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Posted on Feb 10, 2017 in Top Picks, What We're Reading Now

The Best and Worst Love Stories for Valentine’s Day

Does Valentine’s Day have you feeling warm and fuzzy, ready to curl up with a sappy love story? Or does the sight of roses and chocolates have you ready to swear off love altogether? Whatever your feelings this February 14, we’ve got the perfect book to keep you company. In the words of the great John Green, “pain demands to be felt.” And there’s nothing like Valentine’s Day to remind us that love hurts, even in literature’s greatest love stories. Here’s our list of the best and worst love stories for Valentine’s Day.

The Best:


Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” –Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights by Emily BronteWuthering Heights, Emily Brontë’s only novel, is not what you might expect from a 19th century love story. Sure, it’s got commentary about manners, society, and class, but it’s also got ghosts, revenge, passion, and pain. Published in 1847, it tells the story of the turbulent love between Catherine and Heathcliff, played out on the unforgiving English moors.
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The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created.” –Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
The Notebook by Nicholas SparksKeep the tissues close for The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks’ novel about an enduring and evolving love. Set in beautiful coastal Carolina, the story of Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson is one that will stick with you. We meet Noah after he’s returned from the Second World War. He has spent his life savings restoring a dilapidated plantation home to its former glory. But he can’t stop thinking about a girl from his past, a girl who changed his life forever. This novel shows you that true love will return to you one way or another.
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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

“Don’t be afraid… There’s the two of us now.” –Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
First released in 1990, Outlander is the novel that launched Diana Gabaldon’s epic series (and her career). With time travel, violence, passion, and 18th century Scotland, the book is a recipe for success. It tells the story of Claire Randall, a woman who leads a double life—in two different centuries—after she is accidentally transported two centuries back in time. While it’s full of history, adventure, and Scottish warriors, at its core is a love story that transcends time.
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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” –John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenIf you managed somehow not to read The Fault in Our Stars yet, there’s no time like the present. But be warned: you will cry. After all, a love story about a terminally ill teenager who falls for the handsome new guy in her cancer Support Group isn’t likely to have a happily-ever-after ending. Instead, John Green asks: what if there is no ever-after? What if the life you live to the fullest is shorter than it should be? The answers aren’t easy, but along the way is an insightful story about love, life, and death.
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

“It was the kind of kiss that made me know that I was never so happy in my whole life.” –Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChobskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower is a high school coming of age story that has love, loss, happiness, sorrow, awkwardness, first dates, and everything in between. Set in the early 1990s, the book follows introverted Charlie as he navigates the difficulties not only of being a freshman in high school, but of being a freshman in high school whose best friend has committed suicide and who can’t really figure out where he fits in. Charlie and Sam break through the awkwardness of being wallflowers to find each other.
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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldIf you know one thing about The Great Gatsby, it’s probably that Gatsby is filthy rich, and that he loves Daisy Buchanan (okay, that’s two things). In fact, Gatsby loves Daisy so much that he built his entire life—the lavish parties, the fabulous mansion, the decadence—just to prove himself to her. And if you’ve learned anything from literature’s most famous love stories, you may have guessed that the love story of Gatsby and Daisy doesn’t have a fairytale ending. But what’d be the fun in that?
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The Worst:


Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

“There are no longer any predetermined life paths. Each of us is on our own.” -Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance
Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance BookDo you ever feel like the days of high romance, i.e. real, interpersonal connections and beautifully articulated letters, have been ruined by technology. Well, you’re not the only one. Aziz Ansari agrees wholeheartedly. Paired with Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at New York University, and a wealth of data, stories, and insight, Ansari is able to create an insightful and funny book about romance in the modern world. Modern Romance will help you understand what’s missing in today’s hyper-connected world.
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Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbiePrincesses have a certain needy quality to them. When you think of the Disney greats (and that’s exactly where your mind went), you’re probably imagining Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. They are all women who needed a man to rescue them. And, well, that’s just not always the case. In Linda Rodriguez McRobbie’s wonderful Princesses Behaving Badly, McRobbie removes the romance, glamour, and the Prince Charmings to reveal real princesses. Warriors, politicians, pirates, runaways, and so on, these women proved they didn’t need men to survive and thrive.

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Atonement by Ian McEwan

“a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn, not easily mended.” –Ian McEwan, Atonement
Atonement by Ian McEwanIan McEwan’s Atonement is an intense read, but it’s a must for anyone not quite incensed by the cookie-cutter romance of Valentine’s Day. Romance is real, it’s primal, and it’s often messy. And Atonement captures that perfectly. Moving seamlessly through time, McEwan is able to show how young love can be difficult to understand and project and the fallout of assumptions and accusations.
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The Awakening by Kate Chopin

“but whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself.” –Kate Chopin, The Awakening
The Awakening by Kate ChopinThere are a number of reasons why this novel is so immensely important. It is part of a literary tradition that culminates in the work of William Faulkner and Tennesse Williams, and it’s an early work of feminist literature. However, it’s the latter part we want to focus on today. Valentine’s Day is a day where society’s conception is to revere relationships and shame the less romantic or single. For those looking to retreat from the day’s “meaning”, a book about independence from romantic relationships might just be the trick.
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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

“There’s a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.” –Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnRelationships can be difficult. You’re dedicating yourself to another person with their own personalities and quirks. And you tend to be the obvious prime suspect when they’re murdered. Or, at least, that’s the plot of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Say goodbye to any semblance of Valentine’s Day love and romance. Instead, say hello to a deep psychological thriller with flawed characters, incomplete information, and a world of plot twists.
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Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“People living alone get used to loneliness.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
Tender is the Night by F. Scott FitzgeraldCan we all agree that F. Scott Fitzgerald is the king of failed relationships? From Jay Gatsby to Dick Divers, Fitzgerald knew how to create the flawed males of the gilded age. Affairs, psychological disorders, alcoholism, and eventual ruin, Tender is the Night carries all the hallmarks of a failed relationship. Not only does it reflect Fitzgerald’s own late-in-life mental state, but it is also one of his greatest accomplishments.
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