11 Unconventional Love Stories to Set Your Heart Pitter-Pattering

As many of us have learned over the years, true love doesn’t always turn out the way we thought it would, or show up when we want it to. As we grow and learn to be better givers and receivers of love, these unconventional love stories remind us to be open to romance where we least expect it.

The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion

The protagonist of Graeme Simsion’s romantic comedy THE ROSIE PROJECT is the most refreshingly unique, honest, and hilarious character I have read in a long time. I don’t generally read romantic comedies, but this one stole my heart right from the first paragraph.

Read Sarah Jane Abbott’s review here.

Super Sad True Love Story
by Gary Shteyngart

In the very near future, in a world where the global economy is collapsing and romantic prospects are judged with the click of a button and everyone is obsessed with being young forever (sound familiar?), Lenny Abramov still has the audacity to look for love.

And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

The only thing cute enough to warm my cold New Yorker heart is penguins in love. This illustrated children’s book fictionalizes the true story of two male penguins who became partners and, with the help of a kindly zookeeper, raised Tango, a penguin chick in the Central Park Zoo.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James
by Emma Hooper

This quiet novel moves from the hot and dry present of a quiet Canadian farm to a dusty, burnt past of hunger, war, and passion; from trying to remember to trying to forget. It is an astounding literary debut of unlikely heroes, lifelong promises, and last great adventures.

The First Bad Man
by Miranda July

Sometimes love arrives in the form of a slap in the face that’s just what we needed to get back to reality. When Cheryl, a tightly wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone with a perpetual lump in her throat, meets twenty-one-year-old Clee, her eccentrically ordered world explodes—and she unexpectedly finds the love of a lifetime.

Me Before You
by JoJo Moyes

When two people at their weakest moments meet, the odds of their love persevering are unlikely. But when Lou, who’s just lost her job and is on the rocks with her boyfriend, meets Will, whose recent motorcycle accident has taken away his desire to live, they find the strongest people they’ve ever known—or loved.

Just Kids
by Patti Smith

In JUST KIDS, Patti Smith details the great love story that is her lovers-then-friends relationship with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Taking readers on a journey through New York City, Coney Island, and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies, this is a tender and artful unconventional love story.

Love Is a Mix Tape
by Rob Sheffield

Attention, suitors—I am such a sucker for a Spotify or YouTube playlist. If you are, too, you’ll love the memoir LOVE IS A MIX TAPE. Rob Sheffield brings readers back to the days of tape decks and Nirvana by talking us through the loves and losses he memorialized on fifteen of his favorite mix tapes.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K. Dick

After the World War destroyed most life on earth and most humans have emigrated to Mars, companies begin building incredibly human-like artificial intelligence. It’s so realistic that most people can’t even tell the difference between a “real” human and a “fake.” The relationships and loves that ensue are sure to please fans of science fiction and romance alike.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

Sometimes, our love is affected by forces that we cannot control or predict. Henry suffers from chrono-displacement disorder, meaning his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time. This affliction renders his relationship with his love, Clare, fraught with disappearances that are spontaneous and unpredictable. The resulting love story is intense, moving, and unforgettable.

Brokeback Mountain
by Annie Proulx

This love story is for those who want to get out of the “friend zone.” This is a deeply original and unconventional novel about a friends-then-lovers affair that happens between two ranch hands one summer on the range. The bonus with this is that you can watch the movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger afterward. It’s worth it.