Originally posted at The Great Noveling Adventure
I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for a good romance. I don’t often read books that are purely romance, and I’m more than okay if a book skips the lovey-dovey stuff altogether, but I do enjoy a little kissing every now and then. Or a lot of kissing. A lot of kissing is fine too.
There are so many memorable romances in books, but here are five by which I believe all others can be measured.
5. MIA HALL AND ADAM WILDE
“But the you who you are tonight is the same you I was in love with yesterday, the same you I’ll be in love with tomorrow.”
Mia and Adam’s relationship in Gayle Forman’s If I Stay is so realistic that I saw bits and pieces of my own relationships in it. Mia and Adam are different yet not-so-different. Both are music lovers, but Mia is a classical cellist and Adam sings and plays guitar in a rock band. Mia struggles with their differences throughout the book and their relationship is far from perfect, but the sweet moments they share make the hardships worthwhile. Plus, Adam wins the Best Boyfriend Ever award for just about everything he does. He stands by Mia and respects her 100%, he always seems to know exactly what to say, and when she needs him the most, he drops everything to be there. In a literary world that’s rampant with bad boy characters, it’s a breath of fresh air to read about a genuinely good guy.
4. SOPHIE HATTER AND HOWL PENDRAGON
“I think we ought to live happily ever after.”
Howl Pendragon was my very first literary crush. The titular character of Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle is the epitome of an anti-hero — vain, selfish, and often cowardly. Despite his less than tolerable traits, he always manages to come through in the end, leaving you wondering why you love him but knowing without a doubt you do. Howl and Sophie’s relationship is unique because although Sophie is around the same age as Howl, she’s stuck in an elderly body throughout most of the book. Their love transcends physicality, and Sophie gradually changes Howl for the better, turning him from a narcissistic pseudo-villain into the person he was truly meant to be. Although their romance is subtle and builds slowly, I was cheering for it the entire time.
3. AUGUSTUS WATERS AND HAZEL LANCASTER
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
John Green has a knack for writing intelligent teenagers who refuse to take things at face value. Instead, they question the world around them and find comfort in the fact that they aren’t in it alone. In The Fault in Our Stars, Green has written an endearing, beautiful love story about two kids dealing with the fragility of life in a very real, and thus often painful, way. Fortunately, they have each other to help with that. Everything about Hazel and Augustus’ relationship is sweet and sincere. We get to know them through their conversations about their fears, their doubts, and their places in the universe, and we fall in love with them as they fall in love with each other. More than most other authors I’ve read, John Green understands what it is to be human, and by extension, he understands what it is to be in love.
2. RON WEASLEY AND HERMIONE GRANGER
“Good luck, Ron!” said Hermione standing tiptoe and kissing him on the cheek. “And you, Harry–”
Ron seemed to come to himself slightly as they walked back across the Great Hall. He touched the spot on his face where Hermione had kissed him, looking puzzled, as though he was not quite sure what had just happened. He seemed too distracted to notice much around him.
Oh, Ron and Hermione. What can I say? I grew up with the Harry Potter series, and I watched Ron and Hermione slowly fall in love as they grew together. The series is told almost completely from Harry’s point of view, so you only get glimpses into Ron and Hermione’s relationship, but I waited for those glimpses. I counted on them. I’ve never shipped anything as hard as I shipped Ron and Hermione, and the payoff when they finally kissed was one of the most gratifying moments I’ve ever read. Rowling built up to that scene masterfully throughout seven books. Ron and Hermione’s relationship happened naturally, just the way it does in real life. There were bumps along the way, and it wasn’t immediately spark-filled and passionate, but I’m a fan of the subtle build.
1. ELIZABETH BENNET AND MR. DARCY
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Elizabeth and Darcy’s is the great literary love story. It just doesn’t get any better than them. Even if you haven’t read Pride & Prejudice or seen any of the many wonderful adaptations, the story is a familiar one: they dislike each other in the beginning, but after being forced to spend time together due to circumstances beyond their control, they gradually fall in love. It’s a story that has been co-opted and embraced many times since Jane Austen first put it to page in the early 19th century. Mr. Darcy may not be the ideal man at first glance, but he still manages to cause major swooning, and it’s hard not to cheer for him and Elizabeth, in whom he finally meets his match.