So you think you've met your soulmate. Congratulations — that's certainly not an easy feat. But whether you can't wait to walk down the aisle or you're still having a few fleeting doubts, there are some books to read if you think you've met "the one" in any case. No matter how blissful you are, these books are sure to lift you up even higher or ground you in some reality about the hardships that relationships face. Sure, it all seems pretty wonderful in the beginning, but are you ready for the real work of forever? These books may give you a reality check about the latter, and that's never a terrible thing when considering seriously committing to someone.
You already know love is complicated, but it never hurts to get some extra perspective when everything is butterflies and secret Pinterest wedding boards. There's no feeling more fun than being giddy over the idea of being with someone forever, and what better way to prepare from the long haul than to read the most layered and in-depth stories of love that exist — even if they're mostly fiction. Before you lock in forever with your significant other, consider picking up some of these amazing reads to get an idea of what’s in store.
1. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This is the ultimate love story about pining, longing, and the ultimate reward of waiting for true love. Written in the most beautiful, magical prose, you might just weep at the thought of the one you love while reading Marquez' masterpiece. For me, it's by far the most unforgettable story about love.
2. Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill
A quiet and masterful tale of the beauty and hardships of marriage, Department of Speculation is dazzling, mind-numbing, and the perfect read if you’ve ever even considered marriage. It’s a haunting and beautiful tale of a complicated marriage rooted in love and loyalty. My bet is that you’ll finish this read in one day.
3. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Marrying the wrong person is a totally legitimate fear — and you're certainly not alone if the doubt has crossed your mind. How do you know if the one is the one? The Marriage Plot follows an unconventional relationship of two people that might not be quite right for each other, and in their story a nice little lesson presents itself: You cannot change people. Whether your current partner is forever or not, this is an important reminder for anyone in life.
4. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Didion is known for her brutal honesty and passion. The book paints a vivid picture of her life as a wife and mother — the ups, the downs, and all the in-betweens. Sure, dreaming of a life with your perfect mate sounds magical, but what about all the real life that happens too? Dive into Didion for a brave look into the meaning of love.
5. The Poetry of Pablo Neruda by Pablo Neruda, edited by Ilan Stavans
Listen, if you’ve ever loved a person at all, you should read every poem in this giant book. If you are especially ready to commit your soul to another human, it's easy to find insight and extreme passion Neruda’s work.
6. The Privileges by Jonathan Dee
This Pulitzer Prize finalist book is about an elite Manhattan family who faces family and financial problems during a surprisingly desirable marriage. The real meat and potatoes of this dazzling, yet refreshingly subtle book is the relationship between husband and wife. It’s an interesting look at surviving life with your partner by your side.
7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This is a good book to re-read if you're trying to figure out if your love is a real, healthy thing, or if it’s bordering on... well, obsession. One could argue that Gatsby was the greatest and most dedicated lovers of all time, and one could also argue that he was fixated on an illusion. After reading The Great Gatsby, you’ll stop dwelling on the one that got away and focus on the real things in front of you.
8. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
This stunning memoir looks at what it means to be a partner and a mother. It examines the limitations to love (if there are any) as the protagonist falls for a gender-fluid man and experiences a pregnancy. The prose is fierce and her true-life tale will stick with you forever.
9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s thoughts and questions regarding marriage and women in love still stand true today in many ways. What does it mean for a woman to marry, and what does it mean to be in love? This ultra-classic love story is not just entertaining, but it will help you decide what is most important in your own relationship and how to stay sane long-term.
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Remembering your high school crush might not seem so helpful when you’ve finally met the one, but The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an excellent reminder of what love should feel like. It’s a dark and hysterical coming of age story that will make you feel butterflies all over again.
11. Just Kids by Patti Smith
If you are human, then I’m sure you already know how hard love can sometimes be. But if you aren't quite sure yet, just ask Patti Smith. She’s mastered telling the story of her first true love — even in its darkness and sometimes-unrequited phases, it’s a magical journey about the many layers of love.
12. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
It’s pretty much impossible to articulate the meaning of love — and while all these books on this list try, The Lover’s Dictionary takes a whole different stab at it. It’s written in the style of a dictionary and explores every single emotion you might feel when you’re in committed to your partner. It’s an examination of the zillions of stories of love, both good and bad.
13. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
While you might not have to endure the insane hardships of Jane Eyre, it's certainly easy to relate to the long road of figuring it out with the one you love. It was no easy feat for Jane Eyre to find true peace and happiness with the man she loved, but the road to her happy ending is worth the read. It’s a good reminder that love is not necessarily a linear path to happiness.
14. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
Forget Girls and Sex and the City, Erica Jong was writing about juicy relationships long before that. In Fear of Flying, follow the honest story of a married woman who has an affair to find some purpose in her life. Even though this book was probably written in the 1970s, the book still feels relevant today as it explores the lulls and boredom that comes with long-term love.
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