Here is a list of 10 love books for people who truly and utterly dislike romance novels.
1. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Is Dark Matter a romantic novel? Not really. But it’s an exciting thriller that will not let go of you till the very end. The Sci-Fi twist is excellent, but in essence, it is a romantic story about a husband trying desperately to get home to his wife and family. Dark Matter truly makes you feel the hero’s desire to come back Home, without losing the sense of excitement and mystery of the thriller that it is. It’s a great example that love stories can be a powerful tool when used properly within the story.
2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
This modern classic needs no special introduction as one of the most celebrated love novels of modern writing. Still, it is much more than your average romance novel. The love story between Florentino and Fermina is one that lasts through hardship, decades, wars and epidemics, but also Florentino’s 622 (!!!) lovers (wink, wink).
If you ever wanted to read a book that tells a rich story of a place, an era, and a nation, while also celebrating many kinds of love – Love in the Time of Cholera might be a book for you.
3. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
It Ends With Us was vote the best romance novel by the Goodreads audience in 2016. Not very promising when it comes to this list, isn’t it? And yes, this is a very romancy romance novel. The story revolves heavily around the love story aspect. Still, it comes with a major twist, and when I say major, I mean MAJOR. It is hard to go into details without spoiling the book, but let’s just say every woman should read this book. Every man should read it, as well.
This romance novel explores the possible side of love romance stories tend to avoid or overly simplify. And it does it justice. I recently introduced it into my (all-female) book club, and there were complaints (a lot of members truly despise romance novels), but mostly those complaints were set aside once they read the book and realized just how powerful this romance novel’s message actually is.
4. Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
We all remember that time when Twilight kicked off a whole new era of vampire YA fantasy writing with mixed results. The movement was attractive but did not have a lot of substance. At first glance, Vampire Academy seems like just one of many.
Until you start reading – AND YOU JUST CAN’T STOP. The world Mead built is enchanting, rich, believable and sexy. The writing is fast and concise. And the romance aspects are steamingly hot! Still, it’s not a romance novel, and it’s not a romance series. While it does have a powerful love interest, in essence, it revolves around a friendship between two girls, both badass in their own way.
Eventually, a movie was filmed but the movie series never made it to the sequel. In many ways, its uniqueness was ahead of its time. But you should definitely read the series. I promise you, you will read all 6 books in no time!
5. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavander by Leslye Walton
We don’t need to love romance novels to appreciate the importance of love and romance within our own lives. This book talks about that importance, more accurately – the the gravity of that very first love that mostly happens to us at that tender age when we are still inexperienced and vulnerable. Willingly or unwillingly, it shapes us.
But the true value of this book is the writing that is so magical (magical realism) and enchanting you will have difficulties putting the book down. Also, it is a family saga that follows three generations of females. Often sorrowful, but always beautiful, it proves yet again that a story can revolve around love without losing its appeal to those who do not seek a book just for the romance.
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte
Jane Eyre might be a definition of a romance novel that is so much more than a romance novel. The romance plot that happens to Jane in the book is only one aspect of a book that hides one of the most complex, inspiring and well-written characters of all time. It is there to give her context and to perhaps to show she is not a wallflower, or a damsel in distress but her own person, with her own agency.
Jane is a woman not typical for the age she was born into, and her bravery, wit, intelligence, and sensibility is what truly makes this books worth reading. Her love interest is there to provide context to this unforgettable character.
7. Dune by Frank Herbert
If you are familiar with Herbert’s work, you know that he is the author who is familiar with a lot of subjects. Still, his own personal love story with his wife inspired the love stories in Dune, as well. Dune is an epic sci-fi tale that explores philosophy, politics, ecology, religion, sexuality, and it is also a story that dwells deeply into what true love really is. It is one of the many reasons why I find this to be my favorite books (series) of all time.
8. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Before it was a famous movie, The Princess Bride was a book! A fantasy book that centers around an epic love story, but also mocks the tropes of the love stories within the fantasy genre, all in a very sweet and funny way.
9. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A Man Called Ove is a literal wonder from Sweden, and it follows an unusual hero – a grumpy old man who is basically deeply unhappy with the sunset of his life. It is a tragicomic story about love and loss, loneliness and the sometimes cruel and sometime beautiful realities of life.
There are many wonderful aspects of this book, but one of the most endearing and moving is how Ove describes the lifelong relationship with his, now deceased, wife. Think about those opening five minutes of the animated movie “Up” and you will get the picture. This book hides a gem – a love story like we only hope we find in our lives.
What love story would you recommend to readers who don’t like romance novels?