Romance yourself with a modern-day literature love story!
While classic love stories like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice will forever stand the test of time, sometimes you just want to read something a little more modern. Thankfully, some of the best contemporary romance novels and poetry can offer a reprieve from your dull office setting to a world where you are swept off your feet by a handsome hunk on a Mediterranean beachside resort.
Yet with bookshelves brimming with titles, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why the bookworms at Hunter and Bligh have come up with our definitive reading list. Whether prose or poetry, a steamy fling or a swooning love story at a charming cafe, there’s bound to be something here for you with our guide to the 10 best modern romantic novels and poetry books you must read in 2023.
So unbuckle the corset of historical romance with its prosaic prose, and instead read a contemporary adventure in love, lust and longing. You’ll be floating on air as you read some of the most rhythmic and romantic novels and poetry of recent times.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeymoon
Romance and mystery go together like white wine and cheese in Gail Honeymoon’s debut novel. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine tells the story of a social outcast whose mundane life gets turned upside down when she meets Raymond, a regular IT guy. Together they save an elderly man named Sammy, which launches them all on a quest to save themselves from the life of social isolation they’ve all lived in. And who knows, Eleanor may just find out what true love really means in one of the best modern romance novels we guarantee you’ll fall in love with.
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Poetry is the language of love, harnessing the ability to transform thoughts and ideas into evocative scenes. And Rupi Kaur knows just how to use it. In The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi uncovers various forms of love – from blossoming to wilting and the nitty-gritty in between. Perhaps most notably is how this poetry book focuses on the greatest love of all: the love you have for yourself. A must read in 2023!
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
First launched in 1987, this book is set in the glory days of 1969. Toru, a young student who’s living in Tokyo, is in love with Naoko. But their attraction is marked by the death of their best friend years before. As Toru adapts to campus life and the isolation he faces there, he deviates from Naoko in search of new love with a sexually liberated young woman. Filled with marvellous metaphors and plenty of insight, Norwegian Wood is Haruki Murakami’s most unusual love story, and one of his best novels.
The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
Famed for his bestselling work The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks’ latest creation The Longest Ride cements his skills as a master storyteller. It centres on two love stories that have more in common than meets the eye. Ira Levinson is a 91-year-old man struggling to stay conscious after a car crash. And then his long-dead wife Ruth appears, urging him to hang on. In another county, Sophia Danko is recovering from a break-up where she meets Luke, a rugged cowboy who takes her on a journey. And soon, they’ll intertwine. One of our favourite modern romance books to read.
Devotions by Mary Oliver
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver has curated a selection of her best poems, with each focusing on the power of devotion. Within the 200 poems are sweet observations of daily life, spanning her long career from her first published book of poetry in 1963 to her latest creation, Felicity, published in 2015. The perfect book for bedtime reading, bringing the loveliest of dreams from the page.
The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks
Translated by Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi is a re-release from a collection in 1995, showcasing powerful poetry in the English form. It is romanticism in its most elegant form. But there’s more to this book than love ‒ more specifically, readers can find a collection of worldly treasures and lessons.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
Poetry and prose go hand in hand, especially when André Aciman writes. This contemporary romance novel is a colourful, deeply introspective read that follows 17-year-old boy Elio who has a summer fling with the much more mature Oliver. Its beautiful and evocative language will transform everything you know about love and lust while simultaneously drawing you into a world of carnal appetites and the yearn for unbridled connection. One of the best queer romance novels of all time, Call Me By Your Name is a must-read.
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
The movie adaptation of this was the talk of the town in 2014. But, as always, the book is always so much better. One of the best teen romance novels to grace our shelves tells the story of Hazel who’s battling a terminal illness, and Augustus who falls in love with her. It’s deeply raw and powerfully emotional, bringing insight into unconditional love against all odds. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll never be the same again after reading this.
Swimming Lessons by Lili Reinhart
One of the greatest poetry books to launch during the COVID-19 pandemic is Swimming Lessons by Lili Reinhart. It’s her debut collection exploring the blossoms of young love, the struggles of mental health and bittersweet passion. You’ll be intimately drawn into a youthful world that uncovers the beauty of humanity and the deepness of burgeoning life. Each poem digs into the world of young womanhood in an identity-obsessed world.
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
From Blood and Ash is a medieval romance budding with love, lust and all the violence that comes with it. Living the solitary life as a maiden, Poppy has been chosen from birth to usher in a new era for the kingdom she’s part of. But things heat up when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honour-bound to ensure her ascension, enters her life. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
Looking for more to add to your 2023 reading list? Start with these 10 Best Australian Books To Add To Your 2023 Reading List. And if you want a great place to read these new page-turners, check out Australia’s 10 Best Bookstore Cafes to Read At.