Whether you love romance or hate it, sometimes you just want a story about love. We’ve compiled a list of 30 stories that are both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and they feature lots of love with very little romance.
The books on this list aren’t all about happy love. A lot of them show just how complex love is, including the good and bad sides, and create a very emotional story as a result. Some do have a little romance, but it’s not the main plot of any of the stories. So if you’re ready to read some non-romantic love stories, let’s get started.
Best Books About Love
What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster
When a county initiative brings students from a mostly black part of town into predominantly white schools, the community is outraged. Jade is the mother of Gee, a young black man who is directly affected by the initiative. Lacey May is a white woman with a half-Latina daughter named Noelle, but she only sees Noelle as white.
When Gee and Noelle meet in school, they don’t know how it will change their lives forever. The two families form a messy and complicated bond, and the mothers make choices that will stick with them as they try to do what’s best for their children.
You can read What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster here.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Celie and Nettie are sisters who were separated when they were young. The two remain loyal to each other, hoping to someday be reunited again, and begin a string of letters that last for 20 years.
This novel tells us the story of their lives and all of the pain, struggle, and bravery that entail as they try to find their way back to each other through love.
You can find The Color Purple by Alice Walker here.
Under One Roof by Samantha Tonge
Robin moved to London never expecting to see her mother, Faye, again. But when Faye has an accident, Robin goes back home. Their relationship is uneasy, but then Robin finds an old scavenger hunt from her father, one of the ones he used to take them on every week.
It’s a new scavenger hunt that they’ve never seen, and Robin’s father believed it would affect everything. When Amber shows up to meet her grandmother Faye for the first time, she is interested in the scavenger hunt. All of the women decide to solve it, not knowing just how much it will change their relationship together.
Under One Roof by Samantha Tonge can be purchased here.
Maame by Jessica George
Maddie is the main person taking care of her father, who has Parkinson’s, while her mother is always off in Ghana. So when her mother returns, Maddie takes the opportunity to get out of the house and finally experience life.
But soon something tragic occurs, and Maddie is forced to look at the complexity of her life and how love affects everything.
This book explores themes of identity, racism, friendship, finding where you belong, and the complicated nature of love.
You can find Maame by Jessica George here.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Enzo is a dog who is very smart, his knowledge coming from the television and his master, Denny Swift. Enzo has learned so much about life, knowing that it isn’t just about rushing through but about actually enjoying it. On the night before he dies, Enzo looks back on everything that he has experienced.
This story is funny and emotional, talking about love, family, and hope.
You can read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein here.
The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles
It is the 1930s in Brazil and Dores is nine years old, an orphan working on a sugar plantation. When Graça, the daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, shows up, the two girls form an instant bond.
They share a very special connection as well as a love for music, but only one of them is destined to be a star. Their friendship together will determine things that happen in their lives, and both girls will look back on it for years to come.
You can find The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles here.
Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds
Jamal and Q haven’t been friends for two years because Jamal blames Q for his parents’ death. But when Q dies, Jamal tries and fails to save him.
There is a new technology that allows Q to be brought back to life for a few weeks before he dies for good, and Q’s mom doesn’t want anyone to tell Q about his fate.
Jamal wants to fix things with Q but doesn’t know how to with such little time, not being able to tell the full truth.
The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris
Alex is sixteen and can see into the future. His visions distract him, and Alex doesn’t like that they constantly make him anxious and worried about what’s to come.
When Alex has a vision of his brother Isaiah dying in a short time, he struggles with what that means. He and Isaiah must reconcile with their past and future together as they prepare for what’s to come.
The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris can be found here.
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
Ted is a struggling writer who has a hard time being vulnerable and intimate with other people. His elderly dog Lily is his only solace, and when her health goes downhill, Ted makes a promise to save her by any means necessary.
This story follows their magical adventure filled with longing and explores how it feels to love fully and do anything for those you love.
You can purchase Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley here.
Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green
Macy is about to finish sixth grade, and after it’s over, her family is moving away. Even worse, Macy will be getting a new stepfather and two twin stepsisters. THEN, Macy’s mom makes her help the next-door neighbor, Iris, pack up to move to an assisted living facility.
Iris doesn’t know sign language, and since Macy is deaf she’s not sure how they will communicate. But Iris wants to talk to Macy and tell her stories, and she finds ways to speak through notes and food. Soon the two form a friendship, and it may be just what they were both looking for.
Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green can be read here.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
It is the early 1960s and Elizabeth Zott is a scientist at Hastings Research Institute, where all of her colleagues are men. An unlikely relationship begins between her and Calvin Evans, a man who she works with.
A few years later, Elizabeth is a single mother with a daughter and a dog, and she works as a television cooking show host. Elizabeth’s show focuses on the chemistry used in cooking and it’s a big hit, but Elizabeth isn’t happy.
This book focuses on Elizabeth’s love for what she has and the loss of what once was, telling the story of her struggle to find happiness and make a difference while doing what she loves.
Find Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmys here.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Edward Tulane is a china rabbit who is owned by a girl named Abilene. Abilene loves Edward and treats him very kindly, and he loves her back.
But one day, Edward gets lost. We follow his journey as he goes to many places. His heart may be broken, but Edward is on a quest to learn to love again.
You can read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo here.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This story follows a Chinese-American family living in a small town in the 1970s. When Lydia, the Lee’s favorite child, is found drowned in the lake, the family is shocked and heartbroken.
We hear about everything that happens after Lydia is found as well as everything that happened leading up to her death, and how the family grapples with the loss of someone whom they deeply loved.
You can purchase Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng here.
A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe
It is 1966, and William Lavery is at his first ever black-tie event. But when news arrives of a school that has been buried in a landslide, everything changes.
William volunteers to help, and it’s a night that will stay with him forever. While volunteering, William thinks about his past that he’s worked so hard to forget. It’s painful, but he also realizes that his compassion has helped him heal.
A Terrible Kindness by Joe Browning Wroe can be read here.
A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
This book is a collection of many different lives of many different dogs. They are charming stories that all have something to offer, told from the views of the dogs. They are hilarious and heartbreaking, exploring the undeniable love and bond between humans and their dogs.
You can find A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron here.
Infinite Country by Patricia Engel
Talia is stuck in a correctional facility in Colombia, and she desperately needs to get out and get back to her father. He is waiting for her with a plane ticket back to the United States, where she will finally get to be reunited with the rest of her family.
We hear Talia’s story as well as the story of her parents, who met when they were teenagers. Mauro and Elena left Colombia to find safety in the USA, and after having children, Mauro ended up being deported.
This is a story about the love between a family that is separated and the trials that occur as they try to get back to each other.
Infinite Country by Patricia Engel can be read here.
The People We Keep by Allison Larkin
It is 1994 and April has had enough of her life. She is failing school, living in a motorhome with her dad, and fending for herself. When April and her dad get into a fight, April leaves for good.
She ends up in Ithaca, New York, and finds a job at a café. April feels like she belongs there, and she makes friends who she grows to love more every day. But April is worried that her past will cause her to hurt those she truly cares about, so she puts her emotions into her songs.
The People We Keep by Allisson Larkin can be purchased here.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
Tova’s 18-year-old son, Erik, disappeared 30 years ago on a boat in the ocean. Now, Tova’s husband has died, and she turns to what has always helped her cope: staying busy. She starts working the night shift at an aquarium as a cleaner and develops an unlikely friendship with Marcellus, the resident Giant Pacific octopus.
Marcellus is very wise and has never had an interest in any of his human captors. But when Tova shows up he takes a liking to her, and he wants to help solve the mystery of what happened to Erik all those years ago.
You can read Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt here.
The Ones We Choose by Julie Clark
Paige’s 8-year-old son has been having a hard time fitting in at school, and it doesn’t help that he’s asking Paige questions about his biological father that she doesn’t have the answers to.
But Paige’s life changes when the anonymous donor Paige used shows up out of the blue. On top of that, Paige’s father has come back and she is forced to confront her own past and insecurities while helping her son.
The Ones We Choose by Julie Clark can be found here.
The Getaway Girls by Dee MacDonald
Gill, Maggie, and Connie are 3 strangers who meet at a flower arranging class. All of the women are very different, but they have been dreaming of adventure and decide to go on a holiday together.
They get a campervan and drive through France and Italy, enjoying their time in the sun. But all of the women have different secrets and things that they want, and the journey turns out to be the beginning of something for everyone.
You can read The Getaway Girls by Dee MacDonald here.
Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown
Three sets of parents have adopted four biological siblings, vowing to keep the siblings close to each other over the years. The new family is trying their best to get along and figure out how to maintain this relationship when they decide to go on a vacation together.
The family is determined to make it work in the tight quarters. But when the kids’ birth mother calls and announces she is pregnant again, everyone is forced to consider how a family is really found.
You can find Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown here.
A Country You Can Leave by Asale Angel-Ajani
Lara is sixteen and she has just found herself homeless again with her mother, Yevgenia. They find a mobile home to live in, and Lara starts to wonder what a life without her mother might entail as she finds her place in the new community.
Lara and Yevgenia don’t share much with each other, but when a violent attack occurs, the mother and daughter have to look at their history and how their love has been affected through trauma.
You can purchase A Country You Can Leave by Asale Angel-Ajani here.
I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Noah and Jude are twins who used to be inseparable, but now they barely talk. In this story, we hear about their early years together, when they were best friends and Noah was falling for the boy next door. Then we hear about now, when Jude meets an intriguing boy.
This story contains romance, but it also talks about the love between two twins who are trying to find their way back to each other.
I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson can be read here.
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Abdullah lives with his sister Pari and their father and stepmother in Afghanistan. The siblings share a special bond, and Abdullah would do anything for Pari. When they go on a journey across the desert, they have no idea how their lives will change.
This story follows many different characters, exploring ideas of love, sacrifice, and betrayal.
You can read And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini here.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Edward Adler is 12 years old when he gets on a plane with his older brother and parents, going to Los Angeles. But halfway across the USA, the plane crashes and Edward is the only one out of all the passengers to survive.
Edward struggles to feel whole again after his family is gone, and he has to find the strength to continue on, one step at a time.
This is Edward’s story of grief and heartbreak and his journey to learn to love again.
You can purchase Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano here.
Anxious People by Fredrick Backman
When an open house turns deadly, a group of hostages must come together to try and get out of it alive. A failed bank robber is holding them at gunpoint, and all of the strangers have different reactions. One 87-year-old woman has lived too long to care about a gun in her face, and one mystery man has locked himself in the bathroom.
Everyone in the house is not what they seem, and they all carry secrets and grief from their lives. As the hostages talk to each other, they learn surprising things about one another and it causes the most unexpected of things to take place.
You can read Anxious People by Fredrick Backman here.
I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You by Yumi Sakugawa
This is a graphic novel about the meaning of friendship. It is about falling for someone as a friend, wanting to spend your days with them, and finding your platonic soulmate. This book is joyous and sweet and it will fill you with warm and happy emotions.
You can purchase I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You by Yumi Sakugawa here.
Nobody’s Cuter Than You: A Memoir About the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle
This memoir talks about how special the love between friends is. In the modern day, most of us have turned to social media as a way to connect, but it isn’t the same as having someone in front of us to laugh and cry with.
Melanie Shankle explores the beauty of friendship in this hilarious and celebratory memoir.
You can find Nobody’s Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle here.
The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla
When Charlie’s dad has to go from California to Virginia for medical treatment, Charlie is forced to travel across the country with his sister, brothers, and a new family friend. Charlie isn’t excited, but he decides to look for all of the birds he and his father were hoping to see someday.
This is a coming-of-age story about finding love and hope during hard times.
The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla can be found here.
On the night before Carmen and her friends leave each other for the summer, Carmen decides to get rid of some old pants from a thrift store. But her friends all love them, and they decide that whoever they fit best will get to keep them. Miraculously, the pants look great on everyone, so they form a vow of the sisterhood of the traveling pants.
The girls leave each other the next day, but a memorable summer is only just beginning.
You can read The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares here.
What is the difference between a love story and a romance?
Romance novels tend to be a lot more picture-perfect and unrealistic, and the characters don’t really have any major flaws. Love stories often feature more authentic characters who have good and bad sides to them.
Is romance necessary in a love story?
Stories about love do not have to contain romance. There are many different kinds of platonic love that have nothing to do with romance, and they are still just as interesting to read about. Stories might talk about love between siblings, other family members, or friends that are strictly platonic but it will still be considered a story about love.
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