The best romantic love books

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

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Convenience Store Woman

By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori,

Book cover of Convenience Store Woman

Keiko Furukura can’t find her fit in the world until she’s hired as a sales clerk at Smile Mart. (I imagine it’s like the 7-11 stores in Tokyo, which serve pretty good food.) She’s an ideal worker, primarily because her passion for Smile Smart is genuine. Yet her sister and others think she should marry, pursue a career, and at least have a boyfriend. Herein lies the heart of the inner struggle, to which each of us navigates to some degree or another: how much to relinquish oneself in order to please others? Keiko’s inner battle is valiant and believable, and I rooted for her throughout the story to choose her idiosyncratic, odd self over something as bland as the world’s definition of female. 


Who am I?

When I was 12, I was given The Book of Questions by Neruda Pablo. “Tell me, is the rose naked or is that her only dress?” It was the perfect book for me, with an abundance of questions. As I got older, the questions turned more serious: what are these forces restricting women to a narrow strip of being? To a slim wedge of psychological existence? How did the definition of female pare down to only a fistful of traits—nurturing, accommodating, object of desire, etc.? I’ve found solace in books, with fully dimensional female characters who refuse society’s common assumptions. It’s these females I try to create in my work. 


I wrote...

The Translator

By Nina Schuyler,

Book cover of The Translator

What is my book about?

When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, she suffers a brain injury, a rare but real injury: the ability to speak only the language learned later in life—Japanese. Isolated from the English-speaking world, she goes to Japan for refuge, only to be confronted by a Japanese writer who accuses her of mangling the translation of his novel. 

Devoted to her work, Hanne seeks out the inspiration for the man’s novel to redeem her good name, an unemployed Japanese Noh actor named Moto. Through their contentious and sexually charged interactions, Moto finds his way back on stage and Hanne begins to understand how she mistranslated not only the novel, but also her daughter.

Gone With the Wind

By Margaret Mitchell,

Book cover of Gone With the Wind

It’s been years since I’ve read this book and yet I could tell you a million details about the story, the main character as well as the side characters. I didn’t like the character of Scarlet for the majority of the book but I always understood her and respected her determination to survive no matter what. I can’t help but admire Margaret for writing such a strong, complex character.


Who am I?

I have a passion for strong, complex female characters because I find that teen fiction lacks the combination of strong as well as complex. I have found authors sometimes focus on only showing how a character is strong but forgetting that only being strong isn’t realistic. A character needs flaws and depth to be relatable. As a writer of teen fiction, this is what I strive for in my own work and I hope with each story I accomplish it, whether the genre be teen fiction or fantasy. 


I wrote...

A Secret Service

By Joy Jenkins,

Book cover of A Secret Service

What is my book about?

In a Washington D.C. private high school, where everyone is related to someone in power, Carter Owens is no one. Her biting sarcasm and snarky jabs make her impossible to beat in a word fight, and when words don’t work, she uses her fists.

With a Secret Service agent for a father, Carter lives each day with the fear that one night he might not come home. Between that daily fear, and a mother who walked out on both of them, Carter is convinced it’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length. That resolve is challenged when two new students decide to befriend her. Along with their friendship they bring the mystery of their true identities, a mystery Carter is determined to solve.

The New Rules of Marriage

By Terrence Real,

Book cover of The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work

I picked up this book about 12 years ago. Being a psychotherapist I love, love learning. I love attending workshops (pre-covid) and learning new ways of thinking. New ways of looking at issues. New ways to look at how we get stuck in our relationships and life. Reading this book gave me tools that have transformed my therapy practice and how I work with couples. How I interact with my husband, my sons, and my close friends. It helped me by giving me insight into who I want to be in a relationship and it gave me self-worth as well. I have all the couples I work with read this book and it speeds along our therapy work. 


Who am I?

I have been practicing psychotherapy since 1999. I started reading self-help books when I was 19 years old in college because I wanted to know more about myself, why I felt the way I did at times, why I felt stuck at times and how I could feel empowered to make changes. Sadly many books don’t tell you what you can do to change and that is why I wrote my book. The books I am sharing with you have had big effects on my thinking and therefore my behavior. For it is in how we think, we act in our lives and with others. These books help you look at you.


I wrote...

The Stressless Brain

By Madhur-Nain Webster,

Book cover of The Stressless Brain

What is my book about?

In The Stressless Brain, I detail the importance of building a relationship with yourself through the use of Kundalini Meditation. By incorporating yogic technology into your life, you can learn to govern your thoughts and emotions in a mindful manner. Meditation offers you the tools to view your life with clarity so that you can respond, rather than react, to stressful situations.

Bridging the worlds of yogic meditation, psychology, and science, The Stressless Brain will help you thoroughly understand stress and anxiety and how it affects your entire being: body, mind, and soul.  Whether you are experiencing mental hardships from your professional, personal, or romantic life, my objective is for you to find answers within yourself and make any necessary changes — all through the regular practice of meditation.

Lovely War

By Julie Berry,

Book cover of Lovely War

Lovely War is highly literary but lush in its emotional pull. Months after reading it, it still stands out. As has been a running theme throughout this list, the First World War is again the setting of the book. The inclusion of Greek gods as narrators lends a magical realism to the story, something that is also present in my book, where historical fiction and magical realism are blended in a literary style. In a sea of black and white, Lovely War is in stark technicolor. 


Who am I?

Before I became an author of ten historical fiction novels (thus far), I was a reader of historical fiction. The challenges of history are best navigated by strong characters. Throughout history, women have played an integral role but have been overlooked too often. Historical fiction with strong women brings these characters to life, giving them a voice and agency. Whatever role the woman has, from nurse to investigator to planter to maid to scientist to artist and more… interesting characters are necessary to activate an engaging plot, and that is something I look for both as a reader and as an author.


I wrote...

What Edward Heard

By Megan Easley-Walsh,

Book cover of What Edward Heard

What is my book about?

Shattered by his experiences on the Western Front in World War One, Edward is looking forward to the peacefulness of England. Partially deaf, everything is quieter than he’s accustomed to. Except for the nightmares that continue to haunt him. In Renaissance Venice, a young artist paints a portrait full of his love, devotion, and passion. When the painting was created, more than paint went into it. Now the painting has a magical ability: reading people’s deepest thoughts… even their secrets.

When Edward finds it, his world is rocked. He must face his demons from the war, or a young servant girl accused of murder might die. Even more alarming, someone is inside the painting: trapped. If Edward can’t solve the mysteries in time, they all might face disaster.

The Lover

By Marguerite Duras, Barbara Bray (translator),

Book cover of The Lover

This classic of illicit passion is so beautifully written, so mesmeric in its poetic prose and recreation of a long-gone world, it blew my mind when I first read it and changed my ideas about the possibilities of writing. The young Duras meets a Chinese man on a ferry crossing the Mekong at the start of this autobiographical novel. Their differences in age, wealth, class, race, and expectations, all play out, and it’s a novel as much about exploitation as sexual desire. It’s multi-layered, experimental, but has a real narrative tug. I love it!


Who am I?

I have written seven novels, and each time, I seem drawn to some aspect of illicit or transgressive human behaviour. I find it fascinating to see what goes on beneath the surface – the tiny clues that emerge, the betrayals of others and ourselves. I bought a copy of Lolita from my local bookshop when I was a teenager, and, deeply disturbing though that novel is, I think its themes and prose influenced me, as they have so many authors. In our imperfect lives, there’s also a sense of Schadenfreude to be had as a reader when we read about other people’s terrible mistakes.


I wrote...

The Seduction: An Addictive New Story of Desire and Obsession from the Bestselling Author of Sleep with Me

By Joanna Briscoe,

Book cover of The Seduction: An Addictive New Story of Desire and Obsession from the Bestselling Author of Sleep with Me

What is my book about?

Beth is relatively happily married, with one daughter and one stepson. She lives beside a shadowy stretch of canal by Camden Lock in London. Troubled by her past and the mother who rejected her, she starts to see a therapist, Dr. Tamara Bywater. Dr. Bywater – soothing, skilled, quietly charismatic – appears to help her, but gradually and unexpectedly she starts insinuating herself into Beth’s mind – and into her life. She is not what she seems at all. 

Lust, Caution

By Eileen Chang,

Book cover of Lust, Caution: The Story

Set in wartime Shanghai in a time of espionage, betrayal, and murder. Chang knew of what she wrote – her own husband worked for the pro-Japanese collaborationist Chinese government of Wang Jing-wei and was considered a traitor. It’s a wartime novel where bombs don’t fall and soldiers don’t fight but everyone, including the main character of Wang Chia-chih (based on a real-life Nationalist Chinese spy Zheng Pingru, but with a fair amount of Chang herself thrown in), is faced with issues of resistance, collaboration, fighting back or staying quiet. A novella, but no less a masterpiece for being short.


Who am I?

I came to Shanghai largely by accident back in the late twentieth century and found a city of art deco and modernism, of influences form east and west – then far less developed, smaller and more intimate, as if a dust sheet had been thrown over the city in 1949 and the metropolis underneath left to await a new era. The old city, the once international city that was the most modern in Asia – jazz, skyscrapers with elevators, streamline moderne villas, a hundred nationalities living cheek-by-jowl was still, seemingly, just within reach. I’ve never stopped being fascinated by that old world, or writing about it.


I wrote...

City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir

By Paul French,

Book cover of City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir

What is my book about?

1930s Shanghai could give Chicago a run for its money. In the years before the Japanese invaded, the city was a haven for outlaws from all over the world: a place where pasts could be forgotten, fascism and communism outrun, names invented, fortunes made – and lost. ‘Lucky’ Jack Riley was the most notorious of those outlaws. An ex-Navy boxing champion, he escaped from prison in the States, spotted a craze for gambling, and rose to become the Slot King of Shanghai. Ruler of the clubs in that day was ‘Dapper’ Joe Farren – a Jewish boy who fled Vienna’s ghetto with a dream of dance halls. His chorus lines rivaled Ziegfeld’s and his name was in lights above the city’s biggest casino.

In 1940 they bestrode the Shanghai Badlands like kings, while all around the Solitary Island was poverty, starvation, and genocide. They thought they ruled Shanghai; but the city had other ideas. This is the story of their rise to power, their downfall, and the trail of destruction they left in their wake.

The Glass Palace

By Amitav Ghosh,

Book cover of The Glass Palace

This epic historical fiction novel took me to Burma in 1885 and continues to 1990. The first line sets the standard for this gripping read, “In the marketplace of Mandalay, only the 11-year-old Indian boy Rajkumar recognizes the booming sounds beyond the curve of the river as the English cannon fire.” Rajkumar witnesses Britain’s invasion and capture of Burma’s capital. He sees the looters ransack the Glass Palace. Rajkumar catches sight of Dolly, a 10-year-old nursemaid. He recalls this sighting through the years as he makes his fortune in the teak trade. In this novel, the author brings to life the tumultuous political history of Burma and Malaya. Although I read the novel almost 20 years ago, I still recall vivid and powerful scenes.  


Who am I?

I’m fascinated with our familial, political, and cultural legacies, particularly events that displaced or forced immigration upon its people. Being Irish, we are dispersed to the four corners of the earth and often, I think about the millions of Irish immigrants who fled our shores to start again in a different country with a different culture and my imagination comes alive at the sights and changes they saw and how they had to adapt. I’ve written four historical fiction novels. One is based solely in Ireland, the others are based between Ireland and Jamaica, New York, and the American West. All of my novels are multigenerational.


I wrote...

The Tide Between Us

By Olive Collins,

Book cover of The Tide Between Us

What is my book about?

1821: A cargo of Irish children is deported to the cane fields of Jamaica. 1991: Their story is uncovered. Bestselling author Olive Collins “brings history to life in this mesmerizing epic spanning 5 generations and 170 years,” The Post.

My Last Continent

By Midge Raymond,

Book cover of My Last Continent

Few novels capture the thrills and the dangers of living in Antarctica amidst penguins, icebergs, and tourist vessels. Midge Raymond (who is my partner) has written a powerful novel that is more than just a romance between researchers, it is a cautionary tale about the precariousness of our world. For anyone considering (or dreaming) of a cruise to Antarctica, this is a must-read novel.


Who am I?

Travels to the Arctic and Antarctic and time spent alongside researching counting Magellanic penguins in Argentina have inspired not only The Tourist Trail but a life spent advocating for animals. The oceans may appear vast and impenetrable but they are fragile, and we need to act now to protect the many species who call these waters home. The books here not only expose the crisis we face but highlight those people and organizations who have dedicated their lives to protecting our planet and its many residents. It’s not too late to make a difference and I hope these books inspire you to lend your voice and energy to the fight.


I wrote...

The Tourist Trail

By John Yunker,

Book cover of The Tourist Trail

What is my book about?

The Tourist Trail is an environmental thriller about endangered species in the world's most remote waters and the people who put their lives on the line to protect them. Against the backdrop of the Southern Ocean, the novel weaves together the stories of Angela, a penguin researcher based in southern Argentina, Robert, an FBI agent in pursuit of an anti-whaling activist known as Aeneas; and Ethan Downes, a computer tech whose love for a passionate animal rights activist draws him into a dangerous mission among the icebergs of Antarctica.

Rebecca

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of Rebecca

Although this was made into a fabulous black and white film starring Lawrence Olivier, it still didn’t do justice to the sub-tropical magic of Cornwall or the tortured new Mrs. De Winter of Mandalay. It’s another psychologically adept narrative, with the gradual awakening of the main characters to horrific truths as fragile veneers begin to crumble under unspoken pressure. In a study of jealousy, misunderstandings, and naivety, a very real horror is gradually exposed. I love the way the human flaws are exposed, almost without their knowledge, as events escalate beyond their control, and the way Du Maurier breathes life into such a wild and exotic part of England—so remote from the rest of the country. Once again, we also have a snapshot of history and the dependence of minions on any benevolence, or otherwise, the upper classes may bestow. But most of all, it is Mrs. Danvers, the mad,…


Who am I?

I’m an English author and an ex-nurse (psychiatry). Many years ago, when I was writing for magazines and floundering for direction, I met a woman who’d been hurt by ritual satanic abuse. She disturbed me badly, and I began to research the subject, becoming passionate about showing how evil affects people, and how fear and mind games are woven into the fabric of life, carrying on through families. I’ve also loved discovering beautiful prose and how to express the complexities of the human condition. I was reading my mum’s cast-off Victoria Holt novels at age seven, so perhaps I should add my other passion—simply books.      


I wrote...

Father of Lies

By S.E. England,

Book cover of Father of Lies

What is my book about?

Ruby is the most violently disturbed patient ever admitted to Drummersgate Asylum, high on the bleak moors of northern England. With no improvement after two years, Dr. Jack McGowan finally decides to take a risk and hypnotises her. With terrifying consequences. A horrific dark force is now unleashed on the entire medical team, as each in turn attempts to unlock Ruby's shocking and sinister past. Who is this girl? And how did she manage to survive such unimaginable evil? Set in a desolate ex-mining village, where secrets are tightly kept and intruders hounded out, their questions soon lead to a haunted mill, the heart of darkness...and The Father of Lies...

The Handmaid's Tale

By Margaret Atwood,

Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Like all great dystopian books, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a powerful condemnation of our present reality, and is finding particular resonance in today’s debates on female agency and equality. The story takes place in a United States transformed into a religious-military dictatorship known as the Republic of Gilead, where women are only valued for what they can contribute to men. Beyond denying women property and literacy, Gilead denies them their names and autonomy over their bodies. The story is made more poignant and powerful through the eyes of Offred, a handmaid who still remembers and yearns for the life stolen from her—one where she had a job, a husband, and a child. The perfect dystopian book to feed your rebellion against female oppression.


Who am I?

All my life, I have been drawn to the dark, twisty, unconventional, rebellious stories; I was always a little disappointed with the Disney-fied fairytales, always enthralled by the dark imaginings of the originals. As I grew older, I recognised that these dark fables were not just confined to stories of fantasy, but present as seeds of discontent and destruction in our own reality—in the injustices of the present, and disasters of our potential future. As an author, I use these modern parables and prophecies—in dystopian, weird, and gothic science fiction—as a way to explore and critically reflect on our humanity and its future.  


I wrote...

Resistance

By Mikhaeyla Kopievsky,

Book cover of Resistance

What is my book about?

In a dystopian future, Paris is now the walled city-state of Otpor and revelling in its latest Golden Age: an intoxicating mix of abandon and apathy made possible by the Orthodoxy. The population is engineered into four neuro-social classes, ensuring citizens exist in complete equality, fraternity, and liberty. But, not everyone is satisfied with the status quo. When forbidden murals start appearing in the city, the Government moves quickly: realigning the neural conditioning of one of their Peacekeepers, Anaiya 234, and sending her deep undercover to infiltrate the resistance. As her realigned identity fractures and the city descends into chaos around her, Anaiya is forced to confront a different truth to the one she's been conditioned to obey.

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