Presenting 10 swoony, melty, make-you-fizz-like-Prosecco stories, to have and to hold, on this day forward, until you read the last page (but still cherish them forever, til death do you part.)
Valentine’s Day may not be your cup of heart-feathered cappuccino, but it’s a darn good excuse to read. For one thing, it’s deep winter and even me–a certifiable winter nut–is starting to be over the sound of crunching snow and the fact that the patio looks like it recently endured an avalanche. So what do bookish kindred spirits do when they are longing for spring? They read.
So no matter what your situation this Valentine’s season, it’s always a perfect time to crack open a good book and lose yourself to another world.
To my single friends–don’t think that just because you haven’t found your Jack Pearson yet, this blog is not for you. It really, totally is. May I suggest “The Music Shop” by Rachel Joyce, or “I Capture the Castle,” by “101 Dalmations” author Dodie Smith? Both of these feature love stories, true, but they are unconventional love stories, and will make you smile. Hey, reading helps, no matter your Facebook relationship status.
This Book Crush list features something old (“The Blue Castle” is like GELATO), something new (“By the Book” looks amazing, and was just released on February 6), something borrowed (a reload of “Little Women”, “When Harry Met Sally”, And “Persuasion”), and something blue (“Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” will provide some “tissue moments,” as “This is Us” fans call all the tearful twinklings).
Once again, I will be doing a contest, because contests are fun and I like fun. Peruse this list, pick your favorite, and tell us why you’d like to win it in the comments for a chance to win. In my December Winter Book Crush contest, Amalie won her pick: “Library at the Edge of the World”!
Which book would you pick if you won?
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
“This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met,” said J.K. Rowling
An aspiring young author named Cassandra lives in a crumbling castle with her ever-poorer family.”Castle” is utterly delicious and not widely known. It was introduced to me about nine or ten years ago by a dear friend, who said, “This book is like ice cream.” Cassandra is charismatic, J.K. is so right about that. And so are her family members, the two rich American boys who come to town (Darcy and Bingley, reversed?), and the castle itself, with its moat and ancient nooks and crannies. Treat yourself–you won’t be sorry.
By the Book by Julia Sonneborn
Isn’t this cover just a ripe morsel of a thing? The premise is even juicier: A reload of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion,” with, Booklist raves, “lots of appealing, cozy details, old college architecture, a romantic rival (who’s really more of a Wickham, but whatever)…lots and lots of libraries …” Sounds luscious to me.
This Love Story Will Self Destruct by Leslie Cohen
Another reload, but this one references a much newer story: “When Harry Met Sally.” “Meet Eve,” the blurb reads. “She’s a dreamer, a feeler, a careening well of sensitivities…a laugher, a crier, a quirky and quick-witted bleeding heart worrier.” Sweet Molasses! It’s like Leslie Cohen has drones inside my head! Even cooler: David Duchovny compares Cohen to a “young Nora Ephron.” ( Fair warning for my conservative readers–if this were a movie it would be rated R for language etc.)
The Spring Girls by Anna Todd
As a Cover Snob, I must gush about this convivial jacket featuring my favorite color combination–red and aqua! Even Jacob, the taciturn poet who works at my best-loved indie bookstore had to agree–this cover makes one woozy with joy (not that he used the words “woozy with joy”). Here is a modern retelling of “Little Women,” with Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy living on a military base with their mother while their dad serves in Iraq. I’m dying to find out how Anna Todd modernizes Teddy and Professor Bhaer, aren’t you?
The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Written by Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Blue Castle is one of literature’s most hidden gems. I honestly don’t know how I would choose if forced to pick between Anne and The Blue Castle, I love it so. Valancy Stirling is a 29-year-old “old maid” who has never had a man so much as waggle his eyebrows at her. Her overbearing family is driving her nuts, and then she gets the news that she’s dying. As a last-ditch effort at living life while she can, V flings herself at Barney, the town scalawag, and proposes marriage, wherein the two town misfits make off for an island in the Ontario woods. Their love story will give you all the flutters, I promise. If “I Capture the Castle” is ice cream, this delectable story is artisanal gelato.
P.S. From Paris by Marc Levy
“From Marc Levy, the most-read French author alive today, comes a modern-day love story between a famous actress hiding in Paris and a bestselling writer lying to himself. They knew their friendship was going to be complicated, but love–and the City of Lights–just might find a way.” Ooh la la–this sounds a bit like “Notting Hill,” but set in Paris.
The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
I cozied right up to the title of this book, translated from Spanish into English and written by a first-time novelist from Spain. I love the idea of someone awakening—what a powerful word—and Prudencia Prim? Isn’t that a character name to swoon over? Miss Prim moves to a tiny, old-fashioned village in Spain to become the private librarian of a mysterious, cultivated man who sits in a wing chair. “There are a large number of nods and literary references in the novel because literature plays a major role in the book,” says the author. “The characters in the book speak about Jane Austen, but also about Dostoyevsky, Dante, Virgil, Schiller, Racine and Petrarch, among others.” I picked this for my Book Crush list before I knew that The Man in the Wingchair is reportedly a mix of C.S. Lewis and Mr. Knightly from “Emma”!
Do people still say ‘yes, please?’ I just did.
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
This was one of my first reads of 2018, and I predict it will stand as one of my favorites of the year. Warm-hearted, quirky, British, set in the 1980’s—what exactly is not to like? The romance between two lost souls, one a purveyor of a music shop and one an accidental customer, is gentle, funny and captivating. You will cheer for shaggy, dented Frank and dear Ilse with her mysterious gloves and her green coat. I didn’t want to let them go when the book ended.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
One of my all-time favorite swoony reads, captivating the reader with the love and friendship between Henry Lee, a Chinese-American boy, and Keiko Okabe, a Japanese American girl, during the internment in World War II. “A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever,” raved Garth Stein, while Lisa See said Ford explores “the depths and longing of deep-heart love.” I wouldn’t be overstating it to say this story will sweep you away.
Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani
I will never forget the night I met Adriana Trigiani in New York City. We were both nominated for a 2012 Audie Award for Best Audiobook, “Personal Development”, a category wherein Oprah and Queen Latifah have won. I got the shock of my life to be nominated for “Money Secrets of the Amish,” against Sarah Brokaw, JANE FONDA, and Adriana, whom I absolutely revered then and now. Jane won, to no one’s surprise. I was just pinching myself that I was there at all, and the cocoa dusting on top of the cannoli was that Adriana was so kind and friendly to me, even offering to go out with me if I was still in town the next day (I had to fly out at the crack of dawn—BUMMER). That woman is a walking oven of warmth, you guys. And she infuses that same personal affection, cordiality, and humor into all her books, including “Kiss Carlo.” Now, isn’t that a book cover made for Valentine’s Day? Inside the covers, there’s pasta, banter, and crackling chemistry between the two leads, Nicky and Calla. You’ll be moonstruck, and also crave a bowl of rigatoni with chicken and ricotta really, really bad.
Tell me, which one of these books beguiles you like chocolate and red tulips?
And why? We all want to know WHY.
Spill all your innermost thoughts in the comments below and be eligible to win your favorite!
MORE BOOK CRUSHES: Premise Crush: 11 Falls Books That Had Me at Hello Winter Book Crush: Cozy Up to 10 Hot Cocoa Reads
Jennifer Hall says
My favorite of these is The Spring Girls because I love Little Women. I also love the cover.
Isn’t it a luscious cover? One of the prettiest I have seen.
Probably By the Book—because I love Jane Austen and this cover is divine!
Right? A smashing cover!
I love The Awakening of Miss Prim. It goes so much deeper then your average love story! I feel like I could reread it at least once a year!
I am most excited to read this one, I think. It sounds terrific and so enlightening!
Ruth Willson says
A few years ago I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It was a very enjoyable read and your’re right….tissues may be needed. I’m beguiled by P.S. From Paris(along with the idea of chocolate and flowers!) I think I’m drawn to this because Paris is a very romantic city and it’s that time of year for romance. It’s going on my reading to do list.
C’est magnifique! I can’t wait to dive into this one, too!
Christine Heimburg says
This is a gorgeous group of books! So hard to choose. I’ve read and loved a few of these (I Capture the Castle, The Music Shop, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Kiss Carlo), and I’d love to read most of the others. Such a hard decision! I think I’ll go with The Blue Castle as I’ve been hearing such wonderful things about it. Thanks for sharing this list and for the chance to win!
Oh, the Blue Castle is everything you’ve always dreamed of, I promise! 🙂
Carol (Reading Ladies) says
Great list! I’ve read and loved Capture the Castle, Blue Castle, and Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet…..but I’d LOVE to read Music Shop (Because Love and Music!) and it’s at the top of my TBR!
Hey Reading Ladies! You will love The Music Shop!
I’d love to read “By the Book.” It looks so good, and my library doesn’t have it.
Good luck, Library Megan! 🙂
This is a tough one because a few of these are on my TBR. Music Shop or this Love Story Will Self Destruct are on the top of my list.
I read and adored the Music Shop. Such warmly wrought characters!
I loved Miss Prim!! This was a great list, I’ve read several of these and really loved them! I need The Spring Girls! Little Women and Little Men are some of my favorite books ever!
I’m so glad you can endorse Miss Prim! I don’t know how it escaped my notice for years!
It would have to be either By the Book or I Capture the Castle. I’m a sucker for anything similar to Jane Austen!
Out of those two, I would say I Capture the Castle, just because it is such a hidden gem and so extraordinary!
Courtney Birnbaum says
I’ve been wanting to read “I Capture the Castle” for so long, so I’m leaving it at the top of my to-read list (and then hurriedly scribbling in the names of all these other books, including a Blue Castle re-read hehe!)
Oh my gosh, both “Castle” books will captivate you!
Jana G. says
“Little Women,” is my all-time favorite book, so “The Spring Girls” would be my pick. I’m also a sucker for anything with literary references, and need to add “By the Book” and “The Awakening of Miss Prim” to my TBR list. What a wonderful story about Adriana! I will have to add “Kiss Carlo,” as well.
Hey garage sale friend! You have some good picks, there. Good luck and we’ll see you around the hood!
my to-read list on goodreads just increased rapidly. So many lovely sounding books! This Love Story Will Self Destruct intrigued me the most– Eve sounds so much like me, and a young Nora Ephron? YES PLEASE.
The Awakening of Miss Prim sounds lovely too, and the cover is lovely!!
Eve sounds like me, too! Ergo, you and I must be kindred spirits! 🙂
They all look absolutely wonderful! I’m thinking Spring Girls has my attention the most because, Little Women, of course. Plus, that cover has me swooning!!
Super swoony cover–I agree!
Dawn Frank says
I would love to read By the Book! Big Austen fan and it would be interesting to read this take on ot
Yup, what a great premise, eh?
Such a fabulous set of books to choose from! I’m going to go for By The Book as I feel I ought to stay true to Austen as Bath is my home town!
Wow! Bath is your hometown? That is very cool!
“I Capture The Castle” sounds so, so good! How I have I never before seen this book?!? It’s moving immediately to the top of my TBR. And “By The Book” has been one of my best reads of 2018!
Hey Tracey Turns the Page!
Thank you for putting By the Book on my radar! And yes, by the way, you absolutely need to read “I Capture the Castle”!
Oh my goodness, there are SO many good options in here!! I have to choose The Spring Girls as my top pick though, Little Women has such a special place in my heart.
The Spring Girls and By the Book for the tie! I myself can’t wait to read TSG.
The Music Shop looks amazing and since you loved it I want to read it!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Definitely The Spring Girls! Love the play on the March sisters and it sounds delightful. This year is full of Little Women retellings!
Are you referring to “The Other Alcott”? Wouldn’t it be fabulous to read that as a companion to The Spring Girls?
That too, but I was actually thinking of the new tv miniseries! The one that aired on bbc last year and will be on pbs this spring! There is a new movie being made too.
Jennifer Hall says
I’m looking forward to the miniseries. I didn’t know about the movie. I loved The Other Alcott.
I also want to read The Spring Girls.
Linda Mikesell says
Thank you for offering another list of books to read. I enjoyed several titles from you last list. I would like to read. “P.S From Paris”. Reading a male author book intrigues me. Also I’m reading about French culture right now and it might fit in nicely.
I am so glad you have been turned on to some good books! I always find that a book translated into English is written in a different way using different expressions, which opens up new nuances to things. I enjoy it!
Can I really add more books to my TBR list?? Yes, please! What a fun list, Lorilee! I’ve only read one of them (Hotel on the Corner — it’s one of my favorites), and so many of these sound delightful, so I’m adding all of them because you made all of them sound fun. But I’m going to pick The Music Shop for my winner because of three words — shaggy, quirky, British. And I absolutely loved Harold Fry.
Oh my gosh–you are going to ADORE The Music Shop!
Such great choices – it makes choosing one difficult! I adore The Blue Castle, but a different edition is already on my reread shelf, so I would probably choose “By The Book” since Persuasion is my favorite Austen. But then again, “The Awakening of Miss Prim” does sound good…
By the Book and Miss Prim are worthy choices, but which one will you pick, Yvette Bookworlder?:)
Thinking about it again, I would choose Miss Prim. I just have a feeling, from the description, that it will appeal to me somewhat in the vein of perennial favorites The Blue Castle, Persuasion, and The Enchanted April.
Ah how can I pick just one? Persuasion is my favorite JA, so I have to go with By the Book! Although I’m quite intrigued by The Spring Girls as well!
What do you love about “Persuasion”? I have never read it but many here are saying it is their favorite!
Nida Javeed says
Music Shop is on my TBR, I’ve been wanting to read it for so long but my library hold list is never ending!!
Good luck, Nida! I hope you either win or your library hold list clears up! 🙂
Ashley Hendrickson says
I know I’ve mentioned this a few times already but Little Women is and will always be my favorite novel. I think finding a character that I connect with as much as I have with Jo March, is truly magical, unexplainable really.
So I think I would pick Spring Girls, I think hearing a different perspective of the family I love so much would be great!
Jo March is everything a heroine should be! I love her, too. But sounds like you have a soul connection!
Jeannie Prinsen says
I would love to win I Capture the Castle because I don’t own a copy, though I have read it and loved it (as did my teenage daughter – we also watched the movie together). I think of Cassandra as a cross between Emma and Anne of Green Gables. She is a wonderful heroine.
Jeannie, what a golden insight: Cassandra is a cross between Emma and Anne of Green Gables!
I would love to read The Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet! It’s been on my TBR for ages; I find the title captivating!! And I’m always a sucker for WWII stories.
I am too! I think the title is simply one of the best, ever!
Erika Russell says
PS From Paris sounds amazing!!!
The Spring Girls. I’ve been wanting to reread Little Women, this could be a fun way to do it!
It would be fun to read them as companion books, wouldn’t it?
As so many others said before me, this post just increased my TBR list! I already own three of the books, but one I have regrets on missing out on is The Music Shop. My formative years were the eighties when I was (and still am) music- and drama-obsessed. Thanks for the ideas.
Sounds like “the Music Shop” is perfect for you, Natalie!
By the Book and Spring Girls look adorable. I have read I Capture the Castle and The Blue Castle…loved them.
Yes, aren’t they both gems?
Pauline Reid says
I am drawn to The Spring Girls, because I love book covers and this is so warm and inviting, although I haven’t read Little Women yet (I’m due to read it very shortly though) I am very intrigued to compare the two.
Yes, doesn’t The Spring Girls have a lovely cover?
The Spring Girls because Little Women is my favorite book and I love any chance to revisit the March sisters.
You must be excited about the new PBS miniseries! Just posted the preview on my Facebook author page!
Jennifer Hall says
I’m excited about the PBS miniseries.
Oh my goodness Lorilee! What a fantastic list! There are four that I would love to win, but if I had to narrow it down to one I would probably choose ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith. I have been very keen to read this one for quite a while now – and it would help me continue my streak of reading books with the word ‘castle’ in the title! Crumbling castles and hidden nooks and crannies sounds right up my alley!! I think the clincher though is when you mentioned that your friend likened this book to ice cream! Decision made!!!
I know–I feel the same way about nooks, crannies, and ice cream! I am going to reread this one next.
I loved Miss Prim! I’d probably pick By the Book… um libraries and Austen. Enough said.
Great pick! Yes, what’s not to love about the premise of By the Book?
Cheryl V. says
Hard choice!! I think I would say By the Book. It sounds right up my alley. I love books about Books.
Books about books are the best!
Caitlin D. says
I’ve been dying to read I Capture the Castle! Always ready for a magical story.
And it IS magical! 🙂
What a tempting list! I think my first choice would be Spring Girls because of how beloved Little Women has become to me. A modern take on it sounds so interesting. But The Blue Castle sounds fun too!
Oh, you have to read The Blue Castle, Valerie! THEN you can read The Spring Girls!
Most of those books are on my TBR list so, any would be fabulous! But, the one that fascinates me the most is The Blue Castle. I LOVE Anne of Green Gables and LM Montgomery’s writing.
Great choice! This is a hidden gem and you will adore it!
The Blue Castle! The premise sounds wonderful and divine.
And the book is wonderful and divine!
So many of these look good! I’m always intrigued by modern retellings, but a little scared also—sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t! But I think I would want to give The Spring Girls a try based on that beautiful cover alone. 🙂
You’re absolutely right about modern retellings!
Such a wonderful list! I haven’t read any of them, and they all sound great, but The Awakening of Miss Prim sounds extremely delightful.
And wouldn’t it be nice to be extremely delighted? 🙂
MaryBeth Lipman says
I would love to read The Music Shop. I love books set in London – my favorite city – and I believe music has a power to bring people together. Thanks so much for this!
I think you will love it!
Leigh-Anne Fitzgerald says
I would love to read The Music Shop! 1980’s + England + music….it’s a faux punk rockers dream! : ) Besides books, music is my jam (see what I did there). I can hear a song and memories come flooding back!
I’m the same! We just went to see Styx, REO and Don Fleder of the Eagles last night. I was in Heaven!
Spring Girls because I LOOOOVE Little Women!!
Is it your favorite? It’s my #2, probably, next to AOGG!
Kelly M says
The Spring Girls sounds great!
Doesn’t it? What a grand premise!
Rushaunda Diaz says
This is such a hard because I’d love to read them all, but I’d have to go with P.S From Paris because it’s my favorite city in the world because of its romantic premise. Also, the cover is eye-catching
I think it looks amazing, too!
I’m gonna go with “This Love Story Will Self-Destruct” because I like a love story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is why Nora Ephron was so amazing. Sign me up for that one, please. Also the rest as well. Thank you.