Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Reading

While I was never big on romance novels or a sucker for love scenes, in honor of Valentine's Day I thought I'd throw out the few love stories that warmed my heart and the characters that I find most memorable:

Gone With The Wind is the classic romance novel and the second bestselling book of all time (the first being the bible). Scarlett and Rhett's love and passion make this a must read on the most romantic day of the year. And let's face it, the fact that there's a war going on and they could be killed at any moment, gives the romance a dash of suspense that make crime readers like me unable to look away.

Lolita may not be the classic, or even mainstream love story but you cannot help but be entranced by Humpert's undying affection for Lolita, no matter how sick and twisted. Looking at the facts of the story, yes, he is a child molester who, in the real world, would serve time in prison combined with counseling sessions and shots of Depo Provera, but by simply listening to the story, hearing the way Humpert sees and speaks of Lolita, it's impossible not to feel sympathetic.
Welcome To Temptation is not your typical romance either, depsite the pink cover. Crusie's humerous writing style, combined with a hint of darkness and gore made me literally laugh out loud. Sophie and Amy come from a family of con artists and when they roll into town attempting to shoot an art film (code name for porn) they cause the small town of Temptation, Ohio to launch an uproar. But they know how to get their way with people, especially when the town Mayor is cute and has a thing for Sophie. Again, not something I'd normally read but I can still recite scenes from this book even though I read it almost five years ago.

Possible Side Effects is more of a comedy than a romance but I think of all the significant others in the literary world, I like Dennis the best. Augusten is a neurotic, recovering alcoholic, germophob writer and somehow, he managed to get a great guy like Dennis to put up with him. Reading about their relationship always makes me smile, especially in scenes where their sleeping with their large dog in between them, or eating a dish called the "lesbian expansion" that sits like rocks in their stomachs and they spend their evening rubbing each other's belly's. If you hate the sappy, birds-chirping-music-playing-in-the-background type love stories, this is the right Valentine's book for you.

Unbearable Lightness of Being was one of the first books I read that truly blew me away. It was the first book I read that was t0ld in that "block" structure. It was the first book I read that had characters I fell in love with, a romance I cared about, philosophy that I didn't grow bored of and character studies that I didn't deam unnecessary. It was an unexpected favorite and one that I have reread numerous times, each time, growing more and more fond of it.

It seems like I have a strange grouping of books that I deam as romantic, but like I said, I'm not one for the sappy stuff. Feel free to leave your own Valentine's Day inspired reading list, no matter how standard or out there you think it may be.

1 comment:

Quinn said...

My favorite literary love story has to be The Time Traveler's Wife, which manages to feel honest and touching in spite of (or maybe partly because of) its sci-fi twist on the formula. The characters are wonderfully well-realized and their romance never once drifts into the maudlin or cloying. It's a great work of imagination grounded solidly in a sharp knowledge of how people act when life challenges them in unusual and unfair ways.