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What’s the best book to read to get into the mood for Valentine’s Day? Here at Dandelion Chandelier, we’re thinking that a romantic novel is the way to go. Our correspondent has curated a list of classic love stories, novels and books that we think are the perfect romantic reads for Valentine’s Day this year.

what are the perfect books to get in the mood for valentine’s day?

It’s hard to believe that Valentine’s Day is almost here. But with the stores full of pink cards and candy, our hearts are feeling full of love – whether that’s love for our friends, ourselves, or that special someone.

Whether you’re in a long-term relationship, dating around, happily single, or something somewhere in between, there is no better time of year to turn your imagination – and your choice of reading material – to the topic of love.

For some, that means cozying up with a romance novel as warm and sweet as a mug of hot cocoa. Or grabbing a novel that is still full of love, but just a little bit darker.

the perfect romantic reads for valentine’s day this year

You could, of course, choose to kick it Old School this year. Re-read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, or a slightly more modern version of the same tale, Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding.  For naughty types, there’s always 50 Shades of Grey. And classicists will surely return to Romeo and Juliet. But if you’re looking for something a bit more recent – more of the moment – then read on.

Whatever kind of romance floats your boat this Valentine’s Day, we’ve got you covered. From frothy and sweet to difficult and dark, here are twelve of our favorite books about love and romance.

The perfect reads for Valentine's Day this year

The perfect reads for Valentine’s Day this year. Courtesy Photos.

1. to all the boys i’ve loved before by Jenny Hain.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. This beloved young adult novel was made legend when it was adapted last year into one of the most GIFed and meme-d Netflix original movies of all time. And what do you know, the film version of the novel’s sequel (P.S. I Still Love You) comes out in just a couple of weeks, meaning now is the perfect moment to catch up on the first book. Where a lot of romantic books will sacrifice fully realized, three-dimensional characters for adorable archetypes and cutesy meet-cutes, Jenny Han’s masterpiece manages to have it all. It is both a completely sincere and believable coming of age story, and a romance that has even the most age-old tropes feeling fresh and fun once more.

2. red, white and royal blue by casey mcquiston.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Unless you’ve managed to totally avoid the Internet over the last year, you have probably heard of Red, White and Royal Blue. It was the book of the summer, exploding into people’s hearts like the book they had always wanted but never gotten to read – until now. For those who somehow missed this, the book is about the enemies-to-boyfriends romance between an alternate universe Prince of Wales and first son of the United States. It is a heartwarming, happy read, well-written and with well-rounded characters, and the kind of book that will make you feel better about things even on the worst day.

3. normal people by sally rooney.

Normal People by Sally Rooney. Normal People is for those who like novels that span long periods of time, and who like their couples complicated. Connell and Marianne are schoolmates but not friends, drawn together by the fact that Connell’s mother cleans Marianne’s mother’s house. But over time, you watch as their dynamic turns romantic, and continues to change in painful, beautiful and powerful ways. Rooney’s magical writing elevates the ordinary until it becomes extraordinary. This is a novel you will never forget.

The perfect reads for Valentine’s Day this year. Courtesy Photos.

4. love in the time of cholera by gabriel garcia marquez.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If you decided that love stories set over a long period of time are for you, then why not turn your attention to this timeless classic? No one writes like Marquez, and Love in the Time of Cholera is among his most cherished works. Florentino and Fermina are in love from the moment they first meet, but are torn apart by family, expectations, and other relationships. This is the story of Fermina’s two relationships throughout her life, and how they change and return in unexpected ways. It is the truest example of the fact that the chance for love is never really over.

5. how they met and other stories by david levithan.

How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan. This lovely anthology is everything you have ever wanted to read about love without any of the hard parts. Consider it a gentle, crowd-pleasing dance around the genre, the perfect escape from the rest of the world. If what you’re looking for is something bite-sized and drama free, this collection of wonderful short stories will make the perfect reading companion.

6. emergency contact by mary h. k. choi.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi. One of the best young adult books to come out of the past decade, Emergency Contact manages to take a relationship that is established almost entirely over text and turn it into a complex, sincere coming-of-age tale. It’s as emotional as it is romantic. What seems like it could be gimmicky is as far from that as possible. And you will find yourself loving all of the time you get to spend with Penny and Sam.

Love stories: the best book to read for Valentine's Day this year

Love stories: the best book to read for Valentine’s Day this year. Courtesy Photos.

7. anna and the french kiss by stephanie perkins.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. What city could be more romantic than Paris? In one of the most delightful young adult romances of all time, Anna is an American in Paris. Specifically, she’s in boarding school, and falling in love with the beautiful-and-British Etienne St. Clair. This book took readers by storm when it first came out, in part because of its wholly charming love interests and prose. And in part because it feels like such a tender and satisfying bit of wish fulfillment. Come on, who wouldn’t want to live in Paris and meet the boy of their dreams? If you like your romance fueled by wanderlust, this sugary novel will meet all your requirements.

8. can you keep a secret by sophie kinsella.

Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella. Can You Keep a Secret will remind you of another time – a certain era of screwball romantic comedies that are as much about the slapstick and silly circumstance as they are about the guy. This is one of those. It’s a romance novel, yes, but the best part of the book is the well-intentioned disaster of a protagonist, Emma. And the many absurd situations she stumbles into by mistake in the name of love.

9. the right swipe by alisha rai.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. Dating apps have so completely dominated the romantic scene, that it was about time a romance novel came along to incorporate them into the plot. This novel does exactly that, but with a twist: it’s not about the dating apps’ users, but their founders. In a way, it’s double the romance: romance between the characters, and romance as the business that turns them into rivals, at least at the book’s outset. Of all the books on this list, this one feels most of the moment. Both with its homage to the modern method of dating, and with its honest incorporation of consent into the plot.

Love stories: the best book to read for Valentine's Day this year

Love stories: the best book to read for Valentine’s Day this year. Courtesy Photos.

10. when katie met cassidy by camille perry.

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri. A breezy, fast, fun read that’s among the perfect love stories for Valentine’s Day. This is the story of a woman who, when dumped by her fiancé, finds herself falling for one of her female coworkers. If you want a book that flies by, offering a sweet and romantic queer love story along the way, this may be the perfect pick for you. Where a lot of romance novels will give you other side story lines to keep track of (as books sometimes do! – we understand), When Katie Met Cassidy is almost exclusively focused on the relationship between the two women, making it all romance all the time.

11. the wedding date by jasmine guillory.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. Jasmine Guillory is one of the very best authors in romance, and this is definitely the place to start if you are exploring the genre for the first time. The Wedding Date makes immediate, entertaining use of everyone’s favorite trope: strangers on a fake date (at a wedding) who of course, spoiler alert, fall hard for each other despite their best intentions.  This novel has everything you have ever loved about a romance novel, made into the absolute best possible version of itself. It also has the modern twist that the couple is interracial, and they have to explicitly deal with that as part of their ongoing affair. These are two characters who feel fully human, and are great fun to follow through the very end of the story.

12. the kiss quotient by helen hoang.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. We complete our list of the perfect reads for Valentine’s Day with a beloved novel. This book has an unbeatable premise: a young woman with Asperger’s who hires a male escort in order to hone her romantic skills. It is fast and easy to like, and you can feel the kindness and good intentions radiating off of Stella and Michael on the page. One of the most beautiful things about the romance genre is getting to see all the ways in which two people can find each other and fall in love, and this is one of the most creative.

Love stories: the best book to read for Valentine’s Day this year. Courtesy Photos.

what are the perfect novels and other reads for Valentine’s Day this year?

That’s it! Our top picks of the best books and love stories to read to get into the spirit for Valentine’s Day this year. How about you? What’s on your list?

Abbie Martin Greenbaum

Abbie Martin Greenbaum is a writer, reader, and pop culture connoisseur, who loves storytelling, coffee, and dessert. Her work has also appeared in Playbill.