Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with some great love stories!
Now, by “love stories” we don’t mean stuff you can use to line the bottom of your bird cage. That’s not what this post is about. You won’t find any cheap dime store boiler plate trash here. This list focuses on timeless love stories that go above and beyond boiler plate “romance.” (Hint: A transcendent theme of selflessness and sacrifice appears frequently in this curated list.)
Some of these titles are relatively new. Others have been around awhile. All reach straight for your heart. So climb aboard. And settle in to stay. (B.Y.O. tissue. In no particular order):
21 Top Loves Stories of All Time
1.Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
Once in a lifetime, a story comes along that inspires generations of readers. Where The Red Fern Grows is one of those stories. Set in the Ozarks during the depths of the Depression, this is a powerful, poignant story about the unbreakable bond between a young boy and his two Redbone Hound dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann. It reminds us what love really means. Bring Kleenex.
Note from Kimber: My personal favorite, friends! Even better than bacon! Mom always wants to snuggle up with me with this one. I’m a good helper, ya know. But I’m a World Class Snuggler and face-licker!
“People have been trying to understand dogs ever since the beginning of time. One never knows what they’ll do. You can read every day where a dog saved the life of a drowning child, or lay down his life for his master. Some people call this loyalty. I don’t. I may be wrong, but I call it love – the deepest kind of love.”
2.Epic – John Eldredge
This dramatic retelling of the gospel, the core message of best-selling author John Eldredge, illuminates the unique role we can play in the amazing story God is telling.
“The Lover of our souls, the One who has pursued us down through space and time, who gave his own life to rescue us from the Kingdom of Darkness, has made it clear: He does not want to lose us. He longs for us to be with him forever.”
3. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s masterpiece of love and life among English gentility during the Georgian era. Mr. Bennet is an English gentleman living in Hartfordshire with his overbearing wife, one of the most ridiculous mothers in all literature. Mrs. Bennet’s chief goal in life is to see her five daughters married off and living comfortably. But fate intervenes…
“My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.”
4. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
This novel traces the lives and loves of its two tragic protagonists, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and Larissa Antipova. Pasternak’s epic love story takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II. First published in Italy in 1957.
“Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! Their thoughts were like other people’s songs.”
5. A Common Life – Jan Karon
Laughter and wedding bells ring as Father Tim and his artist neighbor, Cynthia, get ready to tie the knot in the beloved town of Mitford. Finally!
“I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.”
6. Message in a Bottle – Nicholas Sparks
When a woman discovers a tragic love letter in a bottle on a beach, she’s determined to track down its author – and finds much more.
Emotionally intense story of love after loss. Set in Wilmington, North Carolina.
“Without you in my arms, I feel an emptiness in my soul.”
7.The Princess Bride – William Golding
Six-fingered swordsmen. Murderous princes. Treachery. Gallantry. Sicilians and rodents of unusual size.
Buttercup and Westley’s love story is a classic that not even the Dread Pirate Roberts can sink. Did you know the 1987 movie was based on a book?
“As you wish.”
8.Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen
Set largely in Kenya, East Africa, this sweeping epic is a story of discovery, loss and love.
Karen Blixen followed her dreams until her dreams became reality. She came to Africa from Denmark to search for something inside herself. There, she discovers a man and a country. And life as she’s never known it.
Blixen published her autobiographical Out of Africa under the nom de plume, Isak Dinesen.
The 1985 movie won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. It stars Meryl Streep as Blixen and Robert Redford as her lover, Dennys Finch-Hatton.
“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”
9.The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
A touching story about what we long for. What we settle for. And who we were meant for. Full of longing and wistfulness. Despair and hope. And unexpected plot twists. Vintage Nicholas Sparks.
“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I’ll never forget a single moment of it.”
10.Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
Don’t make me explain this.
“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”
11.Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Mitchell’s page-turning, sweeping American epic has been a classic for over eighty years. Beloved and thought by many to be the greatest of the American novels, Gone with the Wind is a story of love, hope and loss set before, during, and after the U.S. Civil War.
‘After all, tomorrow is another day.”
11 – 14. The Last Promise, A Perfect Day, The Letter, The Sunflower, – Richard Paul Evans
15.The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams
How a brand new toy becomes Real.
Don’t think this “children’s” classic is a love story? Think again.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
16.Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
Beloved love story between the plucky orphan and governess Jane Eyre and the dark and brooding Rochester.
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”
The Last Leaf – O. Henry
This short story is set in Greenwich Village during a pneumonia epidemic. It’s about an old artist who saves the life of a young neighbouring artist, dying of pneumonia, by giving her the will to live.
17. Bid Time Return – Richard Matheson
A haunting story of the link between a man and a woman that transcends time. The novel upon which the movie Somewhere in Time is based.
“Come back to me.”
18. Through Gates of Splendor – Elisabeth Elliot
The true story of Operation Auca, an attempt by five American missionaries – Jim Elliot (the author’s husband), Pete Flemming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian – to reach the Huaorani tribe of eastern Ecuador. All five were killed by the tribe. Published in 1957, the best-selling book was written by Jim Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
19. The Bridges of Madison County – Robert James Waller
I know, I know. One of us is a sucker for sappy love stories that tug at the heart strings. Hi, Mom.
Photographer Robert Kincaid shows up in Nowheresville, Iowa one hot summer day, searching for the covered bridges of Madison County. He meets Francesca Johnson, a farm wife waiting for the fulfillment of a girlhood dream. Neither life will ever be the same.
“In a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once, and never again, no matter how many lifetimes you live.”
20. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Our favorite Dickens novel, set during the violent upheaval of the French Revolution. It’s a barn burner. And that’s really saying something for ‘ole Chuck.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
21. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
Think this is just a children’s story? Think again.
Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.
“Course he isn’t safe, but he is good. He is not a tame lion.”
February 14, 2023 at 6:09 pm
These are all such classics. I’ve read a few of them, but need to read more
February 14, 2023 at 6:37 pm
Glad to hear! Thanks for commenting!