In honour of February 14th, here are a few blockbuster reads sorted into relationship status. Which book will you be reading this Valentines Day?
There were so many books out there celebrating the single life that it was hard to choose just a few:
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, 1996. Depicts a single woman in her thirties, living in London in the 1990s. Bridget battles with body image, drinking & smoking, whilst trying to form intimate relationships. Millions of (not necessarily single) readers have sneaked at peak at her diary. Adapted for the big screen in 2001, starring Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones, and Hugh Grant and Colin Firth as her male suitors, audiences have cringed and laughed along with her antics.
About a Boy by British author Nick Hornby has sold over a million copies. Set in 1993 London, it features Will Freeman, a 36-year-old bachelor living off the royalties of his father’s Christmas one-hit-wonder. He spends his time living a single life, drinking and pursuing women. The novel was later adapted into a feature film in 2002, starring Hugh Grant as the main protagonist.
He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. The book’s tag line screams ‘your daily wake-up call‘; a self-improvement book that was first published in 2004. It has featured on the New York Times bestseller list and the Oprah Winfrey Show. You may be more familiar with the movie version, which was released in 2009.
The Help by American author Kathryn Stockett was published in 2009. It has sold over several million copies and spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list. The main protagonist, Skeeter, is a single woman who has just returned home after graduating from university, wanting to become a writer. Skeeter’s mother believes a degree for a woman is merely a piece of paper and wants her to get married. A film adaptation of The Help was released in 2011.
Whether you’re newly engaged, hoping that a ring is slipped on your finger this Valentines Day, or maybe even deciding whether you still want to go through with the wedding, there’s a book for you:
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray, published in 1992. Whilst this book fits easily into many categories, let’s assume you’re reading it because you want to tie the knot with a good understanding of what makes a man or woman tick. This book has sold well over 50 million copies. Statistics are not available on how many relationships it has saved…
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Graeme’s debut 2013 Australian novel took the world by storm, sending us the message that the perfect partner is out there for all of us. The novel takes us on Don Tillman’s relationship journey, a genetics professor who struggles to have serious relationships with women (spoiler alert – he does eventually get engaged). First published by Text Publishing, the rights have been sold in over 40 countries. In September 2014, it was confirmed that Sony Pictures optioned film rights to this book.
Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution by Robert Atkins. Published in 1997, it might be one of many books that help you get into shape for your special day. The atkins diet however is classified as a fad diet. Tragically, the author died from a fatal head injury following a fall on ice in 2003.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
I’m not here to judge, just to offer a book suggestion:
50 Shades of Grey by British author E. L. James was published in 2011. I would say that this book probably errs more on the benefits side than the friendship side (at least initially). The story follows the relationship between college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and young business magnate, Christian Grey. With close to one and a half million ratings on Goodreads alone – a lot of people have had something to say about this book.
MAY / DECEMBER RELATIONSHIP
I’d not heard of this term until I researched this blog post. It describes the romantic involvement of two parties with a considerable age difference. Again, not judging, just reporting.
Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte in 1847. In the novel, Jane is only about 18, with her love interest, Rochester around 35.
Lolita is a 1955 novel written by Russian American novelist Vladimir Nabokov. It’s a controversial novel about a middle-aged literature professor who is obsessed with 12-year-old Dolores Haze. ‘Lolia’ is his private nickname for her. The novel has attained ‘classic status’. It was adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne.
It was ironic that of all the categories, this is the one that I wanted to list some great reads in. However, it appears that romantic books about happy marriages do not make best-seller lists. Readers seem to prefer intrigue, conflict, tragic endings, or tragic beginnings with happy endings. So, let’s think laterally here:
The Joy of Sex by British author Alex Comfort is an illustrated sex manual, first published in 1972. How could I not include such a steamy title that was published the year I was born? It spent eleven weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list and more than 70 weeks in the top five (1972–1974). An updated edition was released in September 2008. Perhaps you might want to consider buying this golden oldie as a Valentines gift for your loved one to keep your marriage in the ‘happily married’ category.
The Art of War For Lovers by Connell Cowan and Gail Parent. Another manual I’m afraid. Based on the book The Art of War, this lover’s guide offers practical strategies for creating lasting and loving relationships. It also offers advice on how to restart a stalled relationship so that hopefully your relationship doesn’t end up in the next category.
Unlike the category above, there were plenty of best sellers to choose from for this category:
Gone Girl is a thriller novel written by Gillian Flynn, published in 2012 and making the New York Times Best Seller list. It provides differing perspectives on a marriage, with the husband suspected of his wife ‘s disappearance. It was made into a movie in 2014, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.
Anna Karenina by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, was first published in book form in 1878. It is a tragic story of a married aristocrat/socialite and her affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. Anna Karenina explores themes of fidelity, jealousy, family and marriage. The first film adaptation was released in 1911, with several versions subsequently made.
The Bridges of Madison County was written by Robert James Waller in 1992. A lonely, married Italian-American woman engages in an affair with a National Geographic photographer in the 1960s. The novel is one of the bestselling books of the 20th century, with 50 million copies sold worldwide. It was adapted into a feature film in 1995, starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.
MARRIED WITH CHILDREN
I can’t not think of the famous television show (originally broadcast from 1987 to 1997) when I hear this phrase. This is the category I would most likely fit into. Depending on the age of your children, you’re possibly surrounded by the following books:
What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel was originally published in 1984. It is probably one of the first books you read as a parent-to-be (it was for me). It consistently tops The New York Times Best Seller list in the paperback advice category and is the number one go-to parenting book. There are further versions for babies, toddlers etc, and is the title of a film produced in 2012.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle was first published in 1969. Even I can remember reading this as a child! Countless parents (myself included) have read this delightful book to their children. It has been described as having sold the equivalent of a copy per minute since its publication and is regarded as ‘one of the greatest childhood classics of all time.’
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, was published in 1994. This is a true Valentines Day read. It’s sold more than 28 million copies worldwide and has been published in 53 languages. An animated adaptation was made in 2012.
Harry Potter Series by British author J. K. Rowling. Those with older children would be well acquainted with this series which introduces us to the young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. The first novel (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) was released in 1997, and the series has been released on film. The franchise is estimated at over $25 billion, making it one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.
We’re getting into sad territory here, but there are still some good reads to escape into:
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is the 2012 memoir by Cheryl Strayed. Ok, technically she’s not separated; 22 year old Stayed is newly divorced. But I’m sure the very idea of going on a 1,100 mile hiking journey along the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 formed when she was separated. This book reached No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. A film adaptation was released in 2014.
It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt (author of He’s Just Not That Into You). This book claims some things can’t and shouldn’t be fixed. A humorous read, it is ‘the ultimate survival guide to getting over Mr. Wrong and reclaiming your inner Superfox.’
It seems there are no shortages of books on this topic, but here are just two that come to mind:
Eat Pray Love is a 2006 memoir by American author Elizabeth Gilbert. It chronicles her trip around the world after her divorce. It was on The New York Times Best Seller list for 187 weeks. A film starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem was released in 2010.
Hollywood Divorces by Jacki Collins may not be a blockbuster in its own right, but the author definitely was – writing 32 novels, all of which appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list, selling over 500 million copies, before her death of breast cancer in September 2015.
MARRIAGES THAT END IN, WELL …
The death of a spouse is a popular theme in fiction. Here are just a few that reached best-seller status.
Love Story by by American writer Erich Segal was originally a screenplay that was bought by Paramount Pictures. The novel was published as a means to advertise the upcoming film. The book was released on Valentines Day, 1970. It is a tragic romance, where the wife is discovered to be suffering from leukemia when they have trouble conceiving. The film was released in December, 1970.
The Time Traveller’s Wife published in 2003, it’s a debut novel from American author Audrey Niffenegger. It is a love story centred on a man with a disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably, resulting in him eventually dying in his wife’s arms. A film version was released in 2009.
To Kill A Mockingbird is an all-time classic novel, where the main character is already widowed at the beginning of the story. Written by Harper Lee, it was published in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize. The story takes place during the Great Depression, in the fictional town in Alabama. It was adapted into a film starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in 1962.
(Photos courtesy of StockSnap.io)
I’ve listed 26 books here. At least 19 have been made into movies, which is a pretty high conversion rate considering there are a few ‘self-help’ books on the list. Maybe you’d prefer to watch the movie version on Valentines Day? How about you – what’s your favourite romantic read?