Love 'Love Actually'? Read These Books
Can you believe that Richard Curtis' uber-romantic comedy "Love Actually" turns 10 this week? Despite spawning several American imitators, including "Valentine's Day" and "New Year's Eve," the film--which intertwines nine heart-meltingly wonderful love stories--remains a holiday classic even a decade after its original release. If you still love it for the movie's many romantic stories--from Sam and Joanna's puppy love to Sarah and Karl's impossible obstacles--you'll adore these books with similar love stories.
Bromance: "The Odd Couple"
The adorably mismatched pair at the center of Neil Simon's classic play--perhaps most memorably embodied by the dynamic duo of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in the 1968 film--will supply you with bromance material just as hilarious and touching as that of aging rock legend Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) and his trusty sidekick and manager, Joe.
Unrequited love: "Paper Towns"
Mark (Andrew Lincoln) doesn't have any expectations when he shows up "without hope or agenda" on the married Juliet's (Keira Knightley) doorstep with cue cards proclaiming eternal love for her. It's too bad Q doesn't feel the same way about Margo Roth Spiegelman, as it probably would have saved him a bunch of money on gas, among other things. Still, the story of how he finds his way to the AWOL apple of his eye--complete with a crazy road trip--only to realize she doesn't love him back and he's OK with that, has the same emotional-roller-coaster quality of Mark and Juliet's story. On top of that, the book's got a fun dose of suspense and some LOL-worthy romantic ribbing courtesy of the John Green bestseller's gang of hyper-articulate high schoolers.
Love across cultures: "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"
While Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia's English/Portuguese conversations make up some of "Love Actually's" funniest moments, the language barrier creates a more serious problem for Lena and Kostos in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," when he accidentally sees her swimming naked. His inability to explain why he was there nearly derails their love story--you'll see how.
Infidelity: "Madame Bovary"
Fans of the storyline involving married couple Harry (Alan Rickman) and Karen (Emma Thompson) and Harry's secretary-mistress Mia can appreciate the complexity and strong emotions involved in tales of infidelity. (Really, who didn't shed a tear along with Karen while she was crying to Joni Mitchell in the bedroom?) Gustave Flaubert's classic French novel "Madame Bovary" takes the trope further--except this time it's the wife, and not the husband, who strays beyond the marriage bed.
Boss/employee relationship: "Jane Eyre"
Foul-mouthed secretary Natalie charms her boss, English prime minister David (Hugh Grant). If you're a sucker for a workplace romance, try one of the most timeless love stories about a woman in love with her dashing employer, "Jane Eyre." Sure, Charlotte Brontë's classic covers heavier themes, too--religion, personal autonomy, etc.--but it's the love affair between Jane and her beloved Edward Rochester that stirs readers' hearts.
Young love: "Just One Year"
Young Sam's epic quest to win classmate Joanna's love--he learns drums to perform on-stage with her, then chases after her to the airport--provides the anchoring for all of "Love Actually's" disparate stories. Sam's sacrifices and drive bring to mind Willem and Lulu, who shared one magical night in Paris in "Just One Day" and spend "Just One Year" trying to find one another again.
Impossible obstacles: "Await Your Reply"
When Sarah (Laura Linney) chooses to take care of her mentally challenged brother, Michael, instead of pursuing a long-awaited romance with her co-worker Karl (Rodrigo Santoro), she joins a long lineage of fictional characters that have chosen siblings over love interests. Dan Chaon's novel "Await Your Reply" elaborates on this theme with the story of a man chasing his possibly sociopathic twin brother across the country--often to the detriment of his own career and love life.
A cute accent: "Perfume"
Don't you sometimes wish your life were like Colin Frissell's--a loser at love who goes to America and scores big-time due to his exotic British accent? His story is not unlike the (admittedly more sinister) tale of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille of "Perfume," who uses his immaculate sense of smell to develop perfumes that make women fall in love with him. (Though his fantasy plays out rather differently.)
Source: GIF Soup
Unusual meet-cute "How They Met"
John and Judy's romance plays out in reverse: As lighting stand-ins for sex scenes on a movie set, they chat naturally in the buff, though off-set they're shy and awkward. It's a strange, albeit charming, meet-cute. For more sweet meeting tales, check out "Boy Meets Boy" author David Levithan's "How They Met," a collection of 18 short love stories.