Top Ten Books That Give Me All The Romantic Feels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is All About Romance Tropes/Types, but when I started to make those lists, I realized that I haven’t read any one trope enough to make a good Top Ten list. In place of that, here are ten books whose romances made me laugh, cry, and smile.  

1. Fire by Kristin Cashore

cover fire

This book is so much more than its romance, but damn, its romance breaks my heart every time. I have reread certain scenes over and over, just to suck all of the romantic feels into my soul.

2. The King of Attolia (Queen’s Thief #3) by Megan Whalen Turner

cover king of attolia

This series is not about romance. At all. But no relationship makes my heart feel as much as this book’s romance (and I’m being purposefully vague, by the way).

3. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

cover the scorpio races

God, I love Puck and Sean together so much. This was one of the first slow burn romances I read, and it remains one of my favorites ever.

4. A Company of Swans by Eva Ibboston

cover a company of swans

All of Eva Ibboston’s books broke (and then healed) my heart, but A Company of Swans was by far my favorite. I haven’t read it in years, but its bittersweet romance has stuck with me.

5. Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

cover love and other unknown variables

This book made me sob. I don’t usually read “cancer books,” but the mathematical motifs in this book convinced me to give it a shot. And wow, it was worth it. I loved this book for its humor and for its heartbreak.

6. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

cover the wrath and the dawn

This is one of the only books that I have read that pulls off instalove. Khalid and Shazi’s relationship is inherently instalove, but it is also one of my favorite relationships ever.

7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

cover night circus

Another book that is about so much more than romance, but is still painfully romantic. It has been way too long since I read this incredible novel, but even thinking about these star-crossed lovers makes my heart hurt.

8. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

cover uprooted

I was not prepared for the romance in this book. The first time I read it, it took over my life for forty-eight hours, I shipped the couple so hard. They definitely are not your average, or your perfect, couple, but I still love them to pieces.

9. Going Underground by Susan Vaught

cover going underground

This is one of those books that I can truthfully say changed the way I see the world. It tackles the issue of sexting and “Romeo and Juliet” laws with a stark honesty that ensured it will forever be a favorite. Yet it still has a subtle, gorgeous romance that compliments the societal commentary without overpowering it.

10. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

cover the unexpected everything

I gave this book to my friend to read, and about halfway through, she texted me, “So they really meant the unexpected EVERYTHING.” I don’t know a better way to sum up how surprising and refreshing this book was. On one hand, it is your basic YA contemporary romance, but it was a lot more than that for me.

Have you read any of these books? Which books would you recommend for their heart-wrenching romances?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Importance of Platonic Relationships

So for the day before Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the importance of platonic (instead of romantic) relationships in YA books.

A cornerstone of the YA genre is romance—and I’m fine with that. I love that actually. I love watching pairs of characters go from friends to significant others (or from enemies to SOs…;) ). If I didn’t want to read romance-centered books, I’d probably read a different genre, but YA is my love—which means I’ve signed up for a lot of romance.

But just because a story contains romance doesn’t mean that friendships should be neglected.

I know, I know. That statement isn’t anything new; it’s barely even worth writing. Of course, we all know that friendships help round out series. Basically every book has some kind of “best friend” character to fill this role.

But these best friend characters are often underdeveloped and underutilized. They exist to support the main character, to help the main character achieve their goals, and to create some minor conflicts throughout the book or series. But they couldn’t stand on their own. We don’t really know anything about them besides how they relate to the main character.

Sometimes, of course, these friendships are the BEST—they’re the thing that makes the book come alive for the reader.

awesome friendships pic

And often, we only see friendships with people who are the same gender as the main character. A girl main character will have a male love interest and a female best friend. If another male character is presented, he’s probably a love interest, at least for a bit, before he becomes her friend.

Again, I’m fine with reading books that have this set-up. They’re simple and easy to read and they’ll probably put a smile on my face. But I want more.

I want to see girls have friendships with guys that never dabble in romance. And not because one of them is gay. And not because the guy is “in the friendzone” (ugh I’m puking just writing that disgusting phrase). Not because of unrequited love or because an SO is standing between them.

Because they’re—wait for it—friends.

awesome mf friendships pic

In pop culture today (and basically forever) there is the prevalent idea that “girls and guys can’t just be friends.” There are a lot of problems with this narrative. It promotes a hetero-normative world view by presenting guy-guy and girl-girl relationships and friendships and guy-girl ones as romance. It implies that any girl who crosses the invisible boundary must be a tomboy (and she probably plays sports) because why else would a girl hang out with guys? It suggests that any guy that hangs out with girls (probably in some kind of artsy setting) is gay, because apparently it isn’t “masculine” to be able to talk to girls without flirting.

But most of all, it means that teenagers today have virtually nowhere to look when searching for examples of how to form friendships with other genders.

I’ll be honest—I don’t have very many guy friends. The ones I do have, I’m not very close with. We’ve had classes together for long enough that we’ll hang out at lunch, crack jokes with (and at) each other, and we do the same extracurriculars. We don’t talk about our lives beyond how much homework we have and how little sleep we’ve gotten.

And that kind of sucks. I know that a lot of the reason I don’t have more male friends is my own personality. I’m shy, and I find it about 12,000 times easier to talk to girls than guys. But when I really stop and think about why that is, I realize that the “guys won’t be your friends, just your SO’s” narrative is a big part of it.

When I’m talking to a girl, I feel comfortable seguing from random schoolwork into more meaningful conversations. But when I’m talking to a guy, there’s always a voice in the back of my head, wondering if something I said sounded like flirting (and hoping it didn’t, for the most part), if they’re flirting, if I like them, if they like me….

You get the picture. And it’s a picture I hate.

I’m not saying that I’d be a stunning conversationalist if I’d read more books that showcased male-female friendships. Let’s be honest, I’d still be me. But I’m tired of having that voice in my head reinforced by the thoughts and actions of characters in the books I read.

Again—I love reading romances. I’m not condemning the giggly, accidentally flirtatious trope—I love that trope. But could we have another, platonic character set-up? One that appears often enough to become it’s own trope? Pretty please?

Top Ten Romances I’ll Read To Cheer Me Up

TTT is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is a Valentine’s Day freebie! I haven’t done a lot of TTTs recently, but I liked this topic, and I thought it would be fun to share with you guys my “comfort” reads—the books I turn to when I need to be cheered up, and a sweet romance is exactly what I want.

  1. A Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

cover the summer of chasing mermaids

This book was sweet, moving, and unique. The concept of a voiceless MC was perfectly written. My full review here.

2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

cover the scorpio races

Just thinking about Sean and Puck’s romance makes me swoon a little. They are seriously perfect for each other, and the rest of the book is impeccable too. My full review here.

3. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie Westcover the fill in boyfriend

This is a cute and funny story guaranteed to put a smile on my face. My full review here.

4. Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreundcover across a star swept sea

A compelling fantasy-dystopian with a touching—but hilarious—romance. My full review here.

5. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Allie Carter
cover gg 1

Or really anything by Allie Carter. My full series review here.

6. Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
cover ten things we did

This book surprised me with how emotional it made me, and how many times it got me to laugh out loud. Honestly, so much fun to read. My full review here.

7. Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

cover peace love and baby ducks

This book is an old favorite. It’s impressive contemporary that captures the struggles of frustrating parents and high school drama without going overboard.

8. Angel Burn by LA Weatherly

Technically, this is the first book in an intense paranormal series, but the romance, especially in the first book, is smile-inducing. Their relationship is honest and interesting, and I love seeing the moments as they slowly fall for each other (while saving each other’s lives).

9. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

cover king of attolia

Okay, so this definitely isn’t a romance. And it’s the third book in the series. But there are certain scenes in this book that are so freaking romantic that I die a bit thinking about them.

10. Going Underground by Susan Vaught

cover going underground

Del and Livia falling in love is one of the sweetest (and most bittersweet) stories I’ve ever read. With a heavy dose of social commentary, this book is an all-time favorite. My full review here.

So there are my favorite pick-me-up romances! What about you? Do we share any favorites? What should I read the next time I need to be cheered up?