The 20 Most Romantic Novels You Can Read Together

💑 Romancing Your Sweetie for Valentine's Day (and All Year Long!)

By Haley Somolinos, Douglas County Libraries January 26, 2016

One of the most romantic things my husband and I do is read books aloud together. Although it is certainly slower than reading alone, enjoying a captivating story simultaneously is an experience we both treasure.

We've read the entire Harry Potter, Divergent, Hunger Games, and Twilight series, as well as Cheaper by the Dozen, a variety of poetry (Edgar Allan Poe is quite lyrical when read aloud), and several other YA fiction novels.

Literature is filled with great love stories. Douglas County Libraries has compiled a list of our favorites ranging from tear-jerkers to heart-melters and includes classics to contemporaries. So grab the box of tissues and a warm cup of tea (or hot toddy), and curl up with these ageless classics, with or without your partner.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This romantic comedy still delights even 202 years after it was published. The love story of Elizabeth and Darcy shows how people can overcome their biases in order to end up with each other.

Most romantic quote: "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Take one part historical fiction, add a dash of science fiction, and mix with adventure and fantasy, and you get the one-of-a-kind story of Outlander. However, it wouldn't work without the epic love story between Jamie and Claire.

Most romantic quote: "'Ye werena the first lass I kissed,' he said softly. 'But I swear you'll be the last.'"

Princess Bride by William Goldman
You’re probably familiar with the movie, but you should read the book — it's even better. It's full of adventure, witty lines, and romance.

Most romantic quote: "I've been saying it so long to you, you just wouldn’t listen. Every time you said 'Farm Boy do this' you thought I was answering 'As you wish' but that's only because you were hearing wrong. 'I love you' was what it was, but you never heard."

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
An obsessive love between a fledgling writer and a woman in an unfulfilling marriage, whose affair ends rather suddenly. It is the most beautiful and heartbreaking writing.

Most romantic quote: "I had to touch you with my hands, I had to taste you with my tongue; one can’t love and do nothing."

One Day by David Nicholls
Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. The novel visits their lives and their friendship on July 15 in successive years. It will leave you speechless.

Most romantic quote: "Whatever happens tomorrow, we had today; and I'll always remember it."

Atonement by Ian McEwan
This epic British family saga novel sets in three time periods: 1935, World War II, and present-day England. It covers love and war to guilt and forgiveness. It is a rich, old-fashioned love story.

Most romantic quote: "I've never had a moment's doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life."

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Two misfits = one extraordinary love. A high school love story that will make you remember your first love. You will feel an entire range of emotions reading this book.

Most romantic quote: "I want everyone to meet you. You're my favorite person of all time."

Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A classic story of the Jazz Age. It is a tragic story of lost love, and being in love with the dream more than reality.

Most romantic quote: "So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete."

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneggar
An unconventional love story between Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventurous librarian who has Chrono-Displacement Disorder. Their relationship is punctuated by Henry’s disappearances when he travels back in time — sometimes even visiting a younger Clare.

Most romantic quote: "I won't ever leave you, even though you're always leaving me."

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
One of the greatest stories of doomed love ever written. Generations of readers have been enraptured by the unhappily married Anna Karenina and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.

Most romantic quote: "He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking."

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
A modern re-imagining of A Midsummer Night's Dream that explores extraordinary love between ordinary people.

Most romantic quote: "Every relationship has at least one really good day. What I mean is, no matter how sour things go, there's always that day. That day is always in your possession. That's the day you remember. You get old and you think: Well, at least I had that day."

The Notebook by Nicholas Spark
An ageless tale that will make you believe in true love. Set on the North Carolina coast, it is the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner who recently returned from World War II. While he is restoring a plantation home, he is haunted by images of a beautiful girl he met more than a decade earlier.

Most romantic quote: "So it's not gonna be easy. It's going to be really hard; we're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, every day. You and me ... every day."

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Oprah called it "one of the greatest love stories." It will transport you to another place and ponder the difference between true love and first love.

Most romantic quote: "To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else's heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter."

The Romantics by Galt Niderhoffer
It takes place at a wedding of friends where the maid of honor can't stop thinking about her tangled relationship with the groom, her former boyfriend. It is a bitter-sweet page-turner.

Most romantic quote: "The sound of his voice was an overwhelming relief, like remembering the name of a beloved song or returning to a childhood haunt to find it totally unchanged. Did he not feel the same swell of relief? Or was he just better at hiding it?"

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The passionate Gothic story of the intense love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff.

Most romantic quote: "He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
A Gothic masterpiece about a governess (Jane) who falls in love with the master of the house, Mr. Rochester. As her feelings for Rochester develop, Jane gradually uncovers Thornfield Hall's terrible secret, forcing her to make a choice.

Most romantic quote: "I have for the first time found what I can truly love — I have found you. You are my sympathy, my better self, my good angel. I am bound to you with a strong attachment."

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
It features the laugh-out-loud antics of single Bridget Jones on her quest for self-improvement. Her love interests are Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy, the latter of whom is inspired by another love interest on our list, Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice.

Most romantic quote: "I like you very much. Just as you are."

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
One of the greatest romances of the past decade that explores the funny, thrilling, tragic parts of being alive and in love.

Most romantic quote: "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout in 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."

Love Story by Erich Segal
An epic love story from the 70s between Harvard law student Oliver Barrett IV and Radcliffe music student Jenny Cavilleri. They are opposites in nearly every way but fall in love. Keep the tissues nearby for this one.

Most romantic quote: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

Reprinted with permission from the Douglas County Libraries blog. The DCL blog augments the collections, services, and programs offered at Douglas County Libraries. It's the perfect resource for parents to find book recommendations for the kids, as well as finding something for themselves.