Today, I’m joining up with Brita and a whole bunch of other wonderful bloggers to celebrate the month of love! Want to join in the 2020 Love Blog Challenge? Check out the list of prompts here, and join the link-up below.
Happy Valentine’s Day! In celebration of the day when everyone loves love, I thought it would be fun to share 14 love lessons that I’ve learned from some of my favorite books.
Some of these books gave me unrealistic expectations about marriage and spending your entire life with another person. Others just about get it right. Whether the main love lessons are happy or sad or simply don’t apply to your situation, I hope you at least enjoy all the beautifully, sappy gifs I’ve included.
1. We all deserve love.
Inej Ghafa & Kaz Brekker
He needed to tell her…what? That she was lovely and brave and better than anything he deserved. That he was twisted, crooked, wrong, but not so broken that he couldn’t pull himself together into some semblance of a man for her. That without meaning to, he’d begun to lean on her, to look for her, to need her near.Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows is the last book that I can remember reading through the night because I honestly couldn’t put it down. And at least a bit of that was due to the relationship between Kaz and Inej. Neither is what you would call a “hero,” and neither feels like they deserve the things that heroes get at the end of the story: love, happiness, peace to live their lives the way they want to.
But they do deserve all of those things, AND SO DO YOU.
2. Love is a partnership.
Claire Beauchamp & Jamie Fraser
Don’t be afraid. There’s the two of us now.Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
Oh, Outlander. What characters! What a love story! What steamy scenes!
Perhaps because Claire is a “modern” woman with a trade of her own, their love feels like more of a partnership than you would expect to find in 18th century Scotland. It probably helps that Jamie’s life has been saved by her savvy medical skills on more than one occasion.
Whether you first got together via Tinder or by falling through ancient Celtic stones, find someone who you can lean on during the bad times and laugh with during the good ones.
3. Sometimes there is an instant connection that you can’t shake.
Catherine Earnshaw & Heathcliff
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
Full disclosure: Wuthering Heights is not my favorite. But it seemed a little ridiculous to have a post full of love quotes and not include the “what our souls are made of” quote.
I will say that it fits on this list because Catherine and Heathcliff do have one of those connections that neither can shake despite his long absence and her marriage to another man. And I suppose that’s love sometimes. Take it how you will!
4. A little healthy competition in a relationship never hurt anyone.
Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe
If Gilbert had been asked to describe his ideal woman the description would have answered pointed for point to Anne, even to those seven tiny freckles whose obnoxious presence still continued to vex her soul.Anne of Avonlea, L.M. Montgomery
Growing up, I adored the relationship between everyone’s favorite bosom friend, Anne Shirley, and her school rival, Gilbert Blythe. However, I don’t think it was until later that I truly understood why: in all things, Gilbert really, truly, 100% considered Anne to be his equal.
She beat him in the school spelling bee, and they competed for the highest marks in class and eventually tied for the best score on the college entrance exams. Not only did he never try to change her, but he took her (and all of her flights of fancy) seriously. Anne was Gilbert’s main source of competition, and from that initial rivalry came a respect and love that lasted a whole darn series.
5. Sometimes love catches us off guard.
Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Darcy
I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
It thinks it’s safe to say that neither Elizabeth nor Mr. Darcy saw their relationship coming. He had offended her pride, she was prejudiced against his status (Or is it the other way around?), and they were very much not interested in one another.
No, thanks. Adios. Try again later.
But sometimes it’s the love stories you don’t expect that knock you off your feet, and Pride and Prejudice is certainly one of those that we aren’t getting over, even 200 years later.
6. Love is love is love is love is love.
Simon Spier & Blue
Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever.Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
I read this book right before the movie came out, and I’m so glad that I did because I loved both, though in different ways.
And ultimately, I think the love lesson coupled with the quote above is about all I need to say!
7. You have to love yourself first.
But whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself.The Awakening, Kate Chopin
I adore The Awakening and have written about it at least once before on this blog. It’s an important novella in the feminist canon because throughout the story, Edna comes to understand herself in a way she never has before, which ultimately isolates her from the rest of her world.
While the story has a tragic way of showing it, it portrays how someone can get lost in a relationship, whether due to societal norms, pressures from family, or serious issues like depression. And that can be a hard thing to come back from.
So do yourself a favor, and get to know and love yourself before rushing headfirst into a romance.
8. The best partners help us grow.
Hermione Granger & Ron Weasley
“I mean we should tell them to get out. We don’t want any more Dobbies, do we? We can’t order them to die for us —”
There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouthHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Ah, that “finally!” kiss moment that was so much better in the book! The thing I always loved about this scene was how true to Hermione it felt. Finally, finally Ron showed that he had learned something from her years of S.P.E.W. and questions the “norms” of wizarding society — so much so that in the most critical moment, what the last seven years of their lives had led up to, he was concerned about Hogwarts’ house elves.
The best relationships are the ones where you listen to and learn from one another. Growing together as a couple and as individuals means life is always new and different!
9. Love should be fun!
Delilah Bard & Kell Maresh
“Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”A Gathering of Shadows, V.E. Schwab
Magic and adventures and love, oh my! I’m a big fan of the Darker Shades of Magic series, and one of the main reasons is because the characters seem to have so much fun all the time. Sure, there are bad guys and difficult times, but the relationship between Kell and Lila is so playful.
I think any kind of partnership should be fun, but especially the one that you’re planning to continue for the foreseeable future! It’s an important love lesson to do things that allow you both to be playful and fun.
10. But occasionally, the timing is off.
Clare Abshire & Henry DeTamble
Surely he has to say yes, this Henry who loves me in the past and the future must love me now in some bat-squeak echo of other time.The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
This book absolutely broke me, and I think that’s why I’ve never gone back and read it even though I loved it so much (and am a chronic rereader). Henry is a time traveler who meets Clare when she is a girl. Their timelines are pretty royally screwed up, and he disappears into time at random moments throughout their lives. It is definitely worth a read if you haven’t already picked it up!
The life lesson? Sometimes, our timing doesn’t line up perfectly. But that doesn’t mean that at some moment down the road, it won’t be the exact right moment for someone to come back into your life.
11. And sometimes, it isn’t enough.
Louisa Clark & Will Traynor
You are scored on my heart, Clark. You were from the first day you walked in, with your ridiculous clothes and your complete inability to ever hide a single thing you felt.Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
Speaking of books that destroyed me, THIS ONE. If you haven’t read it or seen the movie adaptation, you’re really missing out.
I don’t want to go too into spoilers for this one, so I’ll just say that sometimes love isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to make someone stay. It isn’t enough heal every wound. It just isn’t enough. It’s a tough love lesson to learn, but it’s true.
11. Family love sticks with you.
The March Sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy
I could never love anyone as I love my sisters.Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
There’s a reason the ancient Greeks included storge, or familial love, as one of the big ones. For many, it’s the first kind of love that they experience, and it certainly sticks with you. One of the things I always loved about Little Women was the emphasis on the sisters and their relationships with one another, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Anyone who has a sibling knows that there are ups and downs to the sibling relationship, but overall there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do for them. Including but not limited to: curling their hair, loaning them your shoes, and forgiving them when they burn your prized manuscript.
12. Your partner should balance you out.
Katniss Everdeen & Peeta Mellark
What I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction.The Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who thought Katniss should’ve ended up with Gale, but I am not one of them! Peeta was warm, loving, funny, all the things Katniss needed after the insane trauma that they both experienced as kids in the Hunger Games.
It’s a bit of a cliche, but there is truth in the adage that “opposites attract.” One of many love lessons you can learn from Katniss and Peeta is the idea that your partner can balance out all the good and less-than-exemplary parts of you.
13. Real love is worth going to the ends of the earth.
Frodo Baggins & Samwise Gamgee
“Come, Mr. Frodo!” he cried. “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well.”The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien
That’s right, you might’ve thought the great love story in The Lord of the Rings was between Aragorn and Arwen or even my OTP, Faramir and Eowyn.
Nope, it was Frodo and Sam all along. They traveled across the entirety of Middle Earth together, saved one another multiple times, and eventually snuck into Mordor to complete a seemingly impossible task. The bond that they share by the end of the whole thing is beautiful and connects the two of them in a way that no one else will ever understand.
The love lesson? Sometimes you have to go through hell together, but you’ll come out better for it on the other side.
14. And they lived happily ever after.
Sophie Hatter & Howl
“I think we ought to live happily ever after,” and she thought he meant it. Sophie knew that living happily ever after with Howl would be a good deal more hair-raising than any storybook made it sound, though she was determined to try.Howl’s Moving Castle, Dianna Wynne Jones
Which of the fictional couples included in this list is your favorite? It’s a tough choice, I know.
P.S. If you have all the lovey-dovey feels now, check out this list of romantic places you need to visit.