Looking for Love? Try These 5 Books

imagesIt’s Valentine’s Day week and on The Ball we’re paying tribute to the books we love — and in writer speak, that really means the books we wish we had written. As a writer, it’s hard to fall in love with a book and not have a little twinge of jealousy at how good it is. So, if you don’t have plans for Saturday (or even if you do), pick up one of these love stories and let your heart swell and swoon, in turns.

1. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. From the very first line: “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board,” this book begins breaking my heart — not just because the love story is so thoroughly heart-wrenching, but because the writing is so everything writing should be— unexpected, creative and completely spot-on.

2. The Post Birthday World, by Lionel Shriver. I’m a huge Lionel Shriver fan — she nails the minutiae of love, the every day moments that all add up to a long-lasting relationship, for better or for worse. This book explores the path not taken— a woman who has the opportunity to cheat on her steady, predictable boyfriend of 10 years, with an exciting passionate, unstable man. In alternating chapter, Shriver depicts what would happen if she did, and what would happen if she didn’t — and how much our choices really matter when it comes to the fate of our love lives.

3. A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron. Not all love stories are about humans. This entertaining tear-jerker is for anyone who has loved a canine— and been loved back by one. Buy three boxes of Kleenex. You’ll need them.

4. Shopgirl, by Steve Martin. I worship Steve Martin. Seriously. It’s a new religion and you should join. He is an incredibly talented writer, and while I love all of his books, this is the one that I read as a single young woman, a little unclear about what love was really all about. I related with Mirabelle in such a deep way and it’s still shocking to me that Steve Martin had such insight into a girl’s mind.

5. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. If you haven’t read this, go buy it NOW. Seriously. I’ll wait. Did you do it? Now, be prepared to be blown away by one of the most creative love stories EVER WRITTEN. Niffenegger’s genuis is such that she takes an entirely implausible concept and makes you believe. And cry. And then cry some more.

What are you favorite love stories? Tell me in the comments below.

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Colleen Oakley is the author of BEFORE I GO (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, Jan. 2015), a love story. A former editor for Marie Claire and Women's Health & Fitness, she's now an Atlanta-based freelance writer. Find out more at colleenoakley.com.

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