The 5 Most Romantic Books

In celebration of Valentine's day wOw asked book maven, Roxanne Coady to tell us the most romantic books she's ever read. Here are her recommendations:

1. My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro, edited by Jeffrey Eugenides, is about the complexities of love - betrayal, lost love, lost opportunities, heartbreak - as well as the more joyful aspects that we celebrate on Valentine's Day. Looking back on 40 years of marriage, I know I'm lucky to see a preponderance of happiness marking those years, but if I drew them as a bar graph I'd have to include the ups and downs that we also experienced. I think that's true with most couples, and it's why I don't favor love stories about boys and girls (or men and women) who fall in love and live happily ever after. This book really delivers.

How would you define intimacy?

2. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov. This may trouble some people, so let me explain. A few years ago I re-read Lolita and I was struck by how it made me reflect on the dimensions of love, not just the story of an older man seducing a young girl. Maybe it was the distance of so many years - I first read the novel as a young woman - but my reaction in later life was completely different. Give it a try and let me know what you think. In essence this is a book about what love means to people, and that's why it's such a great discussion book. Here's an idea: Host a couple's book club and invite your closest friends. You'll be amazed at what happens. Ours was among the liveliest book group meetings I've ever had.

3 & 4. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Lover, by Marguerite Duras. Both of these novels are set in foreign lands - the Marquez in South America and the Duras in Indochina - and each has that wonderful quality of magical realism. When I think about these books I can perfectly imagine the lushness of the settings in each. What I love about them is the physical atmosphere they conjure and how the richness of the writing adds to the sensuality of the relationships they describe.

"Valentine's Day is About Paying Attention to Each Other"

Silk, by Alessandro Baricco. This is a lyrical, sensual novella that's set in 1861 in Japan and France. It's the best read-aloud book I can think of, and what could be more fun than curling up with your Valentine and reading to each other? There's something so old-fashioned and lovely about reading aloud, and also something so unselfish. A nice bottle of wine won't hurt either.

The Love Goddess Answers Your Questions

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