The best love books

26 authors have picked their favorite books about love and why they recommend each book.

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Plato's Symposium

By Seth Benardete, Allan Bloom, Plato

Book cover of Plato's Symposium

Plato’s scintillating dialogue on the meaning of Love (as purveyed by a group of fifth-century Athenians including Socrates) is one of the key biographical texts about the philosopher. Allan Bloom provides an insightful essay on the central notion of the dialogue attributed to the ‘clever woman’ Diotima: the Ladder of Love.


Who am I?

I have studied the ancient world for over 50 years and have found that there are always new things to discover. Everyone thought that all that was known about Socrates had already been said, so I was excited to discover new evidence for his relationship with Aspasia - a woman of extraordinary influence and intellect - hiding in plain sight. I am a Professor of Classics at Oxford University and Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Jesus College, Oxford


I wrote...

Socrates in Love

By Armand D’Angour,

Book cover of Socrates in Love

What is my book about?

Socrates: the philosopher whose questioning gave birth to the ideas of Western thought, and whose execution marked the end of the Athenian "Golden Age". But what was he like as a younger man, and what impelled him to take the path of philosophy? My book investigates these questions, and unravels the evidence for a surprising and overlooked influence on Socrates' life and thought - the brilliant and unfairly defamed Aspasia of Miletus.

Buddha's Brain

By Rick Hanson, Richard Mendius,

Book cover of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

If you have an inner critic who berates you like Logan in Succession, you need this book. Learn how to work your mind and creating what you want is so much easier. Rick guides you to understand how your brain works – science is so cool! - and then how to change your brain so it works far better and that Logan guy shuts the hell up.


Who am I?

I’ve been obsessed with the creative process since I was 8 and read Harriet the Spy and realized her writing saved her and after I spied on one of my parent’s cocktail parties and wondered why everybody was so dull (I was so cheeky). Still, it’s the quest that drives me: how do we be fully ourselves in this world and how does creativity help? I explore this question on my podcast Create Out Loud and in my weekly newsletter, and these books have helped me formulate, if not answers, creative and mindful practices that sustain me daily. I hope they inspire you too.


I wrote...

Why Bother: Discover the Desire for What’s Next

By Jennifer Louden,

Book cover of Why Bother: Discover the Desire for What’s Next

What is my book about?

In Why Bother? best-selling author Jennifer Louden dares you to face the question we all ask at some point: why bother? Why bother to create, to write, to love, to risk disappointment again? She shows how to prioritize what’s calling you, especially when you’ve sidelined your creative dreams to raise kids, pay the rent, or take care of aging parents. And crucially, she shows you why tapping into your desires will give you the energy to move forward—even when there seems to be no point. Why bother is not a question to be ashamed of or run from, it’s a question to embrace and let it show you what’s next.

Bared Souls

By Ellie Wade,

Book cover of Bared Souls

Bared Souls is a unique story with interesting characters and a beautiful and tragic love story that pulls on your emotions and heartstrings. It makes you see love in a different way and takes on a topic that is hard to overcome for some. Even leading to death. Bared Souls sucks you in and will have you flipping the pages until the very end.


Who am I?

Everyone wants to find romance. Some of us find it within the pages—or more than once. I also think romance gets a bad rap, but I for one love to fall in love repeatedly. It doesn’t matter if they’re fictional because when you read a story; you get lost in their world, as though you’re their friend, too. That is what I strive for when I write my characters. I write them as someone you could go out for a drink with and just have a good time. However, most of my characters experience life or death situations, but that just makes them stronger in the end, especially when I base them on my real-life experiences like in Tattooed Dots.


I wrote...

Tattooed Dots

By Kimberly Knight,

Book cover of Tattooed Dots

What is my book about?

Easton Crawford put his modeling career before his marriage until it was ending in divorce. Years later, he is finally learning how to be the father his daughter needs him to be. He’s not looking for someone to step into the mother role—just nightly casual hook-ups. When his best friend convinces him that a good way to meet single women is to go on a singles cruise, he finds more than just a one-night stand.

At age thirteen, Brooke Bradley became an adult, raising her younger sister while her mother continually ignored her parenting responsibilities. Since then, Brooke has continued to take care of the people in her life, including her deadbeat boyfriend, Jared. For Brooke’s thirtieth birthday, her best friend surprises her with a cruise but fails to mention it’s a singles cruise. When Brooke meets Easton, the one man willing to be her constant, will she finally find the courage to leave Jared? 

Today Tonight Tomorrow

By Rachel Lynn Solomon,

Book cover of Today Tonight Tomorrow

If you’re wanting young adult romance with well-crafted sex scenes that are equal parts sweet, funny, and informative, Rachel Lynn Solomon is your gal. Today Tonight Tomorrow takes place in twenty-four hours in the city of Seattle as two high school rivals team up to win the senior class scavenger hunt. This fun, light-hearted novel is a great read for teens and adults alike! (And Solomon also has some stellar adult romances, if that’s more your speed.)


Who am I?

I grew up in Texas where sex-ed curriculums ranged from spotty and misinformed to totally nonexistent. Therefore, as a teenager, I learned about sex from the novels I read—at that time, I was devouring Meg Cabot and John Green books—and I remember wishing for more tangible information. (This was before Urban Dictionary and Tumblr, unfortunately.) Fast forward a decade, and I’m the one writing YA novels. I no longer live in Texas, but my passion for crafting sex-positive, uplifting, and accessible books for teenagers remains central to my life as a writer and reader.


I wrote...

The Night When No One Had Sex

By Kalena Miller,

Book cover of The Night When No One Had Sex

What is my book about?

It's the night of senior prom, and eighteen-year-old Julia has made a pact with her friends. They have secured a secluded cabin in the woods, one night without parental supervision, and plenty of condoms. But as soon as they leave the dance, the pact begins to unravel. Alex’s grandmother is undergoing emergency surgery, and he and his date rush to the hospital. Zoe is trying to figure out how she feels about getting off the waitlist at Yale. Madison’s chronic illness flares, holding her back once again from being a normal teenager. And Julia’s fantasy-themed role play gets her locked in a closet.

The Night When No One Had Sex finds a group of friends navigating the tenuous transition into adulthood and embracing the uncertainty of life after high school.

Getting the Love You Want

By Harville Hendrix, Helen Lakelly Hunt,

Book cover of Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples

Here’s the truth. Because I’m not interested in partnership currently, I haven’t had a chance to fully experience the power of this book in my own life. But, reading it has greatly influenced how I plan to shape partnership in the future. I was able to start the process in my last relationship, by using the simple, yet downright miraculous tool of Imago Dialog, which is outlined in this book. We had a lot of trouble communicating through conflict, and Imago became a foolproof way to get to the other side of once impassable chasms. I love this style of dialog, as well as many of the exercises in this book, so much that I often suggest them to friends and clients.

I once had an initial call with a prospective client and gave him the instructions for Imago. While we didn’t end up working together, he contacted me a…


Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in sex and relationships. When I was a teenager I was the go-to person for questions ranging from How do I give a good blowjob? to Where do I go for an abortion? to Should I say I love you before she does? I was sort of like the kid in Sex Education on Netflix. Perhaps, given the fact that I come from a long line of troubled marriages I tended to find great satisfaction in supporting others in working out their relationship woes. These days I do that as a job, along with trauma resolution, acting, writing, and nude modeling. 


I wrote...

Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out

By Jessica Graham,

Book cover of Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out

What is my book about?

A deep spiritual life and an extraordinary sex life are not mutually exclusive. This keenly personal and unflinchingly frank guide teaches readers how to find mindfulness in sex—without losing the fun and adventure. Graham weaves together her own story of sexual healing and transformation, with meditations, down-to-earth suggestions, and advice on everything from orgasms to threesomes to navigating differing desire levels.

Not only a tool kit for creating a rich and deeply satisfying sex life, this fun, explicit, and inclusive book conveys the deeper message of how combining meditation with sex can bring about profound spiritual awakenings.

Salaam, with Love

By Sara Sharaf Beg,

Book cover of Salaam, with Love

My favorite genre to read and write is romance, but there are different levels to them. I got the honor to read Salaam, With Love before it came out and although the romance in here is more subtle and sweet, this book is definitely about loving yourself. About discovering who you are and being proud of where you’re from. Although our lives and cultures are different, I can definitely relate to Dua’s journey of self-discovery and was rooting for her every step of the way. 


Who am I?

As a kid, I’ve always loved reading romances, even if it meant spending my recesses in the library and reading through lunchtime. This resulted in my 6th-grade teacher giving me the weirdest look when she caught me reading a romance at school. When I started writing, I wrote a couple of different genres to test out, but YA contemporary romances were always the ones that stuck with me. I loved writing about the fluttery feelings of first love and the complexities of an uncertain future. It also helps that I met my husband, the love of my life, in high school so I’ll always have a soft spot for books that make me feel that way again.


I wrote...

Fake It Till You Break It

By Jenn P. Nguyen,

Book cover of Fake It Till You Break It

What is my book about?

Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together. After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time―and then they’ll be free.

It’s the perfect plan - except that it turns out maybe Mia and Jake don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…

God's Always Loving You

By Janna Matthies, Airin O'Callaghan (illustrator),

Book cover of God's Always Loving You

God’s Always Loving You lets children know that God is with them in every situation, whether joyous, frightening, or frustrating. Most of all, he is loving them and working to make things new. The meter is flawless, and the stanzas are sprinkled with just the right amount of alliteration to make it pleasing to read, but not a tongue twister. Toddlers will love to join in on the answer to the question posed in each scenario: God, that’s who! 


Who am I?

“I am loved and forgiven. What a wonderful thing! I’m adopted as God’s own. I’m a child of the King!” I am an author who wants to help parents write important truths on their children’s hearts. Nothing is a book I wish I had written sooner, and would have loved to have read with my own children when they were little enough to hold in my lap. I hope these book recommendations help you share God’s love with your little ones, so that when they grow up they are sure of the promise that nothing can ever separate them from God’s love.


I wrote...

Nothing: Nothing Can Separate You from God's Love!

By Natalee Creech, Joseph Cowman (illustrator),

Book cover of Nothing: Nothing Can Separate You from God's Love!

What is my book about?

Nothing is a joyful celebration of the promise from Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from God’s love: not the deepest sea, not a rumbling volcano...not even the things we do wrong! 

The Treachery of Beautiful Things

By Ruth Francis Long,

Book cover of The Treachery of Beautiful Things

Beneath the surface of this beautifully written old-style fairytale there lies a compelling examination of free will. This thematic depth adds a delicious, chewy meat to what is already an enjoyable romantic read. I loved the characters here. Jenny’s repeated struggle to overcome the fairytale roles that are imposed upon her, and the properly dark consequences of failure in the fairy realm, make this an excellent YA romance adventure that's hard to forget.


Who am I?

I was a weird kid. Often accused of ‘thinking too much’, I cut my literary teeth on Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K Dick, and Shirley Jackson. Raised on their dark milk, I grew up wanting more than hollow scares and mindless eviscerations. Don’t just give me a scary story, give me a scary story that resonates, one that raises a lens to our world, our history, the rules we’re asked to live by. Unsettle me, make me think. Most of all, give me characters worth my precious time. These are the kind of stories I endeavor to write and the ones I most enjoy reading. I hope you enjoy this small selection as much as I have.

I wrote...

Resonance

By Celine Kiernan,

Book cover of Resonance

What is my book about?

Ireland, 1890: two ruthless immortals prowl Dublin’s theatre district. Ancient, pitiless, and caring for none but their own twisted family, they will stop at nothing to maintain their grip on life.

A hardworking seamstress, the young man who loves her, and a penniless American magician soon find themselves ensnared. Trapped in a snowbound country estate, the latest additions to a warped collection, they are nothing to their kidnappers but food, nothing but entertainment. Soon they will be nothing at all. But, miles from home and unlikely to survive, Tina, Joe, and Harry understand that far more is at stake than their own small lives.

The Catalogue of the Universe

By Margaret Mahy,

Book cover of The Catalogue of the Universe

Perhaps our greatest writer for children and young adult fiction, two-time Carnegie Medal winner Margaret Mahy, this book won the 2005 Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association. Essentially it’s a love story, but not as you’ve ever experienced it before. It’s brainy, surprising, endearing, and really, really worth a read!  


Who am I?

I love Aotearoa New Zealand books! Our writers are brave, feisty, original - and living in ‘the land of the long white cloud’ at the bottom of the globe gives us a unique take on the world that permeates through everything we write. But we struggle to get our voices heard internationally, so far from the rest of you! This is your chance to push out your boundaries and explore stories that derive from a culture very different from your own, while sharing the same human emotions that bring us all together. As one of these writers, I challenge you to check us out – you won’t be disappointed!


I wrote...

Singing Home The Whale

By Mandy Hager,

Book cover of Singing Home The Whale

What is my book about?

The extraordinary story of how the arrival of a baby orca whale threatens to tear apart a fishing community and forever changes the life of the boy who finds it.

Will Jackson is hiding out, a city boy reluctantly staying with his uncle in small town New Zealand while he struggles to recover from a brutal attack and the aftermath of a humiliating Youtube clip gone viral. After he discovers a young abandoned orca his life is further thrown into chaos when he rallies to help protect it against hostile locals. The boy and whale develop a unique bond, forged by Will’s love of singing. An exciting plot-driven story full of drama, tension, and romance, this magical book captures both heart and mind from start to finish.

Socrates in Love

By Christopher Phillips,

Book cover of Socrates in Love: Philosophy for a Die-Hard Romantic

This book really captures what it’s like to do philosophy in an informed but informal way. Philosophy as Socrates practiced it, and as it often is at its best, is a dialogue among several interlocutors. Different people share their different views on a topic, compare them, scrutinize and criticize them, and hopefully improve them. Phillips started a movement of Socratic cafés where people got together to do just that. The topics recorded here analyze love in its various forms (erotic, familial, friendly, hospitable, spiritual, and philosophical). Love is, in fact, basic to philosophy, which, as the word philosophia implies, is the love of wisdom. Read this in conjunction with Plato’s dialogues about Socrates’ trial and death: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo.


Who am I?

I’m a philosopher who’s taught mostly undergraduates for over thirty years at small liberal arts colleges in the US, and I’ve held research fellowships at the University of Edinburgh and Williams College. I’ve co-authored three “toolkit” books – The Philosopher’s Toolkit, The Ethics Toolkit, and The Critical Thinking Toolkit. My more scholarly work, however, has focused on skepticism, for example in Hume’s Scepticism. I also like to write about pop culture, especially for collections like my Big Lebowski and Philosophy. Fundamentally, though, I’m just a lover of dialectic and an explorer in the world of ideas. Nothing, for me, is more enjoyable.


I wrote...

The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods

By Peter S. Fosl, Julian Baggini,

Book cover of The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods

What is my book about?

Most books about philosophy focus on famous figures and movements, such as Plato, Hume, existentialism, rationalism, etc. Their central purpose is to convey the basic ideas developed by those philosophers and those streams of thought. The public philosopher Julian Baggini and I, however, thought it might be a good idea to write a book organized instead around what philosophers actually do when they philosophize. We asked ourselves, “How do philosophers of all kinds generate and justify ideas? How is philosophy like and unlike the sciences? How does it compare to literary criticism, fiction, and poetry? What’s its relationship to religious practice? How can more advanced philosophers refine their thinking?” It was a kind of a hit and now appears in over seven languages.

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