So, in case my incessant, giddy babbling about it hasn’t reached your ears yet, I’m getting married in 8 days. I cannot tell you how much I love this man and how much I look forward to our life together.
With that love in mind, I decided to just go “all in” and give you my top ten love stories today. Some are sappy, some racy, some kind of hard – but they all remind me that love is powerful, ragged, gorgeous thing in its many shapes. Today, here’s to love.
10. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – The language in this book is lovely, sweeping, and beautiful as is Roy’s facility with story. She ties together romance and politics and family in a way that resonated deeply with me. I still picture that river scene in this book when I see the cover.
9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – By far, one of my favorite books ever. I love the Catherines, the ghostly feel, the landscape, and I even love Heathcliff. A hard book for many reasons but gorgeous and laden with literary symbol that goes almost unnoted in the captivating story.
8. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – Most of us have seen the film, which is beautiful itself, but the book is even more lovely. Rich with nuance and great storytelling, the book made me feel the urgency of getting back to the cave, the way a dream feels urgent . . . but without the waking.
7. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie – I still remember reading this book in the library of the university in Cheltenham and wondering why I had never read Rushdie before. The way he weaves magic and politics, love and identity . . . and of course, snot, still make me marvel. So rich.
6. Heels of Love by Phoenix Rayne – I don’t read many true romance novels, but I had the honor of reading this one before it’s even out next week, and it’s so fun. Great characters with a compelling storyline. Plus, I learned a great deal about fashion – who knew there were this many types of stilettos? – from the reading. Rayne is a first-time novelist, so I love that her book is coming out.
5. Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx – This collection, of course, contains “Brokeback Mountain.” Again, the film made this story so popular, but the story itself is rich and tragic and beautiful, too. Plus, as I allow myself to grow into the country girl I seem to have always been, I love the setting and the situation of this beautiful, hurting romance.
4. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare – This is my favorite play of Shakespeare’s, mostly because I love Feste, the fool, and Sir Toby, but I also love the way that Shakespeare handles the fluidity of love. Plus, it ends with a big wedding, and you know, I have weddings on the brain at this moment.
3. Possession by A. S. Byatt – Literature, history, romance, a university – how could I not love this book? And then add to it rich writing and complex structure – I’m absolutely enthralled. Byatt is one of my all-time favorite writers.
2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – Oh, to know the struggles with hard men. I relate to Janie in that. And when she finds Tea Cake, oh heaven sent man, I know that, too. The book is, of course, far more complex with the economic and racial struggles of its setting. Yet, today, today, it’s Tea Cake I want to remember.
1. Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories by Angela Carter – I love all of Carter’s work, but it’s her feminist retellings of fairy tales that I most adore. They give the women power, make them volatile, even violent at times, and still maintain the beauty and rawness of the original stories. Now that I’m marrying a man who wants me to be strong, I take these stories even closer to heart.
So there you have it, today’s top ten. I still find myself wanting to read more deeply into works by people of color, and I clearly need to read more recent love stories. And yet, I love this list, still . . . of course, right now, I love most everything so . . .
What love stories would you add?
Just a note – starting tomorrow, I will be handing over the blog to a series of talented guest bloggers while I prepare for the wedding and take a week away with my guy. I hope you’ll take some time and read their posts and share your thoughts, and I”ll look forward to seeing you all again on October 7th. Happy reading.