As some of my readers who know me or follow me on Instagram already know, I recently got engaged! To celebrate my engagement, I want to share with you my favourite books on love.
Anna Karenina by Lev Tolstoy
As I wrote before, I love Anna Karenina, but especially because of Levin. The romance between Levin and Kitty is so pure and selfless, it fits all my ideas about what love should be. And even though I like this part of the story a lot, I also like that not everything revolves around it. Levin still has a life outside of Kitty and that is important as well.
Extaze by Louis Couperus
Extaze is a small love story about a widow and an old bachelor. They fall in love and even though they really care about each other , it just doesn’t work out. I like this because it’s okay that not every love story works out but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a beautiful story. The two characters still respect each other so much and I think it is necessary that these kinds of love stories are represented as well.
Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov
Oblomov might not be seen as a love story, but Olga and Stolz are one of my favourite couples in world literature. I love how they challenge each other to always be the best they can be. They saw in Oblomov what happens if you don’t aim for this, and they are desperate not to become like him. It makes their love full of support for everything the other person needs to do.
All about love by bell hooks
In this book bell hooks reflects on how we think about love, and she provides her readers with a really empowering definition. She claims that within love, it is not possible to hurt each other. This way, she undermines toxic or abusive behaviour that are defended by lines like “it’s okay, because they love me”. In those kinds of relationships, she argues, there may be talk of affection, but not love. This narrower definition made me re-evaluate many relationships in my life and it gave me more confidence in them as well.
Ulysses by James Joyce
Ulysses is not always thought of as a love story (it’s mostly just thought of as “difficult”) but the relationship between Leopold and Molly is a huge part of it. During the day, Leopold keeps thinking about her, caring about her with small acts of tenderness. And even though Molly cheats on Leopold, she ends the book remembering how much she loves Leopold. Ulysses might not be about the big romantic gestures, but it is about the small things we do because we care about people.
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
The Passion is about love that transcends all kinds of bounderies, of countries, class and gender. The characters Winterson shows can’t be defined but their difficult place in society never keeps them from passionately loving the people they care about. They are willing to sacrifice anything for their loved ones and although that might not always be the healthy way to act, it is beautiful.