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31 Books That Portray Love In A Realistic Way

Because sometimes, love is messy, crazy, confusing, and wonderful – sometimes all at the same time.

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We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community for book recommendations with realistic love stories. Their responses were heartbreaking, touching, and might just make you believe in true love.

1. This Love Story Will Self Destruct by Leslie Cohen

I had seen some comparisons to When Harry Met Sally (a movie I still really, really love). I have to say, this book really is like a modern day take on a Nora Ephron story and it didn't disappoint. It was just so realistic. —whatexistsGet it from Amazon for $11, Barnes & Noble for $11.56, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.
Simon & Schuster

I had seen some comparisons to When Harry Met Sally (a movie I still really, really love). I have to say, this book really is like a modern day take on a Nora Ephron story and it didn't disappoint. It was just so realistic. —whatexists

Get it from Amazon for $11, Barnes & Noble for $11.56, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

2. Call Me By Your Name by Andrè Aciman

The first time I read Call me By Your Name, it reminded me of the first time I ever had a romantic relationship with another individual, who was a male (as am I) and 25 years old, when I was 17 — but he didn’t know my real age. It was the most nostalgic piece of literature I’ve ever read because it took me back to the first time I ever felt romantic love for another individual. The heartbreak in the text was the most realistic and relatable thing I’ve ever read. —edgarg4462e39a0Get it from Amazon for $10.20, Barnes & Noble for $12.12, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.
Macmillan

The first time I read Call me By Your Name, it reminded me of the first time I ever had a romantic relationship with another individual, who was a male (as am I) and 25 years old, when I was 17 — but he didn’t know my real age. It was the most nostalgic piece of literature I’ve ever read because it took me back to the first time I ever felt romantic love for another individual. The heartbreak in the text was the most realistic and relatable thing I’ve ever read. —edgarg4462e39a0

Get it from Amazon for $10.20, Barnes & Noble for $12.12, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

It's one of those classics that proves there are different types of love, like love which can make people be destructive. I think that sometimes classics get it wrong or are too romanticized, but Wuthering Heights was the first classic novel to be real with their story and their characters. —ScarletRubieGet it from Amazon for $4.95, Barnes & Noble for $5.96, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.
Bantam Classics

It's one of those classics that proves there are different types of love, like love which can make people be destructive. I think that sometimes classics get it wrong or are too romanticized, but Wuthering Heights was the first classic novel to be real with their story and their characters. —ScarletRubie

Get it from Amazon for $4.95, Barnes & Noble for $5.96, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

4. Forever.... by Judy Blume

Like all of Judy Blume's books, Forever is so honest and realistic in its portrayal of young love. Katherine is such a relatable character and her experiences with Michael and her other love interests in the book are so awkward and spot-on. Love doesn't always last forever, but that doesn't make it any less meaningful and influential to the people we become. —shannonh4e2f36baa[Editor's note: You can get more of Judy's extremely relatable advice on life and love here.]Get it from Amazon for $8.95, Barnes & Noble for $8.99, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.
Simon & Schuster

Like all of Judy Blume's books, Forever is so honest and realistic in its portrayal of young love. Katherine is such a relatable character and her experiences with Michael and her other love interests in the book are so awkward and spot-on. Love doesn't always last forever, but that doesn't make it any less meaningful and influential to the people we become.shannonh4e2f36baa

[Editor's note: You can get more of Judy's extremely relatable advice on life and love here.]

Get it from Amazon for $8.95, Barnes & Noble for $8.99, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

5. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

It's a fantasy, but the way the love story is handled is so realistic! It isn't rushed like a lot of romances and each character is able to take their time to come to terms with their feelings for the other and the implications that those feelings will have on their life. I think it's wonderful. —samanthad44ea8902bGet it from Amazon for $5.38, Barnes & Noble for $9.81, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.
Bloomsbury

It's a fantasy, but the way the love story is handled is so realistic! It isn't rushed like a lot of romances and each character is able to take their time to come to terms with their feelings for the other and the implications that those feelings will have on their life. I think it's wonderful. —samanthad44ea8902b

Get it from Amazon for $5.38, Barnes & Noble for $9.81, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

An LGBT Mexican-American coming-of-age story with beautiful language and a moving story. YESSSS! —chrisjayGet it from Amazon for $7.78, Barnes & Noble for $8.81, or a local bookstore through Indiebound here.
Simon & Schuster

An LGBT Mexican-American coming-of-age story with beautiful language and a moving story. YESSSS!chrisjay

Get it from Amazon for $7.78, Barnes & Noble for $8.81, or a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

7. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

I remember reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and literally feeling like the author went through my most heartbreaking memories with my ex and placed them into a book. —melanconGet it from Amazon for $7.58, Barnes & Noble for $10.96, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.
Macmillan

I remember reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and literally feeling like the author went through my most heartbreaking memories with my ex and placed them into a book.melancon

Get it from Amazon for $7.58, Barnes & Noble for $10.96, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

8. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day is the absolute definition of quiet longing. And the movie is gorgeous. —emilyr4834943a1Get it from Amazon for $10.87, Barnes & Noble for $10.97, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.
Vintage International

The Remains of the Day is the absolute definition of quiet longing. And the movie is gorgeous. —emilyr4834943a1

Get it from Amazon for $10.87, Barnes & Noble for $10.97, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

9. Paper Towns by John Green

Even though Paper Towns wasn't really romantic, I could relate to the unrequited love that Q felt for Margo. —hayleykerrr28The way that Quentin fell in love with the idea of Margo, and eventually had his heart broken because she wasn’t who she seemed to be, is tragically realistic. In real life, the person you fall in love with isn’t actually like that, and you just end up hurt in the end. —gracemarshallGet it from Amazon for $7.09, Barnes & Noble for $7.23, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.
Speak

Even though Paper Towns wasn't really romantic, I could relate to the unrequited love that Q felt for Margo. —hayleykerrr28

The way that Quentin fell in love with the idea of Margo, and eventually had his heart broken because she wasn’t who she seemed to be, is tragically realistic. In real life, the person you fall in love with isn’t actually like that, and you just end up hurt in the end.gracemarshall

Get it from Amazon for $7.09, Barnes & Noble for $7.23, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

10. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon knows how to write a fantastic story that captures the essence of teenage love really well, while also showing how sometimes life and timing just don't work out. This book doesn't have your standard happy ending, but it is realistic and believable. —jburros1128While it isn't *logistically* realistic, it's fucking beautiful and — in the ways in which it depicts real love, longing, helplessness — truer than true. –Aatia Davison via FacebookGet it from Amazon for $5.18, Barnes & Noble for $8.20, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Penguin Random House

Nicola Yoon knows how to write a fantastic story that captures the essence of teenage love really well, while also showing how sometimes life and timing just don't work out. This book doesn't have your standard happy ending, but it is realistic and believable.jburros1128

While it isn't *logistically* realistic, it's fucking beautiful and — in the ways in which it depicts real love, longing, helplessness — truer than true. –Aatia Davison via Facebook

Get it from Amazon for $5.18, Barnes & Noble for $8.20, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

11. Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly

Published in 1942, this isn't the crazy whirlwind romance we've come to expect today. It beautifully captures the confusion and butterflies of a first love. —ktbug24Get it from Amazon for $7.10, Barnes & Noble for $8.94, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Simon & Schuster

Published in 1942, this isn't the crazy whirlwind romance we've come to expect today. It beautifully captures the confusion and butterflies of a first love. —ktbug24

Get it from Amazon for $7.10, Barnes & Noble for $8.94, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

12. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I felt like my mind had been read when I first got acquainted with Cath and Levi. Dealing with anxiety is hard, but falling in love while suffering with anxiety can feel impossible — you're already so scared to lose control and then suddenly someone comes into your life and slowly starts tearing down the walls. —c4a36fac8eGet it from Amazon for $10.75, Barnes & Noble for $11.96, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Macmillan

I felt like my mind had been read when I first got acquainted with Cath and Levi. Dealing with anxiety is hard, but falling in love while suffering with anxiety can feel impossible — you're already so scared to lose control and then suddenly someone comes into your life and slowly starts tearing down the walls.c4a36fac8e

Get it from Amazon for $10.75, Barnes & Noble for $11.96, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

13. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Anybody who is kinda shy and really nice would know what it's like to be the one who would go along with whatever makes their crush happy — never expressing their own feelings out of fear that they would "disrupt" something. —totalfangirl11Get it from Amazon for $8.39, Barnes & Noble for $9.44, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Simon & Schuster

Anybody who is kinda shy and really nice would know what it's like to be the one who would go along with whatever makes their crush happy — never expressing their own feelings out of fear that they would "disrupt" something.

totalfangirl11

Get it from Amazon for $8.39, Barnes & Noble for $9.44, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

14. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

This book will literally make you cry, laugh, and scream out of anger. It's so beautiful but painfully realistic and shows how much regret and sorrow can actually come from love. —isabellanahai17Get it from Amazon for $12.78, Barnes & Noble for $13.29, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Penguin Random House

This book will literally make you cry, laugh, and scream out of anger. It's so beautiful but painfully realistic and shows how much regret and sorrow can actually come from love.isabellanahai17

Get it from Amazon for $12.78, Barnes & Noble for $13.29, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

15. How It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes

The romance ends in a way that I didn’t expect, but it ended up being more realistic and relatable that way. —daniellem48Get it from Amazon for $5.99, Barnes & Noble for $12.63, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
HarperCollins

The romance ends in a way that I didn’t expect, but it ended up being more realistic and relatable that way. —daniellem48

Get it from Amazon for $5.99, Barnes & Noble for $12.63, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

16. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

It made me realize that no matter how much you love someone, you can’t always save them. —gracemarshallGet it from Amazon for $8.24, Barnes & Noble for $8.37, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Penguin Random House

It made me realize that no matter how much you love someone, you can’t always save them.gracemarshall

Get it from Amazon for $8.24, Barnes & Noble for $8.37, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

17. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit was the first LGBT love story I ever read. I personally have gone through ever single emotion the main character went through while figuring our her sexuality. The author beautifully wrote a blossoming teen romance with emotions and details that are missing in mainstream love stories. I cried at the ending because I was just so happy to finally have someone understand exactly how I felt as a young teen.—sarahannt3Get it from Amazon for $9.99, Barnes & Noble for $9.99, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
HarperTeen

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit was the first LGBT love story I ever read. I personally have gone through ever single emotion the main character went through while figuring our her sexuality. The author beautifully wrote a blossoming teen romance with emotions and details that are missing in mainstream love stories. I cried at the ending because I was just so happy to finally have someone understand exactly how I felt as a young teen.

sarahannt3

Get it from Amazon for $9.99, Barnes & Noble for $9.99, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

18. One Day by David Nicholls

You see Em and Dex’s relationship evolve over several decades. They’re always in each other’s lives but both end up with the wrong people before they figure out how perfect they are for each other. They totally ruin their own relationship and have to patch it back together several times. It’s so real.—hillaryp401beab48What is so extraordinary about this heartbreaking book is that it's just as much about friendship between two growing people as it is about love.—kenia11595Get it from Amazon for $9.74, Barnes & Noble for $12.34, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Hodder & Stoughton

You see Em and Dex’s relationship evolve over several decades. They’re always in each other’s lives but both end up with the wrong people before they figure out how perfect they are for each other. They totally ruin their own relationship and have to patch it back together several times. It’s so real.

hillaryp401beab48

What is so extraordinary about this heartbreaking book is that it's just as much about friendship between two growing people as it is about love.

kenia11595

Get it from Amazon for $9.74, Barnes & Noble for $12.34, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

19. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Mychael and Daisy from Turtles All The Way Down are so realistic. They break up but never really break up and are confused about their label for so long. It's so similar to any relationship I've been in in high school. —zubylee1Get it from Amazon for $11.97, Barnes & Noble for $12.59, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Penguin Random House

Mychael and Daisy from Turtles All The Way Down are so realistic. They break up but never really break up and are confused about their label for so long. It's so similar to any relationship I've been in in high school. —zubylee1

Get it from Amazon for $11.97, Barnes & Noble for $12.59, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

20. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

It was realistic because the two were attracted to each other because they liked the same music and magazines. It pointed out all the rough parts of a relationship you never thought other people experienced, and it also said the things about a relationship we're too embarrassed or ashamed to admit. —ajb467d68dfeGet it from Amazon for $10.39, Barnes & Noble for $11.20, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Macmillan

It was realistic because the two were attracted to each other because they liked the same music and magazines. It pointed out all the rough parts of a relationship you never thought other people experienced, and it also said the things about a relationship we're too embarrassed or ashamed to admit. —ajb467d68dfe

Get it from Amazon for $10.39, Barnes & Noble for $11.20, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

21. You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

What really got to me was the vulnerability of unrequited love. Even though not everything works out for everyone, I loved how each of the characters went through their self-discovery and ultimately became better people as a result of experiencing love. —trevory1111Get it from Amazon for $8.97, Barnes & Noble for $9.89, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
St. Martin's Griffin

What really got to me was the vulnerability of unrequited love. Even though not everything works out for everyone, I loved how each of the characters went through their self-discovery and ultimately became better people as a result of experiencing love.trevory1111

Get it from Amazon for $8.97, Barnes & Noble for $9.89, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

22. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

It was the most imperfect relationship ever but highly realistic. —amyk4e3c3c069Get it from Amazon for $9.26, Barnes & Noble for $9.36, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Penguin Random House

It was the most imperfect relationship ever but highly realistic. —amyk4e3c3c069

Get it from Amazon for $9.26, Barnes & Noble for $9.36, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

23. Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

Murakami effortlessly ties in themes of unrequited love and not feeling like you fit in society. I related so much to this book it brought me to the verge of tears a couple times. —sabinas3Get it from Amazon for $10.20, Barnes & Noble for $10.29, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Vintage

Murakami effortlessly ties in themes of unrequited love and not feeling like you fit in society. I related so much to this book it brought me to the verge of tears a couple times.sabinas3

Get it from Amazon for $10.20, Barnes & Noble for $10.29, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

24. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

It’s silly and confusing and full of misunderstandings and secrets, which generally comes with the terrain of being a closeted LGBT kid and falling in love in 2018.—maddyg4bc5e950cIt's a cute modern-day teen love story, but the chemistry is so natural. It's very different from books that shove the relationship in your face or out of nowhere, and it also includes refreshingly realistic LGBTQ characters.—thatfandomtrashGet it from Amazon for $9.19, Barnes & Noble for $7.04, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
HarperCollins

It’s silly and confusing and full of misunderstandings and secrets, which generally comes with the terrain of being a closeted LGBT kid and falling in love in 2018.

maddyg4bc5e950c

It's a cute modern-day teen love story, but the chemistry is so natural. It's very different from books that shove the relationship in your face or out of nowhere, and it also includes refreshingly realistic LGBTQ characters.

thatfandomtrash

Get it from Amazon for $9.19, Barnes & Noble for $7.04, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

25. Every Day by David Levithan

It's about 'A', a mysterious spirit that wakes up in a different person's body every day. One day A wakes up as Justin, and meets Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. A falls in love with Rhiannon that day and spends many days seeking her out, in different bodies. Eventually A tells Rhiannon everything and they begin 'dating'. It's a cute love story that challenges gender and sexuality as A has neither.—rebekahr487aad405Get it from Amazon for $7.99, Barnes & Noble from $10.01, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Ember

It's about 'A', a mysterious spirit that wakes up in a different person's body every day. One day A wakes up as Justin, and meets Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. A falls in love with Rhiannon that day and spends many days seeking her out, in different bodies. Eventually A tells Rhiannon everything and they begin 'dating'. It's a cute love story that challenges gender and sexuality as A has neither.

rebekahr487aad405

Get it from Amazon for $7.99, Barnes & Noble from $10.01, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

26. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

I think the reason Sutter and Amy's relationship in The Spectacular Now has stuck with me for so long is that not everyone you love is going to be great, and you have to see them for what they are — sometimes in the most painful way possible. Sutter did that for Amy by making her realize that it’s foolish to wait for someone who’ll just hold you back. —laurenbrownjpgGet it from Amazon for $8.69, Barnes & Noble for $8.71, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Ember

I think the reason Sutter and Amy's relationship in The Spectacular Now has stuck with me for so long is that not everyone you love is going to be great, and you have to see them for what they are — sometimes in the most painful way possible. Sutter did that for Amy by making her realize that it’s foolish to wait for someone who’ll just hold you back. —laurenbrownjpg

Get it from Amazon for $8.69, Barnes & Noble for $8.71, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

27. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The story of Achilles and Patroclus might be fiction, but the love they share for each other is nothing but real. After a bad break up, it gave me hope in love again. –Mary-Elizabeth Breslin via FacebookGet it from Amazon for $10.09
HarperCollins

The story of Achilles and Patroclus might be fiction, but the love they share for each other is nothing but real. After a bad break up, it gave me hope in love again. –Mary-Elizabeth Breslin via Facebook

Get it from Amazon for $10.09

28. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchet

Sam Vimes and Sibyl Ramkin's relationship in Guards! Guards! is one of my favorite love stories ever. It feels so honest. They're both middle-aged when they meet; they look average, and do not fall in love at first sight. Their romance grows out of mutual respect and friendship. It's far from the sweep-you-off-your-feet, whirlwind, epic love stories that are popular, and that's why it stands out so much. It's what I hope for someday. –Sara Reichert via FacebookGet it from Amazon for $9.32, Barnes & Noble for $9.99, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Harper

Sam Vimes and Sibyl Ramkin's relationship in Guards! Guards! is one of my favorite love stories ever. It feels so honest. They're both middle-aged when they meet; they look average, and do not fall in love at first sight. Their romance grows out of mutual respect and friendship. It's far from the sweep-you-off-your-feet, whirlwind, epic love stories that are popular, and that's why it stands out so much. It's what I hope for someday. –Sara Reichert via Facebook

Get it from Amazon for $9.32, Barnes & Noble for $9.99, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

29. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell is one of the most closely observed and convincing love stories I've ever read. And it's not just focused on Molly Gibson's love, but also on the secondary characters. Moreover, the book isn't just interested in depicting romantic love, but also the love of family and friends. –Kevin Gassaway via FacebookGet it from Amazon for $3.99, Barnes & Noble for $15.49, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Penguin

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell is one of the most closely observed and convincing love stories I've ever read. And it's not just focused on Molly Gibson's love, but also on the secondary characters. Moreover, the book isn't just interested in depicting romantic love, but also the love of family and friends. –Kevin Gassaway via Facebook

Get it from Amazon for $3.99, Barnes & Noble for $15.49, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

30. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

It's the most beautiful and realistic depiction of love that I've ever read. The circumstances aren't very realistic, but the actual relationship is so poignant and real. They know it can't last because they're from two completely different worlds, but they find solace in one another despite their respective miseries. –Jay Kurtyka via FacebookGet it from Amazon for $1.46, Barnes & Noble for $10.99, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Penguin Random House

It's the most beautiful and realistic depiction of love that I've ever read. The circumstances aren't very realistic, but the actual relationship is so poignant and real. They know it can't last because they're from two completely different worlds, but they find solace in one another despite their respective miseries. –Jay Kurtyka via Facebook

Get it from Amazon for $1.46, Barnes & Noble for $10.99, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

31. Holding the Man by Timothy Conigrave

This book represents real love in the real world. It broke my heart to read it. –Suzy Coad via FacebookGet it from Amazon for $33.24, Barnes & Noble for $22.95, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.
Penguin

This book represents real love in the real world. It broke my heart to read it. –Suzy Coad via Facebook

Get it from Amazon for $33.24, Barnes & Noble for $22.95, or local booksellers through Indiebound here.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

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