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Fall in Love February: HVATT Team's Favorite Romance Reads and Love Songs

It has been a “Fall in Love February” for the Her Voice team! As the month of love comes to a close, Her Voicers reflect upon their favorite romance reads and love songs. Whether you’re about to go to the beach for spring break and need a thrilling romance read or need some new song recommendations that fill you with feelings of love, hope, and nostalgia– the Her Voicers have you covered.


The People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

My favorite type of romance books are the ones that draw two people together in unconventional ways, deviating from the archetypical “love at first sight” theme. I read this book on vacation by the pool and beach, and I couldn’t put it down because of how different the layout of the story was compared to any other romance book I have read before. Each chapter was from a different person’s perspective and chapters fluctuate between past and present, keeping my attention and reminding me how much I appreciate a clever, untraditional romance book. I loved this one and highly recommend it to anyone wanting a suspenseful beach read on vacation!

"Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman

The first time I listened to this song, I was left in tears because of how beautiful the lyrics seemed to compliment the overarching mood and melody. It remains to be one of my all-time favorite songs and every time I listen to it, I get something different out of it. I have perceived the lyrics of the song contributing to an overarching metaphor of a fast car, symbolic of the energy and hope a couple have together in starting a life together, united as one in helping each other reach their goals. What started as a slow, mediocre car– a life where the couple haven’t fallen in love yet– has turned into a fast car…. a car that thrives off a couple’s spontaneity and hope, ready to drive their car and take on the world together, in a world full of adventure and unknown. 


North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

A headstrong, socially-conscious young woman from the south of England moves to the industrial north, locking eyes and trading verbal blows with a hottie local mill owner. It is an enemies-to-lovers trope framed by labor strikes and class commentary, all set in a fictionalized Manchester, a city that has always had my heart. If you have read love-on-the-moors via Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre and love-in-the- drawing-rooms via Jane Austen’s oeuvre, then it is time for your baptism in love-in-industrial-Yorkshire. Read the book and then turn on the PBS mini-series–and then send me a chat. I’ll be ready to swoon with you!

"San Fransisco" by the Mowgli's

Although this song was released in 2012 well after my honeymoon in San Francisco, the bubbly-pop sweetness of it reminds me of young love–that kind of idealized love that is unapologetically earnest and silly and joyfully infectious. When Colin Dieden and crew bop in with that opening line, “I’ve been in love with love,” I am hooked every time. Needless to say, I screamed a little when the song made an appearance in the third installment of The Guardians of the Galaxy last year. The band split up in 2020, so my hope to see them live has been on hold–but the spirit of this song seems to nourish these kinds of hopes, so I’ll wait patiently for the reunion!   


All About Love by Bell Hooks

To preface with just how much I love this book let me set the scene: it’s a ripe 12 o’clock in the morning, all of my lights are still on in my room, and any passersby could most definitely hear guttural sobs through my door. I had just finished All About Love. Yet, if I’m being fully honest, it was almost impossible for me to not shed a tear with each ensuing chapter – Hooks’ meditations just hit so close to home. While this is not my typical, and preferred fictional romance read, it pushed me to explore the seemingly simple question “What is love?” As someone who enjoys her good chunk of theory-centric literature, this piece was perfect for me!

"Forever" by Noah Kahan

I didn’t think I could love Stick Season anymore, but Noah proved me wrong by releasing “Forever.” This song encapsulates the joy in change – in limitless possibility – and reinforces the love that I feel for my loved ones and hometown. I think this release came at the perfect time as it’s right before I’m heading off to college. It makes me feel very nostalgic and lets me look back on all the good times I’ve had over the years with friends and family fondly. The track almost feels cyclical, each listen flowing seamlessly into the next, emphasizing the theme of infinity that lies at its heart.


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I read Anna Karenina as summer reading before my senior year of high school and a question posed by the affair between Anna and Vronsky has haunted me ever since: who are you with and without romantic love? Teaching the female voice, we continually encounter women in literature who risk their lives to remain autonomous and free, and I often remember Anna’s boldness to claim her life by ending it as one of my first examples of this motif. Although read as a response to being left by Vronsky, I like to think that Anna ended her own life because she didn’t want to live according to others’ rules, which is also quite a love story! Oh, and the novel launched my lifelong obsession with winter weddings in the snow with a bride wearing a fur stole.

"I've Been Loving You Too Long" by Otis Redding

Many nights growing up I stayed up late with my parents as they played music of the 50s, 60s, and 70s on repeat in our backyard while they looked out silently into the night sky. My mom is a hippie and loves Bob Dylan and The Mamas and The Papas, and my dad was always listening to Roy Orbison and anything produced by the “wall of sound” master Phil Spector. In my 20s I had moved out of my parents’ home but I carried with me their musical influence as I discovered vinyl. On Saturdays when I was single and living in DC, I would ride my bike around town and stop at bookstores to rummage through stacks of old books and records, and one of my favorite genres was soul and rhythm and blues. When I played Otis Redding on my record player for the first time and looked out into the night sky through my apartment window, I knew old, true love would sound and feel like this song, like an ache, and a longing.  


Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I love this story because it follows two people in the spotlight who fall in love while faking a relationship for publicity. I was initially drawn to this read after watching “The Crown” on Netflix and reading a biography on Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. I found myself enjoying this book for having a nice enemies-to-lovers trope surrounding the son of the president of the United States and the Prince of Wales. I always come back to this story when I need something light and fun to read, especially when I’m in a reading slump. I am hoping to watch the film sometime soon, but only after rereading it, of course!

"Daylight" by Taylor Swift

This song always makes me appreciative of all the people I love in my life and is a reminder for me to try to be remembered for the things I love, not the small things that bother me and hold me back. It also makes me feel nostalgic for the first time I listened to it in eighth grade. One of my favorite things about music is that I can feel the meaning behind the lyrics and production, which is especially true for this song because I love the outro and melody so much. I rarely enjoy the closing track to most albums, since most of the time, they are slow, soft songs, but I find myself always coming back to the song because of the bridge. 

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