Top Five Love Stories (In The Past Twenty Years)

Ta-Da! I’m back!

I haven’t really able to write recently for a myriad of reasons, but mostly the past couple months have just been hard. I don’t want to lie to you guys and tell you that life is great 100% of the time, because that’s not how life works. BUT life is filled with little bits of extreme happiness and love. And fortunately I have love from my family and my significant other to help me through.

It’s exactly that love that I want to discuss today, because on Monday the 16th it will be mine and my boyfriend’s anniversary (whoopie!!! part-ayyy!) and I’m psyched! I love our anniversaries, it reminds me of when my life really began to feel complete (okay okay, I’m sorry I’m sappy!)

Nonetheless, the past couple days I felt an overwhelming feeling of love not only from my boyfriend but from my family as well. And because of that, I began thinking about the books that I’ve read that have stuck with me as great love stories, or stories of triumph in situations because love was prevalent. Some of my favorite love stories actually don’t have that much romantic, intimate love in them. But I remember the following books as incredibly well written and often struck me as the best love stories of all time. Or at least of the past 20 years.

These aren’t necessarily in any particular order, and this is just my opinion – but let’s be honest, my opinion is always right. So here we go:

1.  Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

This is a book that I love. I just absolutely adore this book. In no way is it a traditional love story, in no way is it a happy story – but it’s the story of a girl with a dream so big and a heart filled with so much love for one person that she is willing to do anything to make it a reality. Now I know that doesn’t sound very romantic, but had you been thrust into a Geisha lifestyle at the age of  nine-years-old and sold for your beauty, you would probably think this story was the most romantic thing you’d ever heard.

2.  The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

This is an easy one, but I would be remiss if I didn’t add it to my list. This novel, with its beautiful writing and striking humor coupled with an incredibly believable and heartbreaking story, has made me cry more than any other novel I have ever read. And this is coming from a girl who has dealt with the deaths of Dobby, Fred Weasley and Remus Lupin all in one book (madness!!!!) But nonetheless, Green writes a novel from the point of view of a girl dying of a disease. Going to support groups for it, she winds up meeting a boy who also has a disease, but not one he’s dying from. The plot thickens from there, but this book was written with grace, amazing humor, and such unpredictability that I was on the edge of my seat (crying) the entire time.

3. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

Alright, this one I’m honestly a little embarrassed to put on the list, but I cried so much during this book that I had to put it on here. This book, while a love story, is a true story about a woman finding herself and loving who she is. It’s a struggle between living a life she was just comfortable in and a life that has purpose. In this case, her life of purpose includes meditation, lots of pasta and a man she fell in love with. This one struck me as less of a book about the love between two people but rather a book about the love of oneself. The idea that you can live your life, and you can do it your way. The idea of looking at your body in a mirror and saying, “hey, if someone doesn’t like it, then they don’t need to see it. And also, screw them!” and I really like that.

4. All of the Harry Potter Books – JK Rowling

I really don’t need to go into detail on this one, because anyone who has read the books will understand why this is on my list. Despite the romantic relationship stories in this series, the most prevalent, and most important relationship is the friendship and kinship between Harry, Hermione, and Ron/The rest of the Weasleys. If I go into too much detail I’ll start crying over here, so instead I’ll just leave it at this: the HP books have given me a lesson in all the different types of love someone is capable of having. From the smallest bit of kindness to a huge show of affection: love is everywhere.

5. The Valley of Amazement – Amy Tan

My girl! Amy Tan is the shit. I’m in love with all of the books she’s every written, and honestly I wanted to put this book and The Bonesetter’s Daughter on this list, but TBD was less about love and more about over coming obstacles (also I didn’t want to overcrowd you with Amy Tan – but please read that book because it’s fantastic!) Anyway, this novel is incredible. It’s about a woman’s journey as half-Chinese, half-American living in China as a courtesan. Honestly this book has a similar feel that Memoirs of a Geisha has but without the feeling of the main character being a slave and unable to do anything about her own life. This book has so many different moving parts to it, but the thing you need to know is that when this book had loving moments in it, it had heart warming, heart breaking, all consuming, vulnerable, tears rolling down your eyes moments. Read this!

So that’s the last of it. I’m sure if I wracked my brain a little more I’d be able to give you some other books, but for now here are the top five books that center around love that are my personal favorites.

If you have other books that you think ought to be on the list, let me know in the comments or e-mail me at rachel@booksandcleverness.com

The next time you hear from me will be after my anniversary, which means that the next time you hear from me I will have gained twenty pounds from all the pasta I’m going to eat at our favorite Italian restaurant. YESSS! Ciao!

Rachel

Advertisements

An Open Letter to John Green

Before I begin, I’d like to express that I’ll be back to do normal posts very soon. This is a fluke….or is it? You decide. Until next time, friends.

Dear John Green,

I hope you had a pleasant and chocolate filled Easter! I’m currently looking at my Easter basket and am eyeing the chocolate duck. I’ve eaten it’s head so far (sorry duck) but all I’m thinking is, “damn, I want to eat the rest.” And honestly, I’m so torn apart right now that I just might.

Why am I so unhappy, you may ask? Because I just finished reading your critically acclaimed The Fault In Our Stars about thirty minutes ago. Normally I would turn this post into a Book vs Movie post, but I genuinely think it might deserve two posts – one letter to you and one book vs movie – just simply based on the fact that my little aching heart can’t watch the movie yet. I need time to process. To heal.

But I will give you my book review. So I’ll go ahead and give you my rating: 5 stars. No, 15 stars. This was the fault in our stars you were speaking of, Green: the fault in our star rating system because there’s no star high enough to accurately assess this novel. Wonderful.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time, but based simply on the fact that everyone was reading the book, and everyone was loving the movie, I didn’t read it or see the movie. I didn’t want to be peer pressured into reading a book by some dude I didn’t know when I could be reading a book by Amy Tan. That was until I read Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle and yourself. I loved it. I loved it so much, and I loved your part of the story so much, that TFIOS quickly moved up my “to-read” list.

Having promised myself that I wouldn’t keep reading science fiction and fantasy novels exclusively, I decided it was time to read the book. You start the novel with a bang – cancer. You have this writing style that is so conversational, but at the same time you feel like you’re getting smarter just reading it. It’s so intelligent, and you use that intelligence to perfectly express exactly what the character is feeling in a way that a real person would feel. I can’t get over the magic of this novel.

Side note to my blog family: In case you don’t know what the premise of the novel is about, here’s a brief back cover summary: A cancer ridden Hazel is depressed and stays at her house all day watching reality TV shows. Her mom then sends her to make some friends at a cancer support group in their local church. She meets a cancer survivor named Augustus, and she starts thinking differently.

As a sarcastic and introverted person who absolutely loves reality TV (don’t judge me) I absolutely loved Hazel. I thought she was a brilliant character with a beautiful heart, and realistic expectations – and maybe a defeatist attitude. Augustus, the everlasting love interest, was portrayed as this funny, optimistic, romantic teenage boy who just wanted the girl to love him, but was really so much more than that.

And that is why I’m writing this open letter to you. As a habitual reader – clean and sober 30 minutes – I usually get way too invested in my books. They’re the great love of my life (along with my boyfriend – Hi, Anthony!) so I often put my whole mind and soul into a book – I become defenseless to these characters and allow the author to toy with my emotions for several hundred pages. There is usually an expectation, though. That, yes, I allow the author to invade my psyche with the understanding that at the end of the book I may be sad, but I won’t feel devastated.

You have crossed that boundary, sir. It has happened before, but I’m putting this on the top five list. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not necessarily that the ending was an all consuming devastation of a single event, but rather that the entire novel was devastating. It was one thing after another, and even with a fairly happy ending, you still know that more goes on when the book is finished. Much like Hazel and her obsession with Peter van Houten’s novel in the book, I just want to know what happens when the book is over. It’s only now that I realize how much of a written genius you are to have the presence of mind to create a book so devastating but so familiar and friendly, only to have it end the way you ended it, much like van Houten’s book.

Well, I feel as though I’ve berated you enough, good sir. I would like to say some kind words before we part: I absolutely LOVED this book. I truly felt connected to it in a way that I haven’t felt with another book in a while. So I want to congratulate you on creating a masterpiece, and for possibly becoming my next favorite author.

I almost wrote “I love you, Bye” before I realized that’s not how you end a letter. So until next time, okay? I love you, bye.

Rachel