There’s no shortage of books about the kind of passionate romances that cause women to go mad, men to embark on quests, and couples to cross heaven and earth to make out in the rain and live happily ever after. Love stories are an eternal favorite because of all the strong, satisfying, and generally warm and fuzzy feelings one gets from reading them. But the feelings one gets from real-life intense relationships are actually quite different. These 7 books are not only great, satisfying reads, but they show that making out in the rain is not a prerequisite for a great, satisfying love story.
Novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer’s memoir contains a wonderful description of the chronic conflict between his mother—a sensible rationalist—and his father—a somewhat superstitious and romantic rabbi. What’s fascinating is the way their conflict, while never resolved, makes their partnership more lively, demonstrating that successful partnerships don’t always have to be peaceful ones.
This novel’s title is also the term for the archetypal character in opera whose role is to share exposition and advance the plot; he has no romantic counterpart and his part is small, but without him, the story does not advance and the romantic leads never get together. Over the course of this sweeping novel, the protagonist recalls his life story, spent more as an observer than a hero or a villain, but which was still a vibrant, rewarding, and worthwhile experience. Sometimes the best lesson a book can teach about relationships is that a life without a great romance can be worth living.