Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain.
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain. Focus Features

17 Classic Love Stories to Curl Up With on Valentine's Day

Feb 12, 2016
Ideas
Sarah Begley is a staff writer for TIME.

For as long as there's been storytelling, there have been love stories. Here are some of the best to hunker down with on Feb. 14, whether or not you have a Valentine to read to.

W. W. Norton & Company

Maurice

E.M. Forster's story of two men finding love in Edwardian England—complete with a happy ending—was so ahead of its time, it wasn't published until after he died, nearly six decades after it was written.

Vintage

Love in the Time of Cholera

Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza put their love on the back burner for decades while life interferes, but they reunite in old age in Gabriel García Márquez's novel.

Harper Perennial Modern Classics

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston's landmark novel takes Janie Crawford through two unhappy relationships before she finally meets Tea Cake—a man who brings his own problems, but who finally gives her the kind of love she's been longing for.

Anchor

Pride and Prejudice

No list of romances would be complete without the story of Jane Austen's most beguiling couple, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

Vintage Books

The English Patient

Michael Ondaatje makes infidelity look romantic in his WWII story of star-crossed lovers.

Riverhead Books

High Fidelity

Record shop owner Rob Fleming reminisces over his worst breakups before reuniting and committing to his most recent ex, Laura, in Nick Hornby's ode to pop culture.

Scribner

Brokeback Mountain

Annie Proulx's tale of forbidden love between two shepherds in Wyoming gave us one of the most iconic lines in contemporary romance: "I wish I knew how to quit you."

Folger Shakespeare Library

Romeo and Juliet

Sure, things don't end so well for Verona's most notorious couple, but Shakespeare's lovebird protagonists have become bywords for romance.

Dover Publications

The Price of Salt

Therese Belivet and Carol Aird find unlikely love, despite strict societal pressures to remain apart, in Patricia Highsmith's groundbreaking novel, an LGBT standard.

Penguin Classics

Wuthering Heights

What Catherine and Heathcliff's love lacks in idealism, it makes up for in passion in Emily Brontë's iconic novel of the English moors.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Princess Bride

The love between Buttercup and Westley spawns an improbable adventure in William Goldman's beloved fantasy.

Anchor

Atonement

A passionate beginning to a relationship between Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner turns bitter after Cecilia's sister intervenes out of ignorance, leading to miserable results for everyone in Ian McEwan's metafictional account of cursed love.

Little, Brown and Company

The Hottest State

William and Sarah get hot and heavy fast in Ethan Hawke's depiction of the wonder and torture of young love.

Anchor

Americanah

Young lovers Ifemelu and Obinze separate and lead vastly different lives away from their homeland of Nigeria before finally reuniting in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's meditation on race and identity.

Vintage International

The Remains of the Day

An English butler named Stevens reflects on a lifetime of unrequited love for his former colleague, Miss Kenton, in Kazuo Ishiguro's masterpiece.

Harcourt

The Time Traveler's Wife

Audrey Niffenegger's sci-fi bestseller follows Clare Anne Abshire and her husband Henry DeTamble, a man born with a genetic disorder that makes him time through travel unexpectedly. They overcome the unpredictability of their situation to make a life together in the past, present and future.

Penguin Classics

The Odyssey

Homer puts his hero Odysseus through countless trials and mishaps on his way to reunite with his wife, Penelope, who remains faithful to him through his decades-long absence.


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