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The Stylus

Don’t got love? You still got books. 

Photo credit: Google open source

Aren’t you excited for a Hallmark manufactured holiday with a dubious beginning in Roman orgies? Well, regardless of your answer, Valentine’s Day marks the beginning of romance fervor (no matter how much we try to ignore it). To satisfy that craving, I have put together a list of 10 swoon worthy novels that no one needs to know you are reading to celebrate Feb. 14 and the loveliness of falling in love. With perfect people on a page, of course, that will not actually break your heart.  

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen (1813) 

It would be disingenuous of me to not include Mr. Darcy in all his glory. He’s the epitome of romance, after all. Besides his helpless staring problem when it comes to a certain Miss Elizabeth Bennett, this novel is filled with beautiful declarations of passion and, well, lots of scenery. In all seriousness, this is a classic love story that will never get old for true romantics.  

“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott (1868) 

Sisters are the best wingmen. The four March girls get into heaps of trouble as they become young women—but all with good intentions. While family is at the heart of this story, it only serves to make us feel even more connected when our heroines fall in love… and when they upset their unrequited lovers. Be prepared to alternatively laugh and cry. 

“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2007) 

Set in post-World War II on a quaint English island, this novel is written entirely in an epistolary format. I mean letters, can you get any more luscious? Ignore the fact that cellphones hadn’t been invented yet so I can make my point. This story follows Juliet Ashton, a successful author in London. She’s engaged to a man she does not love when she receives a letter from a pig farmer, Dawsey Adams, about a book with her name in it. The two book lovers strike up an intimate correspondence and…do I feel a spark? You’ll have to read to find out.  

“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2012) 

This is a story about two boys grappling with the fact that they are friendless (until they meet, of course). One of them doesn’t know how to swim. The other talks too damn much. Trying to discover what it means to be a man, Aristotle and Dante make philosophy less the art of crazy people and more the art of love. Will these childhood playmates ever become something more to each other? 

“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell (2012) 

“Eleanor & Park” hurts to read, but it’s also achingly romantic. In fact, it is probably the best contemporary high school love story I’ve ever come across. Eleanor is the bravest character I’ve met, and Park is the kind of knight that knows when to be the sidekick. If you’re only considering reading one of these books, choose this one. Doubly so if you need to sob alongside a fictional person that won’t see your snot. 

“Girl on a Wire” by Gwenda Bond (2014) 

A ropewalker with a parasol meets a trapeze artist at the Cirque American, but, get this, their families have been feuding almost as long as the circus has existed. If there is anything true about the world of incredible feats, it is that the Flying Garcias hate the Amazing Maronis and vice versa. But a forbidden romance between an ambitious ballerina and a headstrong Romeo will challenge them to confront what really happened all those years ago. Do you hear the sizzle? That’s an actual fire. 

“The Wrath & the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh (2015) 

Disclaimer: this is purely an indulgence. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is lyrical and the worldbuilding is more than decent for a romance series. However, this is actual tooth rotting fluff. You have been warned. It starts with Shahrzad trying to murder her future husband for killing her best friend, but it gets better! I promise, he’s not all that bad. After killing maybe 46 or 47 other innocent people for various sacrificial reasons—he still has a good heart. Though, it sucks to explain on your dating profile that you’re haunted by evil ghosts and cursed by warlocks.  

“Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon (2015) 

I think we all hit that point in quarantine when we were so people-starved that waving to the mailman from the window was the highlight of our day. Just me? Okay… well, anyway, this is a story about a girl who grew up in a bubble (not literal, promise) and has never once stepped outside in her life. The only person within hugging distance is her mother. But then a cute boy moves in next door, and he seems to be all too intent on breaking her out of jail. If you like rebellious vacations on the west coast, then this is the perfect read for you.  

“The Star-Touched Queen” by Roshani Chokshi (2016) 

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to marry a version of Hades? I’m hoping the answer is no, but if you’ve found yourself fantasizing about a life with the king of the underworld, then this is a healthier spin on that just for you. Ostracized because of her resemblance to the night sky, Maya is cursed with the horoscope of being wedded to death and destruction. Hot future, I know, but don’t worry. Maya is in charge of her own fate, and when she meets a mysterious stranger, she realizes that the world is full of more stories than she imagined (and, maybe, that she is deadlier than any of her potential suitors).  

“Picture Us In The Light” by Kelly Loy Gilbert (2018) 

Oh my gosh, it’s a book about an artist and his love interest is a guy… who has a girlfriend. Tough break, buddies. Fear not, there’s more to the story! Truly, this romance is breathtakingly earnest. Danny is at a close-knit school, and the student president is very easy on his eyes. Except, he’s also Danny’s best friend and, presumably, very into non-Danny’s. When family circumstances force him to relocate, however, will he finally confess how he really feels? Be aware: awkward fails and sweet conversations are very frequent throughout.  

I hope you enjoy these either in secret or out loud. Whatever you do, please don’t sue me if you get addicted to reading or don’t like my book choices. Let the romancing commence! 

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