Free Press Journal

Love, Actually

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Book nerds come celebrate Valentine’s Day with Manasi Y Mastakar as she takes you on a journey called love.

I am sucker for romance novel and I have no hesitation in admitting to it. Give me anything that has a love story and I will devour it like I devour dark chocolate. I, in fact, fail to understand why some litterateurs have such scorn for romance novels. I have come across this breed on several occasions who have looked down and considered romance readers to be unintelligent or lack “taste” in reading. Actually I feel it’s quite the opposite. Take for example books like the classic Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre where every character has such depth or contradictions (Wuthering Heights for example). Keeping with the Valentine’s Day celebration happening today, here are a few books to get you in the romantic mood.

If you are a classic fan, then these are the books that must be on your list (if you haven’t read them already): Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Atonement by Ian MacEwan.


Talk of today and the first book that comes to my mind is the Fifty Shades trilogy (add the recently released Grey to it). If you see beyond the ohs and ahs in the book, there lies a sweet love story of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele: The super rich Christian (he makes our very own Amabnis and Tatas look lame with the kind of wealth he has) and the innocent Ana, two contrasting characters falling in love over the course of the books. Ana’s love for Christian, makes him overcome his dark, sadistic side. Although not very well written, but it’s a must on romantic’s list.

One Day by David Nicholls is another heart-wrenching tale of love and loss. The story traces the lives of Emma and Dexter over 20 years through one day: July 15. The characters meet every year on that particular day and give the readers a glimpse in to their lives as it is on July 15. You won’t be the same after reading this book. Advice: keep tissues handy.

The Time Traveller’s Wife is yet another classic tale of love. It revolves around Henry a librarian and his artist wife Clare. Henry uncontrolled time travel takes the reader with him into his past and present, while Clare remains stranded on several occasion holding on to the love for her husband, hoping for him to return. The two are caught in an impossible love trap surviving all the while to meet a tragic end.

How can one speak about romance without mentioning Nicholas sparks, the king of romance novels? And the list is so long that it is difficult to choose a best among so many of them. But to name some of his celebrated novels would be A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Message in a Bottle, The Last Song and Safe Heaven. Every novel of Sparks is equal to love and loss. So expect two extremes: a lot of romance and a lot of heartbreak – he doesn’t believe the in-between road.

If Nicholas Sparks is the king of romance novels, then Nora Roberts is the queen. And like Sparks, Roberts’ repertoire is quite huge with more than a 100 romance books to her credit. The better ones from Roberts are the trilogies or series like the Bride Quartet, The MacGregors, Inn Boonsboro or the Irish Legacy. But the ones I find better are the singles which have a mix of romance and suspense and she is quite good at bringing at adding twists to her stories. Her books sometimes seem kind of similar in plot: boy meets girls, then there’s a killer, they fall in love amidst the chaos while chasing after the killer who usually the most unsuspected of the lot. To get started with Roberts, some of my favourites are Carolina Moon, The Villa, The Divine Evil, True Betrayals, Genuine Lies, Tribute and River’s End.  If you are already a Nora Roberts fan, then look out for her upcoming book The Obsession which is up for pre-order on Amazon and will be available in India from April 14.

Cecelia Ahern’s debut novel P.S Love You is hard to miss if you are a true romance novel reader. Holly and Gerry are childhood sweethearts. They had always known they are meant to be together, and together they be. Until one day, Gerry loses his battle with cancer, leaving Holly alone. But Gerry never really leaves her alone, he has left her 11 letters, each letter is delivered to her every month, which help her move forward in life and fall in love again as encouraged by Gerry.

From the Young Adult section, how can one forget the celebrated novel which touched many hearts – The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. It is a story of a teenage girl, Hazel, who is suffering from cancer. She meets Augustus while attending a support group for young cancer patients and that’s when her life changes. Augustus brings a ray of hope in Hazel’s life. John is such a master story teller that you get pulled in the lives of the characters and feel their love of each other and cry with them too.

Though not critically acclaimed, the Twilight Saga is yet another book that brings to the fore an unconventional love story between a human and a vampire. It had become quite a rage when he came out 2005. Bella’s unconditional love for the vampire Edward warms up your heart from the word go. In fact, E L James’ Fifty Shades Trilogy is inspired by Edward and Bella (of course there’s no sex and sadism in Twilight, unlike it is in Fifty Shades).

Back home in India, we have bestselling writers like Ravinder Singh with books like Can Love Happen Twice, I Too had a love story; Durjoy Datta with Our Impossible Love, World’s Best Boyfriend; Preeti Shenoy’s The One You Cannot Have; Chetan Bhagat’s 2 States and Half Girlfriend.

These are just a few names in the vast sea called Romance genre. And it is practically impossible to have all of them in here.