While unrequited love can afflict much pain on the admirer, it can be entertaining to read some of the great books about unrequited love. When immersing yourself in books that feature unrequited love, it is only natural to sit at the edge of your seat and wonder if there will be a happy ending. You may simply relate to the story of rejection that leads to a broken heart and real physical pain or you may want to escape from your own reality by reading the fiction penned by a talented author.
Whether it is a book about one-sided love that leads to rejection or one where the beloved is not at all aware of the affection the admirer feels, it is a subject with which many readers can connect. If you would like to drown yourself in a great novel on love that is not reciprocated, here are ten great reads to consider.
#1: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the great modern books about unrequited love and a coming of age story all in one. As a cult-favorite tale, the book takes a unique look at life in high school and how experiences can be both funny and heartbreaking as you grow up and straddle the line between adolescence and adulthood. If you want to laugh and cry all at once, this book is an entertaining modern classic to try.
#2: The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald is a well-known American author who penned many great books about unrequited love, but none as great as The Great Gatsby. Taking place in the Jazz Age, the story is about Jay Gatsby five years after serving as an officer overseas. Gatsby, deeply in love with Daisy, was not a victim of loving someone who did not love him. Instead, he was a victim of his love marrying someone who she thought was more successful and financially stable. This story shows readers just what can push people in life and how heartbreak has a dramatic long-term effect.
#3: Gone With the Wind
Like many of the classic books about unrequited love, Gone With the Wind is an epic novel that became a celebrated movie. Taking place during the Civil War, the story is about a beautiful southern belle named Scarlett and a contemptuous suitor named Rhett. In this tale, love is unrequited in a love triangle of sorts. Scarlett’s emotions drive her decisions throughout the book, leading her to adventures that keep readers on the edge of their seats. Not only is this a tale of love affairs, it is a tale of how the Civil War changed the family dynamic along with the country.
#4: Great Expectations
This slim novel by Charles Dickens contains a compelling story that is filled with developed characters that you love and root for. The main character Pip, after many misfortunes and surviving life as an orphan, sets many great expectations for his future after being tormented by his guardian who adopted him after being left at the altar. Miss Havisham, who has gone somewhat crazy after being left, shapes Pip’s future as he pushes to be more than a blacksmith. While this is one of the great books about unrequited love, it is also a story of forgiveness and redemption.
#5: Little Women
Lousia May Alcott
Little Women is yet another one of the classic books about unrequited love that has been made into a movie. The literary piece allows the reader to connect with a specific sister, each who has their own story as they mature and become adults. Not only is this a story of gender roles and how sisters like Jo and Amy attempted to break free of the stereotypes, it is a story of how this rebellion can affect the lives of many.
In the story, Jo rejects childhood friend Laurie who proclaims his undying love for her. After proposing to Jo and being turned down, Laurie goes off to Europe to mend his broken heart. In the end, Laurie marries Jo’s sister Amy and Jo is left to question her decision. With many different instances of rejection and betrayal, this is a book that will keep you interested.
#6: The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemingway is most certainly an author that most have heard of, and while The Sun Also Rises was written in the 1920’s, it is a book that readers of today’s generation can relate to. Unlike the other books about unrequited love, this tale is narrated by the character who falls victim to rejection not because of the person he is, but instead because of a wound from the war that leaves him sexually incapable. This story is not only about love, but also about the Lost Generation of young adolescents who had their innocence taken from them because of World War I.
#7: Les Miserables
Les Miserables, which is a French novel and the oldest book about unrequited love to make the list, shows that this was a topic popular in the 19th century as well. The title translates to The Miserable Ones and The Wretched. The story is about an ex-convict who is jailed for stealing bread to eat and then is released in the midst of the uprising of 1832. As the moral compass of the story, Valjean battles good and bad and the ability to love another as he struggles to love himself.
#8: Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights is another one of the books about unrequited love that was penned in the 19th century during a period of civil unrest. The novel itself was very controversial during its time because it focused on not just how challenging daily life could be in Victorian times, but also how religious ideals were full of hypocrisy based on social class. In this story, love is not returned because of social class.
#9: Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes
Don Quixote was originally written in Spanish and then translated to English. The story is about 16th century self-proclaimed knight Quixote and his travels through Spain. While this is one of the most tragic books about unrequited love in the list, it is also one of the funnier reads due to what love made the knight-hero do. In this story, Don Quixote fell in love with a neighbor’s daughter without ever exchanging a word. To the outsider, he looked like a lunatic, but on the inside his intentions were to protect her from harm. This book is a true example of unrequited love where the beloved simply did not know how the admirer felt.
#10 The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is most known for its film and play adaptations, but in the early 20th century it was one of the most popular books about unrequited love. The story tells the tale of the obsessed and disfigured Erik who is believed to be a ghost, but is actually a man living under the opera house. He secretly gives voice lessons to the young opera singer Christine and falls in love. He kidnaps her and forces her to marry him although she is in love with someone else. If you are looking for a piece with amazing protagonists that will pull emotions from you, this is a great choice.
Love is often not reciprocated, and the results are often tragic. In these books about unrequited love, you can relate to the characters without having to feel the heartbreak yourself.