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Romantic Reads

-by Editor

Love is in the air, and just in case you need some lovey-dovey inspiration, check out the most romantic books of all time. If you haven't read them, you're missing out! Read on for a short description of the plot. From a selection of popular fiction to classic literature, here are the best romantic reads of the century.

1. LOVE STORY by Erich Segal

This romance between a Harvard and Radcliffe student is probably one of the best love stories ever told. Oliver, the 'preppy' from the highly affluent and influential Barrett family, falls in love with Jenny, a baker's daughter. They get married, much to the chagrin of his parents, and he walks out on an empire to start life anew, only to have it come crashing down before his eyes. And there's nothing he could do about it.

2. OLIVER'S STORY by Erich Segal

A sequel to Love Story, Oliver Barrett finds a new love in the charming, affable Sarah, while jogging in Central Park. Is he able to make a go of this relationship? The stirring romantic novel sweeps from New Yorks fashionable East Side to a shattering moment of truth in Hong Kong. This is the spellbinding story of one young man's journey out of sadness and into a quest for love.

3. THE THORN BIRDS by Colleen McCullough

Father Ralph, a young priest, is good friends with one of the richest woman in all Australia, Mary Carson. She sends for her brother Paddy to bring his family of four sons and a daughter, Maggie, to come to live and work for her. Ralph and Maggie become close and as Maggie grows into a beautiful young woman, she falls in love with Ralph, who loves her in return, but doesn't requite her love as he is pursuing his ambition. A later marriage with an abusive husband and an illicit love affair leaves Maggie with two children. She returns home to her estranged mother and once again meets Ralph. This enchanting read was also made into a motion picture.

4. GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell�

Scarlett O'Hara, the spirited but spoiled, manipulative daughter of an Irish immigrant plantation owner, is secretly in love with Ashley Wilkes, engaged to the gentle Melanie. When Scarlett confesses her love to Ashley, he admits his feelings for her but notes that Melanie will make a better wife. Immediately after this meeting, Scarlett has her first encounter with the irrepressible and cynical Rhett Butler, who goes on to fall in love with her. They are two headstrong individuals who simultaneously repel and attract one another. The question is how long will it take for her to recognize the depth of her feelings. The story unfolds against the backdrop of slavery, war and reconstruction. It is a grand tale of love and loss in the midst of America's bitter Civil War. There's sadness, humor, rebellion and of course, plenty of romance.

5. LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dr. Juvenal Urbino, a wealthy, respected doctor, opens the story when he learns of a friend's death. Garcia Marquez tells about the trials of growing old, and of Dr. Urbino's wife, the haughty and beautiful Fermina Daza. Lines like Only God knows how much I loved you sums up their entire relationship. They shared a love that was so understood and unquestioned that they seldom told each other just how much they meant to one another. It is eventually revealed that the novel is not about the life of Dr. Juvenal Urbino (directly) but rather about the life of the captivating Fermina Daza and her former love, Florentino Ariza. Florentino Ariza continues to haunt Fermina Daza throughout the novel. His character is so intense and passionate that when he writes a love letter to Fermina Daza, it is over a hundred pages long. The character of Fermina Daza is also expertly developed. She makes sudden changes in her life, and while they are very surprising, they correspond perfectly with her haughty and indecisive personality. Marquez is a passionate writer and this passion is felt strongly throughout Love in the Time of Cholera.


Jane Austen's classic novel is about the Bennett sisters and their efforts to garner economic security, for which each must procure a suitable husband. The title refers to the spirited and volatile Elizabeth, who rejects an offer of marriage from heir Darcy, whose seeming arrogance and pride blind her to his noble qualities. Austen felt keenly the fragility of the circumstance. This is what makes the scene of Darcy's first proposal so potent: Elizabeth will never experience again so fine an emotional surge as she does when she spurns him. Parallel plots involve quiet sister Jane's love for stolid Charles Bingley and the youngest, frivolous sister Lydia's elopement with one of Elizabeth's erstwhile suitors.

7. ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare

It doesn't take an Oxford educated scholar to tell you that Shakespeare was one of the greatest writers of all time. It's probably even less of a stretch to say that Romeo and Juliet is not only the greatest love story of all time, but one of the greatest tragedies ever written. The enmity between the Capulet and Montague houses, the star crossed lovers and the tragic ending now forms the basis of many plots.

8. A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE by Barbara Taylor Bradford�

From New York Times best selling author Barbara Taylor Bradford comes a triumphant novel of an unforgettable woman. Determined to rise above all that she has ever known, a young and impoverished Emma Harte embarks on a journey of survival that leads to unimaginable achievement. The iron-willed Emma parlays a small shop into the world's greatest department store and an international business empire. Married twice but in love with the one man she can never marry, personal happiness eludes her. Harte Enterprises, the realisation of her grand dreams, is her all: her heart, her soul, her life. When those closest to her threaten to destroy her empire through their greed and envy, Emma brilliantly outwits her enemies. She wreaks her devastating revenge on those who would betray her in a way only she knows how. Drawing us into the mesmerizing life of a remarkable woman who dared to seize a dream and was willing to pay any price to make it come true, Barbara Taylor Bradford's deeply involving novel is a celebration of an indomitable spirit.


Howard Roark, an incredible architect who will not relinquish his principles for the sake of money, power or fame, is not influenced by the norms of society. His foil, Peter Keating, is just the opposite. He does what is wanted and expected of him and is miserable because of it. Both are in love with Dominique. The book comes down to the final battle between man and society--a battle of morals, ideals, and heart. Quotes like To say, 'I love you,' one must first know how to say the 'I,' epitomize the principles of Ayn Rand's philosophy.

10. THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY by Robert James Waller

Francesca Johnson, sitting on her porch minding her own business while her family was out of town, suddenly finds her world turned upside down by a stranger. Robert Kincaid, a photographer, wandered up to her asking for directions, and things were never the same. The passionate encounter lasted for just a few days, but the love was powerful enough to last a lifetime. This book shows what it is to love and be loved so intensely, that everything changes.

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