Are you looking to get lost in a sweeping romance? It’s almost Valentine’s Day and that means all things L-O-V-E. So, I compiled a list of the best love story fiction books of all time for you below.
Of note, these books fall more into the “fiction” genre than the traditional “romance” genre. And while there are so many great love stories out there, these are simply my favorites.
The Best Love Story Fiction Books
- The Dinner List
- The Happy Ever After Playlist
- The Light We Lost (a bestseller on this website)
- Normal People
- My Oxford Year
- Pride and Prejudice
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
- The Unhoneymooners
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
I first became interested in The Dinner List when Ashley Spivey and her Facebook group members were all raving about it. I devoured this book on audio as soon as it came out.
The Dinner List fleshes out the discussion question we have all been asked at some point: What five people, living or dead, would you like to have dinner with? With a spirit of magical realism, The Dinner List answers this question for the protagonist, Sabrina, as she arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner to find not just her best friend, but also three important people from her past, as well as … Audrey Hepburn.
As the night unfolds, Sabrina dives deep into her past in order to come to terms with it, particularly with regards to one special relationship. The Dinner List will tug on your heartstrings for sure.
For more, read my full review of The Dinner List.
The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
The Happy Ever After Playlist is a “Bookstagram made me do it” book, one of the best beach reads and it’s the easiest love story to recommend because virtually everyone loves it. Two years after Sloan’s fiance dies, she finds an adorable dog … that happens to belong to a rock star on tour.
Their phone calls about the dog become flirty and romance ensues. The book is filled with song recommendations — a “playlist” — and, just when you think you know where the story is headed, it moves in a different direction. You won’t be disappointed by this “happy” book.
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
One of the best-selling books on this blog
The Light We Lost remains the only book to date that made me sob. It was also a Reese Witherspoon book club selection. Lucy and Gabe met as college students on 9/11 in New York and decide they want their lives to mean something. A year later, when they meet again, it seems to be fate.
But when Gabe becomes a photojournalist and is assigned to work in the Middle East, Lucy decides to remain in New York to pursue her career. Although Lucy and Gabe become continents apart, they are never totally out of each other’s hearts.
Thereafter is a decade of love, loss, life, and everything in between — from dreams to jealousies and betrayals. The Light We Lost will make you feel an array of complex emotions for these characters as they journey into adulthood together and apart, and it will be one book you cannot put down. I recommend this book if you are in the mood for a tearjerker!
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People is a character-driven love story and one of the best books set in school, which begins when Connell and Marianne are high school students. Marianne is unpopular, so Connell keeps their relationship a secret, and this secret caused him to make hurtful decisions that push them apart.
When Connell and Marianne start college, Marianne is the popular one and Connell is a recluse. As college progresses, Connell and Marianne drift in and out of each other’s lives and, for better or worse, change the course of each other’s lives.
Normal People tackles themes of class, youth, worth/shame, abuse and mental health. It also embraces the highest of highs and the lowest of lows that can be so characteristic of young love. This book was hard to put down at times, and it is one of the best love story fiction books of the modern era.
For more, read my full review of Normal People.
My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
My Oxford Year is one of my most recommended books and one of the best books set in school because everyone seems to like it, and the perfect addition to an Around the World Reading Challenge for the United Kingdom. American Ella Durran has dreamed of studying at Oxford and, at age 24, she has finally achieved her dream on a Rhodes Scholarship. The catch is that she was also offered a coveted position on an American presidential campaign. She embarks to England with the promise that she will work remotely on the political campaign and return to America at the end of her Oxford year.
When Ella learns that her English literature course will be taught by a snarky local, Jamie Davenport, she expects the worst. But they have a connection that begins as a casual fling and develops more after Ella learns that Jamie has a life-changing secret.
Ella must face an impossible decision: either to follow her political dreams after her Oxford year or to remain by Jamie’s side turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during life’s trials and tribulations. I recommend this book if you like “smart chick lit” — a beach read with a bit more depth.
For more, read my full review of My Oxford Year.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is arguably the most classic of all classic love stories, by Jane Austen, it’s a life-changing book of a very relevant celebrity, it’s one of the best books for Spring, it’s on the Rory Gilmore book list and it’s a great escape read. First published in 1813, it follows Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters, all unmarried, as they deal with manners, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency.
After the rich and eligible Mr. Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr. Darcy, move into their neighborhood, the women clamor for attention. While Mr. Bingley takes a liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Mr. Darcy repeatedly clashes with Elizabeth.
But, the more Elizabeth learns of Mr. Darcy, her views of him change. Pride and Prejudice is about the forces that can prohibit one from finding a happy ending, and it is, without question, one of the best love story fiction books of all time.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the sweetest disverse young adult (YA) story of the charming half-Asian teen Lara Jean, who lives with her dad and two sisters after their mom died, and it’s a great escape read.
Lara Jean writes each of her crushed a letter about how she feels, seals them and hides them in a box under her bed. Then, one day, Lara Jean learns that her letters have been mailed, causing her crushes from her past to confront her about her feelings — from her first kiss to the boy from summer camp, and even her older sister’s ex-boyfriend.
As Lara Jean deals with her teenage angst, she becomes close to one particular young man and wonders if her predicament isn’t so bad after all. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is compulsively consumable for teens and adults, and it is also an absolutely adorable movie on Netflix.
For more, read my full review of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
The Unhoneymooners reminded me of what was best about late 90s / early 2000s romantic comedy movies.
Olive is the unlucky identical twin sister. Her sister, Ami, however, is about to have the ultimate dream wedding — for free. While Olive must spend the wedding day with her sworn enemy, the best man, Ethan, the rest of the wedding party gets food poisoning, in a surprisingly hilarious sequence of events. And what’s left is an all-expenses-paid honeymoon the happy couple cannot attend.
For the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise with each other with the plan of spending as little time together as possible. But when Olive runs into her future boss, she tells a little white lie and needs Ethan more than ever — to pretend to be her new husband. But the time they spend together isn’t all bad … in fact, it’s pretty good. Can you guess where this is headed?
Those are the best love story fiction books of all time for adults.
Instagram “Love Stories” Template
For more love story fun, save the Instagram story template to your phone and edit it on Instagram with your favorite romances. Be sure to tag me (@bookish_jules) so I can re-share it.
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