If you’re wanting to get romantic in your choice of reading, you need to read these classic romance books! They are great for the casual reader as well as the hardest book lover as they are good stories, with brilliant characters showing what it's like to meet someone special and fall in love. Not only that, you might get some ideas to spice up your own romantic lives or get inspiration to get out there to tie the knot with someone!
Romeo and Juliet
Via: Free at Loyal Books
Perhaps the most famous romance story in all of history! The tragic tale of young lovers that were never meant to be together due to social and societal expectations. Coming from two different upbringings and at war with each other, they fall in love at first sight. This masterpiece by William Shakespeare was firstly a play with premiered in 1597 and could go on to inspire countless remakes, inspired novels, and movies!
The prose is beautiful and truly captures what young and naive love feels like during youth and how it can make you do stupid and reckless things to be with the person your heart screams for.
Jane Eyre is a true classic romance novel published in 1847! It follows a young woman battling through life’s many obstacles from her youth under the care of a horrid aunt, to being sent off to a school with equally terrible teachers. She eventually finds herself living at the estate of the much older, but handsome man, Rochester, where her life starts to take a turn for improvement.
However, in the brilliance of Bronte’s plots and prose, Jane isn’t quite out of the woods yet! She must confront strange happenings around the house, juggle the age gap between a blooming romance with the man of the house, and try to not seek out the ‘ghost’ at night. They quickly fall in love and although Rochester has a troubled past he does have some redeeming qualities which show how he truly cares for Jane.
This is a great book and not spoil the end it had me gripped at a young age and I can still remember key scenes and revelations to this very day! Your heart will flutter with every scene between Jane and Rochester and you’ll wish to be whisked away to a romantic noble English estate!
The Great Gatsby
Like several other examples on this list, the Great Gatsby is not strictly a romance book but has a gripping love story between two characters that leaves your heart aching by the end. It is tragic, and yet so very beautiful, a modern ‘Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s New York. It might make it your next place to get away on a romantic holiday?
You follow the story from the perspective of Nick Carraway who meets an extravagant millionaire called Gatsby who is trying to reunite with an old love of his life Daisy Buchanan. It follows the crazed battle for love through the over-spending of money to cry out across the water to a distant light that never seems to pay attention…
This book came out in 1925 and an equally brilliant film came out in 2013, but nothing beats the prose of the narrator as he reflects on his life, friends, and love.
Published in 1973, many people do not realize that the film which came out in 1987 is based on a book! Published as part of a series of classic fairy tale romances, this novel presents classic romance tropes that we all love and adore! From the damsel in distress to the horrid foe, to the beautiful woman, and the equally handsome man. Throw in a bit of magic, a curse here and there, and some comedy gold -you have some great material to work with!
It is a romance book by heart, but it also has adventure and action with amazing fight scenes and very tender moments between lovers. It is worth every second of reading it and it made my heart melt! Now let's get someone to stare longingly at the sunset on a sheet of ice…
Pride and Prejudice
This is THE romance book where at one stage of my childhood life I had close to ten different additions sitting on my bookshelf. I love the covers, and who could blame me? Forget the fact it might’ve been published in 1813, it is a timeless classic with content and characters which are still relevant to the trials of love today.
The characters are gorgeously crafted and are all believable, even if some of them are horrid people I would never want to meet. Take Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of our tale, she is level-headed, and a little unsure about love and what she wants, but she is strong and will do anything to protect her family and will not let anyone step on her!
She makes a great partner to stand up to the pompous Mr. Darcy. All their scenes are adorable together and through their trials, misunderstandings, and awkward meetings it develops into a satisfying series of events. It paints the classic archetype of romance which has been copied by countless works since this book was published.
This is the most usual book that I have ever read. Firstly, it is told in a similar vein to the Great Gatsby, from the perspective of an outsider. The romance is of a similar tragic air to Romeo and Juliet where we have two people from different worlds that can just not ever be together. It extrapolates this fact that they live in a world that is harsh, unforgiving, and could never be willing to accept two people so different being together.
Rather than creating bubbling feelings, as the book transpires Heathcliff starts to become transformed by the reality that his true love Cathy will never be with him. When she marries another man, his transformation into a monster of the moors takes full form. The novel, although cemented in the ‘romantic story’ genre is an example of how toxic relationships can develop between people and how easily feelings of entitlement can turn one into an abuser.
What do you think about this 1847 novel and should this tale be considered a ‘romance’ book?
Gone With the Wind
This 1936 American classic, has been called an ‘epic’ spanning the life of a young woman during the American Civil war. It is a coming-of-age story where a formerly rich Scarlett O'Hara climbs out of poverty after losing her father’s plantation wealth. It is firstly, a historical novel, but in the opening parts romance soon peeps its head.
At the beginning of 1861 Scarlett at the age of 16 is described as not being beautiful, but has the power of wit and charm which is able to swoop up any man. She has a crush on Ashley Wilkes in her town but is disheartened to hear he is engaged. She tries to blackmail him into professing his love, but he does not return it. The blackmail is overheard by another man Rhett Butler, of whom she says ‘you’re not a gentleman’, and he responds with ‘and you’re not a woman’. After that ordeal, she soon loses her youth as she marries a man that dies two weeks later.
Through a series of events she finds herself running again and again into Rhett Butler. Soon they develop feelings for each other and over the slow burn are drawn together despite the trials they are going through. The book goes through their time together and in the end is a bitter ending to an equally insightful, gripping, and yet heartbreaking tale of love.
Via: Paper Plus
This piece of often regarded as one of the best pieces of literature for how it portrays certain themes and depicts the complex creatures of people. Published in 1878 it tells the story of eight different characters set across imperial Russian society looking at themes of faith, betrayal, family, and marriage.
We follow the scandalous affair of Anna ann Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky as they break the chains of marriage and escape their nation to be together in Italy despite the social backlash. They are young and in love and all they care about is being close to each other and happy in each other's company. But whether they want to or not, society will not accept them for what they want.
Anna is young and feels the pressures of her class as well as being a part of a family expected to marry for the sake of exchange and wealth versus love. All she wants is to escape and be happy in love which is true. Yet her wants, affect those around her, and this novel deals with the aftermath of breaking marriage from multiple perspectives.
A Room With a View
Via: TheMarket NZ
Published in 1908, this is a humorous critique of society at the turn of the 20th century from the perspective of a young adult Lucy Honeychurch. We follow her sexual awakening as she strives to break out of her old life to start a new one in which she searches for who she is in society and herself. During this quest, she becomes more independent and breaks into the strange world of love.
She is forced early on by her friend to leave the room and guidebook behind the experience the real Italy and whilst there she meets George and his father. Getting lost, Lucy and George both witness a murder and he helps her before she almost faints from the shock. He retrieves the photos she took of the crime and then they have a sweet moment by the river talking.
Lucy is confused by George and so tries to avoid him after that encounter but as the book progresses, amongst some setbacks and grounds gained she comes to realize her feelings for George. Her close friend Charlotte does not trust George and his father as she thinks of them as socialists, so for a time, this keeps Lucy on an air of caution around the Emersons. Eventually, she finds the courage with a little encouragement from her older friends to ask him to be her partner.
Gentlemen Prefer Blonds
You probably picture an image of the classic movie star Merylin Monroe from the 1953 film by the same name, but like with many on this list, it was originally a book published in 1925. It is a comedic romantic story of a young blond gold-digger lady called Lorelei Lee who says that she is a ‘little girl from Little Rock’.
The story is a satirical take on 1920s jazz culture with a protagonist that embodied a large part of American culture at that time in terms of being hedonistic and greedy. Anyone that reads it even today will still find its lighthearted humor and have a great time!
The narrator is a catch from the first few pages as she goes through her adventures in search of men, their riches, and not knowing how to commit to just one! Her whit and weakness of not knowing the word ‘subtle’ are perhaps what makes this work stand so well! Characters like Lorelei Lee stand out from the average book because they are not written to the same degree whilst still being likable despite their obvious flaws.
A kiss on the hand may make you feel very nice, but a diamond and sapphire bracelet lasts forever.
— Lorelei Lee, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (We at Thorum could not agree any less! We have great rings which shine and last forver).
We really had to cut this list down! Who knew there were so many great classic romance books? We might make a part two in the future, but for now, we hope we gave you some inspiration to pick up a romantic book and give it a swing. You can learn more about yourself and the trials of love through the trials of the characters. And you just might find a great date idea in one of these ol’ paperbacks.