two love stories: romantic love between two high school teachers, and the love that grows between the elderly brothers and Colorado ranchers, the McPherons, and the pregnant teenage girl they take under their roof. 

By Kent Haruf,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Plainsong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

National Book Award Finalist

A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.

In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known. From these unsettled lives emerges a vision…


Book cover of Cold Mountain

John Hough Jr. Why did I love this book?

Cold Mountain is one of the best of all Civil War novels, if it can be described as that; there are no battles of armies in the book, there is the Confederate deserter Inman, making his way home, in a hostile land,  to his beloved, Ada Monroe. He will get there, finally, but there is no peace here, either. Cold Mountain is an epic adventure story, and a tale of true love.  

By Charles Frazier,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Cold Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1997, Charles Frazier’s debut novel Cold Mountain made publishing history when it sailed to the top of The New York Times best-seller list for sixty-one weeks, won numerous literary awards, including the National Book Award, and went on to sell over three million copies. Now, the beloved American epic returns, reissued by Grove Press to coincide with the publication of Frazier’s eagerly-anticipated second novel, Thirteen Moons. Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, a Confederate soldier named Inman decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves.…


Book cover of News of the World

John Hough Jr. Why did I love this book?

Another adventure novel that will keep you turning pages. The grizzled Captain Kidd, veteran of the War of 1812, finds himself obligated to take Joanna, an 11-year-old white girl who was captured when a baby and raised by Kiowas from Kansas to her family in Texas. The journey is long and hazardous, and by the time it is over, the old man and the frightened feral girl who spoke no English are devoted to each other. 

By Paulette Jiles,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked News of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust. In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his…


Book cover of A Farewell to Arms

John Hough Jr. Why did I love this book?

No writer of fiction can afford to ignore Hemingway’s spare, disciplined prose, and I have been studying him since I began to write as a kid. “No writer makes us feel more alive,” wrote the critic Alfred Kazin of Hemngway, and to read him is an emotional awakening. A Farewell to Arms, which is set in Italy in World War I, is one of the world’s great love stories. 

By Ernest Hemingway,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Farewell to Arms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ernest Hemingway's classic novel of love during wartime.

Written when Ernest Hemingway was thirty years old and lauded as the best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield, this gripping, semiautobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep.

Hemingway famously rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times to get the words right. A…


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The Blighted Mission

By E. Chris Ambrose,

Book cover of The Blighted Mission

E. Chris Ambrose Author Of The Mongol's Coffin

New book alert!

Who am I?

As an art school drop-out who'd been majoring in sculpture, I'm fascinated by material culture—artifacts created by early peoples that reveal their cultural values. Often, the relics and sites that engage both archaeologists and readers suggest unexpected depths of knowledge that show human ingenuity through the ages. I strive to incorporate the details of an artifact or monument's creation into the clues and descriptions in my work, hopefully illuminating a little-known historical realm, if only by torchlight as the adventure unfolds. The fact that I get to explore so many exotic locations, in research if not in person, is a definite plus!

E. Chris' book list on weaving adventure and history

What is my book about?

Disgraced British anthropologist Nigel Rowe hopes his YouTube adventure channel will be just the treat to redeem him, but vengeful treasure hunters have other plans! Seeking a legendary Jesuit mission in Baja, Nigel saves his producer’s life when the man takes a bullet meant for him. 

When an ex-Marine strolls up for a bodyguard interview, and dresses him down for his lax security, she might be precisely what he needs, or the last face he'll ever see. They plunge into the desert in search of fame, fortune and viral footage. Will he survive long enough to work out who's after him or meet a sticky end in the mountains of Mexico? All he can hope is that his new partner's doesn’t pull the trigger herself.

The Blighted Mission

By E. Chris Ambrose,

What is this book about?

A disgraced British anthropologist hopes his YouTube adventure channel will redeem him, but vengeful treasure hunters have other plans.

From the author of the internationally best-selling Bone Guard archaeological adventures!

On the trail of a legendary Jesuit mission in Baja—and the treasure it may contain—Nigel Rowe leaps into action to save the life of his producer when the man takes a bullet meant for Nigel. Alas, the list of those who might wish him dead spans the globe and ranges from American treasure hunters to Russian mobsters to his own dear brother, with their mother's consent if not her explicit…


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