Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
This week’s topic is love – in honour of Valentine’s Day. I must admit I groaned when I saw it. I’m sure my husband would agree that I am not a romantic person. I do not read romance very often. I read Normal People last year and unlike almost everyone else I’ve spoken to about it, didn’t like it very much. I had a go at reading a Cecelia Ahern a few years ago but found that tedious. (How to Fall in Love for anyone who is interested.) Similarly, classics such as Pride and Prejudice or A Room with a View do not rank among my favourites. So I was very tempted to skip a week. However, I decided to have a look at Goodreads and see if I could find ten books that counted as romance and here they are.
Top Ten Romance Novels from the Shelves of a Unromantic Soul.
- The Only Story – Julian Barnes (2018) I love Barnes. He is one of my favourite writers. This is the story of Paul who never quite recovers (and never really understands) his first love. As ever with Barnes, the reader is required to read between the lines to get the whole story. See also: Talking it Over and Love Etc.
- Possession – A. S. Byatt (1990) I need something more than romance to really love a book and here you have the uncovering of the past through the correspondence of two Victorian poets. Byatt’s prose is clever without being difficult. Very enjoyable.
- The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)– This is one of the only classic romances that I do actually like and could imagine re-reading. The depiction of the ‘Jazz Age’ is beautifully done. Also the tragedy of it is quite appealing.
- The Fault in our Stars – John Green (2012) Okay, this is pretty much a straightforward romance but the writing is lively and the tragedy of it is hard to resist. Green’s style can be a bit annoying and I always wish I was a sixteen year old reading so I could appreciate it less cynically but overall a good read. See also: Looking for Alaska, another unconventional teen romance.
- High Fidelity – Nick Hornby (1995) To my mind, this is Hornby’s best novel but that may because I’m a big music fan. I also live with a man who is fond of making lists. Very enjoyable as long as you don’t take it too seriously.
- The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) More unrequited love than actual romance, this really touched me when I read it last year. I found the inability of Stephens to see what was under his nose quite heartbreaking.
- Fatal Shadows – Josh Lanyon (2000) I loved this series. More romantic suspense than straightforward romance, the relationship between Adrien and Jake is as important as the crime fighting element. Also nice subversion of the tropes of detective fiction. See also: Come Unto These Yellow Sands and Snowball in Hell.
- The Dreyfuss Affair: A Love Story (1992) – Peter Lefcourt A tale of two baseball players who fall in love and the scandal that ensues when they are caught in the act. There are a lot of different viewpoints and hypocritical attitudes are shown. Plenty of baseball as well.
- Atonement – Ian McEwan (2001) I do have issues with the ending of this book – which I won’t disclose because major spoiler – but other than that, it is a very good read. Of course, there is the war to distract from love which certainly made it more interesting for me.
- The Understudy – David Nicholls (2005) I’m not a massive Nicholls fan but this book annoyed me the least of the three that I have read. It was funny, Stephen was relatable – even if some characters are caricatures. Another one not to be taken too seriously.