Romantic Books


The Flatiron Building gave me a valentine! Too bad I don\’t like chocolate.

Good Lord, it’s been far too long since I last blogged. I really have no good excuse: I’ve been about as busy as always, so the actual reason is I haven’t felt like blogging. I don’t have many topics to blog about, but when I do get around to writing a post, I write long. It can get sort of wearying.

But I did swear I would I blog more this year, and more consistently. And as today is Valentine’s Day, V-Day, Interplanetary Be Who You Are DAy, or Whatever Holiday It Is You Celebrate Day, I am going to blog about my Top 5 Favourite Romantic Books (yes, I do have favourite romantic books).

Despite my anti-FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELINGS stance, I do love a good romance, I do. However, my choice of romantic books are not necessarily romantic as a whole; more often, these books contain moments and lines that so perfectly encapsulate what it is to be in love I consider them romantic. Not all of these love stories end “happily” either, but I don’t consider getting into (or staying in) a relationship the end goal of romance.

I rank these books by what I call the Heartstrings Factor; that is, how much my heartstrings twang when I read them. Secondary to that is the Swoon Factor, or how furiously the butterflies flutter in my stomach. (Note: books rarely, if ever set off the Swoon Factor. But having a Swoon Factor is not necessary for me to find the book romantic.)

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

Heartstrings Factor: 5 of 5
Swoon Factor: 0 of 5

I know, I know, I know, this book is probably the last book on someone’s list when it comes to romance, but honestly, THE BOOK THIEF moved me in almost every way possible. The relationships between the characters in this book were so real, so visceral that the heartstrings factor is practically off the chart here. The Swoon Factor is nearly in the negative numbers, but oh god, the number of times I clutched my hand to my chest! Twang! Twang! Twang!

Saukerl [an insult],” she laughed, and as she held up her hand, she knew completely that he was simultaneously calling her a Saumensch. I think that’s as close to love as eleven-year-olds get.

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë

Heartstrings Factor: 2 of 5
Swoon Factor: 4 of 5

This novel doesn’t quite tug at my emotions the way THE BOOK THIEF does, but it does make up for it in swooniness. I don’t swoon often in books, but the moment Rochester reveals the way he feels about Jane? Sa-woon.

I ask you to pass through life at my side–to be my second self, and best earthly companion.

KUSHIEL’S AVATAR by Jacqueline Carey

Heartstrings Factor: 3 of 5
Swoon Factor: 3 of 5

I am a sucker for Love Overcoming Impossible Odds, but not in a Romeo and Juliet sort of way, but a We Will Fight For Our Relationship sort of way. I was sort of indifferent to Phèdre and Joscelin’s courtship in the first two books of this trilogy, but damn if the last book didn’t slay me. By the time the third book opens, they have been together for over a decade. In those years, they have become a unit, a team, of pair of individuals who know each other so deeply they practically move as one.

I won’t give the plot away, but in order to save the realm (yet again), Phèdre has to push their love to its absolute limit. His support is unwavering, but is love enough to hold them together once they’ve both gone to their deepest, darkest places? The answer is yes, but because they fought for it, they fought tooth and nail to heal themselves and each other.

That kiss, I cannot describe.

It was like a poem, a prayer, a homecoming unlooked-for.

ANNE OF THE ISLAND by L. M. Montgomery

Heartstrings Factor: 2 of 5
Swoon Factor: ONE MILLION!!!!!!

This is probably the only book in the world to actually turn me into a squeeing 12-year-old girl. Yep, that’s right. I won’t even try and explain; if you don’t understand why Anne and Gilbert are my OTP 4EVA!!!!!1one then…well, go read it.

I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends—and YOU!

THE AMBER SPYGLASS by Philip Pullman

Heartstrings Factor: A GAZILLION!!!!!!
Swoon Factor: 3 of 5

Oh god, the end of THE AMBER SPYGLASS sort of reduces me to an emotional wreck. And it’s not even that sad! (Sort of.) The way Philip Pullman writes about coming of age and first love and the discovery of incipient sexuality…I…I…I have no words. I’ll let Philip Pullman write them for me.

Then Lyra took one of those little red fruits. With a fast-beating heart, she turned to him and said, “Will…”

And she lifted the fruit gently to his mouth.

She could see from his eyes that he knew at once what she meant, and that he was too joyful to speak. Her fingers were still at his lips, and he felt them tremble, and he put his own hand to hold hers there, and neither of them could look; they were confused; they were brimming with happiness. […]

Around them there was nothing but silence, as if all the world were holding its breath.

The moment Will and Lyra both discover they’re in love is so eloquent, so simple, and so beautiful. They say everything in gestures and not words and I find it so much more poignant because they’re not shouting their FEEEEEEEEEEEEELINGS all over the place.

Being in love was like China: you knew it was there, and no doubt it was very interesting, and some people went there, but I never would. I’d spend all my life without ever going to China, but it wouldn’t matter, because there was all the rest of the world to visit… And I thought: am I really going to spend the rest of my life without feeling that again? I thought: I want to go to China. It’s full of treasures and strangeness and mysteries and joy.

Dr. Mary Malone is recounting her time as a nun before she became a physicist.

As Mary said that, Lyra felt something strange happen to her body. She felt as if she had been handed the key to a great house she hadn’t known was there, a house that was somehow inside her, and as she turned the key, she felt the other doors opening deep in the darkness, and lights coming on. She sat trembling as Mary went on.

I took the quote from the U.S. edition. The U.K. edition was more explicit about Lyra’s budding sexuality.

I’ll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight.

And Philip Pullman just destroyed me with that reference to Walt Whitman and transcendentalism. I’m dead now. Dead.

So these are my top 5 romantic books! What are yours?

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6 Responses to Romantic Books

  1. Kristan 15 Feb 2011 at 11:11 am #

    I can definitely agree with ANNE OF THE ISLAND. I haven’t read any of those others though…

    I have to admit, one of my favorite/most romantic books is HONEST ILLUSIONS by Nora Roberts. I might be biased because it was the first romance/romantic book I ever read… But it still makes me tingly all over when I reread Luke and Roxanne’s story.

    I wouldn’t call THE HOST a romantic book exactly, but I love the relationship that develops in it.

    And now I’m worried that you’re going to think I have like the worst taste ever, LOL, but oh well. I like those books.

    • JJ 15 Feb 2011 at 11:32 am #

      I can’t talk, really, as one of my favourite books of all time is about a bisexual, sexually masochistic courtesan who is also a spy. ;-) (The KUSHIEL’S LEGACY series by Jacqueline Carey.)

  2. Hannah 15 Feb 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    What the hell? They really felt the need to change that section of The Amber Spyglass in the US Edition? Blimey. I mean, I know one of the over-arching themes of the books is growing to maturity and with that comes sexual awakening, but that seems to me like a prime example of adults having more of a problem with what children *might* read into a text rather than what a child reader would actually take from it.

    • JJ 15 Feb 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      We Americans are prudes, what can I say? (Le sigh.)

  3. Patji 15 Feb 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    I totally and completely agree with you about Anne of the Island. It is by far my favorite book out of the series and my all time favorite in the squee-factor. How could it not be with Anne and Gilbert! Though I will say right now that if Gilbert ever proposed to me then Anne can just hit the road xP

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