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10 Must Read Romances for Valentine’s Day

I like to consider myself a romance aficionado. I’ve read everything from YA, literary fiction with a romantic focus, downright romance (I’m talking illustrated cover, you get it) to the classics. So if you have no set plans for Valentine’s Day or if you just want to get into the lovey-dovey mood, allow me to impart my wisdom. Here are 10 romances or novels that contain at least some swoon-worthy romance. 

anything by jane austen

Kicking it off with the woman who invented romance (don’t quote me on that) is Miss Jane Austen. If you’re anything like me, you prefer romance novels in which romance takes a bit of a backseat. That’s not to say that Jane Austen’s books weren’t packed with beautiful lines like “If I loved you less I might be able to talk about it more,” but honestly she didn’t sacrifice world-building at all. 

Though I’m sure any Austen novel is sure to get you into the Valentine’s Day spirit. I have to recommend my personal favorite, Emma. Spoiled but well-intentioned, clever but overly indulged, Emma considers herself the perfect matchmaker. As she attempts to set her low-class friend, Harriet, up with men of higher society, Austen pulls you into the world of regency. Seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough, and once you’ve read it, you can check out Emma (2020). 

love, comment, subscribe by cathy yardley

Maybe you’re a fan of modern-day romance, and you’re looking for something a little more 21st century. Perhaps you grew up in the world of youtube and influencers (think 2012 Michelle Phan era). If that’s you, then Love, Comment, Subscribe is a must-read. When former high school frenemies turned famous YouTubers, Tobin Bui and Lily Wang, are forced to collaborate, things couldn’t look worse. He’s loud and messy, she’s diligent and organized. Not to mention they’re forced to re-examine high school, their feelings, and the future. If you’re a fan of the friends-to-lovers trope or just generally into nostalgia, you should check this out. 

Normal people by sally rooney

being said, it’s got some of the most beautifully distinct prose that I’ve read in recent years. Painfully stripped down and laid bare, we follow Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron as they go from high school to college to post-grad all the while navigating their complex relationship. Rooney shows what love, insecurities, and miscommunication look like in this day and age. 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han 

Valentine’s Day because part of what’s so magical about this book is the level of nostalgia it brings me whenever I re-read it. Lara Jean is a romantic, starry-eyed high schooler living in her own little world. She writes letters to boys with no intention of sending them, and she’s fine with that. But one day, when all the letters mysteriously get out, she finds herself in a fake dating scheme with Peter Kavinsky, the much cooler jock stereotype. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is just an utterly charming book that will have you wanting to tie ribbons in your hair, bake cookies, and send out a slew of love letters. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When former Hollywood starlet Evelyn Hugo decides she’s going to release a tell-all book, she mysteriously and seemingly without a reason asks Monique Grant, an aspiring reporter, to tell her story. Not only do we watch Evelyn’s rise to fame unfold which is in and of itself a glamorous trip through the golden age, but we also learn more about Monique and why Evelyn would want her, an unknown journalist, to write her coveted story. This book was probably one of the most enjoyable books I read in 2021. So if you’re in a reading slump and in the mood for a bit of entertainment, check it out. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 

Here’s another modern classic, even a cultural reset. Cath is the ultimate fangirl. Growing up, she and her twin, Wren, were obsessed with fictional character Simon Snow. He’s been her childhood and, frankly, her everything. Then she goes off to college, and her whole world flips upside-down as Wren tells her they shouldn’t be roommates. Now Cath is freefalling on her own and trying to fit in while still clinging to her childhood love of Simon Snow and fiction. On her own and left to find herself in college, can Cath make it in college and find her place? This book not only features one of the sweetest love stories, but it’s also just a shot of pure nostalgia. In fact, as I write this, I think I’m due to re-read it once more.  

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson 

Emily is Sloane’s sidekick, and she’s comfortable that way, staying out of the spotlight. But when Sloane mysteriously leaves, Emily feels rudderless. Soon she discovers that Sloane has left her a long bucket list of things to do, and in completing the whole list, Emily can find her. What transpires is a summer adventure as Emily finally challenges herself, coming out of her shell and meeting new people. This perfectly breezy and action-packed romance/coming of age novel is a perfect read, especially if you’re dreaming of long summer nights this winter. 

Less by Andrew Sean Greer 

This one is airy and sweet. Arthur Less is a failure. He’s lost his boyfriend, his youth, and his acclaim (or what little he even had to begin with). With his ex’s wedding coming up, he decides to throw caution to the wind and take a trip around the world. As he jet sets from France to Germany to India and everywhere in between, he’s forced to consider his life as he is soon to hit fifty. This book, while not necessarily a classic romance novel, is just as good. This is for anyone who has wanderlust and dreams of traveling. 

Writers and Lovers by Lily King 

Casey Peabody is aimless. With no career, no relationship, and no real family left, she clings to the hope of being a writer, an artist. She sees the world moving around her, leaving her behind as her friends who were once dreamers to settle for careers and stability. As she attempts to finish her first novel, we see her struggle with grief, growth, and heartbreak. Lily King masterfully balances all these themes while presenting two blossoming relationships: one with a seasoned and acclaimed writer and another with a fellow artistic dreamer. In the end, this book, though filled with romantic moments, is about navigating adulthood and growing up. 

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton 

Okay, so I might be biased on this one because it’s my Valentine’s 2022 book. If you don’t know Dolly Alderton, la podcast miniseries about Sex and the City (the podcast is called Sentimental Garbage and the series is called Sentimental in the City if you’re curious). TLDR this book is a memoir about everything from love to careers and friendship. And I’m not that far into it, but Alderton’s prose and voice are everything. 

Happy Valentine’s Day (and happy reading), however you choose to spend it.

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Ruby Zeidman

Columbia Barnard '24

Ruby is a sophomore at Barnard College. Although she's currently undeclared, she loves to write and is an avid reader. She enjoys running, spending too much on iced coffee, and exploring NYC.
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