I have been tasked by the Romance Writers of America to curate the ideal 100 books every romance reader, writer, or library should possess. Feel free to shoot me an email if you can think of a must-read, in classic literature, as well as a gotta-have series for any bookshelf.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.
1974: Ann Allen Shockley- Already a groundbreaking librarian and archivist of Black literature at Fisk University in Nashville, in 1974 Shockley wrote Loving Her, a novel about an interracial lesbian couple. First released by Bobbs-Merrill in 1974, it was reprinted by Avon in 1978. Prior to its release, few widely-published novels had portrayed Black lesbians, let alone in a positive light.
The French Lieutenant's Woman
Perhaps the most beloved of John Fowles's internationally bestselling works, The French Lieutenant's Woman is a feat of seductive storytelling that effectively invents anew the Victorian novel. "Filled with enchanting mysteries and magically erotic possibilities" (New York Times), the novel inspired the hugely successful 1981 film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons and is today universally regarded as a modern classic.