9 Best Romance Books Of All Time Update 05/2022


It’s easy to see why romance is such a popular genre among readers all across the world. A good love tale contains drama, intrigue, jokes, and, if you’re lucky, a little heat; and the best romance novels may feel like falling in love — intimate and personal, yet huge and life-changing all at the same time.

The Classics

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre’s love tale may be ‘poor, inconspicuous, plain, and tiny,’ but it is anything but. Jane Eyre’s ongoing appeal is evidence to the intensity of its primary romance, which is one of the genre’s authoritative masterpieces. Jane, an impoverished young orphan, arrives at the mysterious Mr Rochester’s mansion in search of work, but she discovers considerably more than she bargained for. Jane, naive and unsure, is captivated to her enigmatic boss, but will the twisted mysteries that lie at the core of Thornfield Hall jeopardize their developing romance? The headstrong, rebellious, yet entirely normal Jane is a subversive breath of fresh air — or should we say Eyre? — written at a period when most romance heroines were preternaturally lovely.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina is one of the longest books on this list, with 800+ pages and a vast epic that takes readers across countries in the sake of love. Those who continue with this behemoth of a novel, however, will be rewarded handsomely. Tolstoy explores the narrative of an adulterous affair and its ramifications in Imperial Russian society in what is often regarded as the best romantic novel of all time (and, we believe, one of the best books to read in a lifetime). As we see their connection, and Anna herself, deteriorate, joy gives way to paranoia, loneliness, and regret when Anna goes away with the gorgeous Count Vronsky. Anna Karenina is a brilliantly drawn depiction of both the agonies and ecstasies of love that is as much a cautionary tale as it is a romance book.

Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah’s Book Club) by Gabriel Garcia Márquez

Florentino Ariza has been waiting for his true love to return for 50 years. That’s not to say he’s been bored: he’s had 622 love affairs, all of which he meticulously records in his notebooks. When the man who married his childhood sweetheart dies, a now elderly Florentino seizes the opportunity to confess his love once more, despite his dalliances and the passage of decades. Love in the Time of Cholera is a stunning investigation of commitment and reunions, as well as the excessive expectations we place on people we love. It doesn’t just ask if the hero will get the lady – it asks if he should. The Nobel Prize for Literature isn’t given to just anyone, so we know we’re in good hands with Gabriel Garcia Márquez.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Margaret, a nineteen-year-old girl whose life is turned upside down when her family relocates from a tranquil country to Darkshire, a harsh and restless industrial town in the north of England, is the protagonist of this classic fish-out-of-water story. Margaret discovers a new vocation in advocating for the poor and downtrodden, but it puts her in direct conflict with John Thornton, the imposing mill owner. Will they be able to find common ground, or will miscommunication keep them at odds? North and South is not just a beautiful romance, but it also has a lot to say about politics, gender, and religion, making it a must-read for history fans!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It’s a universal truth that any list of the best romance novels must include at least one Jane Austen title (we’ve gone for three!). And Pride and Prejudice is by far the most famous narrative by the English comedian. It’s an age-old story: boy meets girl; boy and girl bicker and profess their hatred for one another; boy and girl eventually realize that there is more to one another than meets the eye — but is it too late? Pride and Prejudice is one of the oldest and finest examples of the thin line between love and hatred. It may now be a rom-com trope, but it is one of the oldest and greatest examples of the thin line between love and hate. The romance between Elizabeth and Darcy is both honest and unexpected, and Austen’s characters are so well-developed and believable that you’ll find yourself gasping, cringing, and crying along with them.

Emma by Jane Austen

Austen famously described the ideal subject for a novel in a letter: “Three or four households in a country village,” and Emma matches the requirements perfectly. Emma Woodhouse is the glue that keeps these families together (and our cherished heroine). She’s cunning, wealthy, gorgeous, and completely delusional, and she’s eager to play with the hearts of her neighbors while ignoring the fact that she doesn’t need to find a husband herself. The novel bends storytelling via our protagonist’s distorting lens, resulting in a brilliant coming-of-age story and a work of hilarious brilliance. Her characters are always hilarious, no matter who plays them or what adaption they’re in!

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility is the third and final installment in our dedication to romance titan Jane Austen. It’s a tale of lies, secrets, and seduction. It brilliantly shows a world of money and position, gossip and innuendo, where rigid social convention dictates the instincts of the heart, following two sisters — one wild and impetuous, the other serene and sensible. Will these two young women learn to strike a balance between wearing your heart on your sleeve and concealing your genuine sentiments via their parallel experiences of love and heartbreak?

Maurice by E.M. Forster

This profoundly intimate novel, written by Forster in 1914, tells the bold and passionate story of a young man’s sexual awakening at a time when gay relationships were not only stigmatized, but also outlawed. Maurice, which had been sitting in a drawer for fifty-seven years before being released after the author’s death, was hailed as a strong, emotional, and wonderfully written love story. It follows the adventures of a privileged yet modest young man as he struggles with unrequited love, heartbreak, and social politics on his path to self-discovery. Look no farther if you’re looking for great LGBT books on this list!

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

“Donuts to donuts, you’ve seen the movie,” Goldman says in the introduction. You’ve missed a trick if you haven’t read the book that inspired the cult hit. There’s nothing fluffy about The Princess Bride, which is a satirical fairy tale, a biting satire, and a rocket-powered fantasy all masterfully disguised as a love story. In reality, despite the fact that the story of Buttercup and Prince Humperdink is full of laughs, this novel may also be classified as a suspense thriller. So, if you’re frightened, you might want to stick to children’s fairy tales.

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