Today I noticed that Goodreads has declared this to be “Romance Week” so I followed their links to a page naming the Top 100 Romance Novels on Goodreads. I don’t normally read romance novels, so out of 100 novels named, I’ve read only 7 of them, and of those, 4 were classics.
Here are the seven romance novels I’ve read out of the top 100, chosen by the Goodreads readers and staff:
1. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
This novel was seriously one of my best reading experiences ever, and I didn’t want it to ever end. Unfortunately it did. That’s the tragedy of this book, well, aside from that much greater tragedy called the Civil War. The Civil War was so barbarous and uncivil, I don’t know why we should call it the Civil War, but life is what it is.
The book is so much better than the movie! The movie only glosses over the main points in the book. The book is broader, grander, more in-depth, and more detailed. In the novel we are swept into the drama of Scarlett O’Hara’s wild and emotional life in the South before and during the Civil War. Together with this impetuous, self-centered and flawed character we experience disappointments, opulence and tragedies on a scale most of us have never seen.
If I ever get back to the East Coast, I definitely want to stop in Atlanta to tour the Margaret Mitchell house. That’s one of the greatest attractions of the East Coast, for me. Just to walk in the rooms where that humble author fashioned her wonderful story for years, and years, would be inspiring. Do you agree?
This was #36 out of 100 novels on the list.
2. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
What took me so long to read this amazing classic novel? I finally got to it for the 2016 PopSugar Reading Challenge prompt #17: to read a book at least 100 years old.
Well, what a treasure I’d waited so long for! Jane Eyre, a hopeless, emotionally abused, and unloved orphan, was hired out as a governess because nobody wanted her. At her new place of employment, an imposing mansion, she was swept into a world of despair, hope, love, and horror as her life evolved in ways she never expected. The trials and tortures of her childhood gave way to the fully-lived life of a young adult trying to survive in rural England.
I love Jane Eyre because it gives hope to the hopeless. For all those who feel set aside, unloved, not cared for, and abandoned, this sweet, precious character shows that a life of right thinking and kind living can lead to amazing good fortune and great love. Throughout it all, nothing is ever perfect, but that’s so much just like life. Recommended, for whoever hasn’t read it yet.
This was #43 out of 100 novels on the list.
3. A Knight in Shining Armor, by Jude Deveraux
While looking through the list of the Top 100 Romance Novels at Goodreads, I came across this title, and realized I’d never reviewed it there, so I took care of that right away. Here’s my Goodreads review.
I think I read this around 2011 (just a guess, really, it was so long ago) and I’m not sure how the paperback novel happened to be in my home. I could have checked it out of the Happy Camp branch of the Siskiyou County Library system, or maybe I bought it at a book sale. I just don’t know. But I do remember enjoying the novel.
It was a fun, quick reading experience and there was nothing I’d consider objectionable (I don’t like books with superfluous sex scenes) so I’ll recommend this book along with the others, ie: the classics I love. I would even be willing to read another Jude Deveraux novel in case any happened to mysteriously end up in my home.
This was #47 out of 100 novels on the list.
4. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden
I’m pretty sure I checked this novel out of the Happy Camp Library. I shelved it at Goodreads back in 2012 without writing a review. I must write a review of this one – I’m at 99 reviews right now. Just one more!! Then 100. However, my memory of this book is sketchy. I remember a young girl being dumped off (or was she kidnapped) at a place where geishas lived and trained children to become geishas.
She must have been a good learner and a pretty girl, because she became one of the best geishas, or so I remember it. But like I said, my memory of this novel is sketchy and I think I read it long before I shelved it in 2012. Probably, I listened to an audiobook version while out walking in Happy Camp around 2004. Back then I used to walk three miles a day while listening to audiobooks.
Even worse, I think I might have listened to an abridged audiobook version, so I’d like to put this book on my TBR again one of these years to read the entire book in Kindle format. I really dislike abridged audiobooks… and I don’t know if the version I listened to was abridged, but I think it may have been. In which case, did I really ever read (or listen to) this book? Well, I’ve got some ideas of what it is, and if I ever do a Rereadathon at Booktube or anything like that, this book should be on the list.
Beautiful imagery . . . and so strange, this is apparently the only novel Arthur Golden had published. Maybe one was enough.
This was #54 out of 100 novels on the list.
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
I didn’t read Pride and Prejudice until just last year. That’s right. I went through almost my entire life until I was 65 years old, before reading this amazing, much-loved classic romance novel. Little did I know that this is the romance novel to top all romance novels.
Far from being a light-weight simpering, coy or coquettish YA romance novel, it turns out that Pride and Prejudice is deep, comprehensive, philosophical, and amazing. Jane Austen had a talent for getting to the root of the problems each of the characters experienced. She showed what they were below the surface, and there were some painful moments of truth before we could get to the end of this novel.
Seriously, if Pride and Prejudice were offered to teens in high school, it would help many young women (and young men perhaps, too) to have higher self-esteem and better morals, because they’d understand so much more about relationships, psychology, and human interactions of all kinds. I can’t say enough in praise of this outstanding book. I wish I’d read it fifty years ago.
This was #73 out of 100 novels on the list.
6. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
Thanks to the PopSugar Reading Challenge during the past few years I’ve read three of Jane Austen’s novels. This novel, Sense and Sensibility, I just read last month. It is a wonderful story about two young sisters of marriageable age (older teenagers) who were meeting and becoming attached to young men with varying degrees of relationship satisfaction. I have one more Jane Austen novel on my TBR list for 2019, and then I’ll still have a few more of her novels to read. I’m so glad to be going on this Austen journey!
I really enjoyed Sense and Sensibility. The two sisters were well-developed characters, one being more headstrong and wild, while the other was more conservative, quiet and patient. They both had heartbreaks but they each handled their emotions very differently. All the time, however, they maintained a great love for each other and for the others in their immediate family. They set a good example for young people experiencing relationship ups and downs.
Because Austen’s characters are such a great example for even the most modern of women, I can only hope that young women will be exposed to these novels early on – and not just in movie form. Though the movies are usually awesome, there’s something special about spending the week learning the inner thoughts of characters. A week with a novel is so much more impactful than two hours with a movie!
This was #82 out of 100 novels on the list.
7. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
It has been a long, long time since I read The Thorn Birds. I think I read this a few years after it was published. It was published in 1977 when I was 25, so I was still a young adult (younger than 30) when I read it. That was about 35 years ago, so what can I remember about this book without reading the reviews at Goodreads?
Well, it took place in Australia. The main characters were a young, very young and lovely woman, and a man about twenty or thirty years older. It was love. Deep love. Intense love. Truly, a memorable romance, though after 35 years, I’ve forgotten a lot of the details.
Of course, being in love with a man is always a serious problem. It is dangerous to be that vulnerable. Still, young women do it all the time. They just can’t help having that hope for true love and marriage. This book is really a wonderful reading experience that, if you like romance, I hope you will explore.
This was #90 out of 100 novels on the list.
And now . . . the BONUS round!
I’m going to show a few more books on the list of the Top 100 Romance Novels at Goodreads. These are books I haven’t read yet. After looking at the list, I’m interested in reading them. I’ve decided to put the book cover photos here so that I’ll remember them, for a future time.
Even though romance novels aren’t my main interest, I do like reading them once in a while. These books attract me for different reasons. The covers. The titles. Well, here they are.
First, here’s a romance novel I’m already planning to read this year as I chose it for prompt #17 on the 2019 PopSugar Reading Challenge. (A book set on a college or university campus.)
This was #64 out of 100 novels on the list.
Now, look at these novels… beautiful covers! They look like my kind of romance novels. I’m putting the covers here to remind myself to read them.
Image credits: The love photo came from Pixabay.com and I’ve added quotes and enhanced it in Paint Shop Pro, my graphics program of choice. . . . . the book covers come from Amazon.com.
I’ve read all but two of the ones you have. Like you I read them so many years ago it’s hard to remember them. I do intend to read Memoirs of a Geisha someday. I had never heard of A Knight in Shining Armor. Maybe I’ll look for it at the library one of these days, though I have enough on hand to read for the rest of my life already. Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll have a look at that list to find out if I’ve read any of the ones you haven’t.
LJ Martin says
Hi Barbara! I was surprised that A Knight in Shining Armor was on the list, but then, there were a lot of novels there that I would never want to read.