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Take a break from planning your wedding—on the beach, by the pool, snuggled beside your sweetie—and remind yourself what the celebration is all about. These classic (and classic-in-the-making) love stories, hand-picked by Entomology of a Bookworm’s Kerry McHugh, are full of romance from beginning to happily ever after. If you haven’t read them yet, well, what are you waiting for?
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“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez
Considered by many to be the Latin American author’s greatest work, One Hundred Years of Solitude packs seven—yes, seven!—generations of family stories into one beautiful, inspiring novel full of powerful matriarchs and many a romance.
Sullivan’s novel weaves together the stories of four unique marriages with the life of Frances Gerety, the (real-life) advertising woman behind the now-famous tagline “A Diamond Is Forever.” Through multiple lenses, The Engagements explores the ups and downs and ins and outs of marriage, in all its many variations and across the generations.
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“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
Poor Jane Eyre is faced with one challenge after the next, but her determination keeps her trucking along until she gets the happy ending she deserves. If you’re already more than familiar with Jane’s trials and tribulations, consider Re Jane, by Patricia Park, a modern retelling that takes inspiration from Brontë’s original story but updates it in surprising ways. Both old and new are tributes to the importance of staying true to one’s self in the search for love.
The Melville House edition of Morley’s 1917 novella is compact enough to fit in the pocket of any bag, making it the perfect lightweight on-the-go companion. Don’t let its small size deceive you, though: the story of a traveling bookseller and the unexpected love he finds when selling his bookmobile packs a big heart.
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“Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu leaves Nigeria, and her first love, Obinze, to go to college in America. In her years abroad, she learns about how to cope with the struggles of immigrant life and what it means to be black for the first time. But above all, she learns how love can be tested but still endure across thousands of miles and decades of time. While the subject matter may seem heavy, Adichie’s novel is so engaging that you won’t be able to put it down until you find out whether or not the two young lovers find their way back to each other.
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“A Room With a View” by E. M. Forster
Published in 1908, Forster’s novel centers on young Lucy, who is touring Italy with a chaperone in order to see the world. As she falls in love, gets engaged, and travels from Florence to Rome, readers are treated to a will-she-won’t-she romance that is at once heartfelt and humorous. It reads like a turn-of-the-century romcom, complete with absurd coincidences and biting humor.
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“Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
Mitchell’s epic story of the South before, during, and after the Civil War has been hailed by some as the greatest love story of all time—and rightly so. Though tinged with heartbreak and heartache, the romance between Scarlett and Rhett may be one of the most powerful of its kind.
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“The Red Notebook” by Antoine Laurain
The Red Notebook recounts the missed-connection love story of Laurent Letellier, a Parisian bookseller who finds a woman’s purse on the sidewalk and is determined to return it to its owner. What starts as a good neighborly deed turns into something more as Laurent reads the small red notebook he finds in the purse and is desperate to meet the purse’s owner. The novella, translated from the original French, is clever and charming and a delight to devour.
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“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
If you haven’t read Little Women since childhood, it’s time to revisit it as an adult. The story of four sisters explores the strength of family bonds and friendship and romantic love—there’s more than one marriage in the mix. The combination of a good story and a heavy dose of nostalgia will sweep you up in the lives of the March sisters.
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“Middlemarch” by George Eliot
If you’re the type to pack War and Peace in your tote, Middlemarch may just be the challenge for you. Eliot’s novel weighs in at over 800 pages, but it’s well worth the effort if you’re willing to stick with it. The novel explores the female identity and the subject of marriage in particular, and its mix of good and bad unions provides both entertainment and education alike. Bonus: If you love the novel, or love the idea that novels can be powerful forces in our lives, consider picking up My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead as a second course.