Anna K, my modern reimagining of Tolstoy’s classic masterpiece Anna Karenina, was a chance for me to bring one of my favorite love stories to an entirely new audience. Reading Anna Karenina as a teenager was my first window into the power of romantic love. I had not experienced it yet, but the journey that is falling in and out of love spoke to my angsty teenage heart. I learned that along with all the joys and elation that love brings, it can also bring heartbreak and tragedy. It’s this rollercoaster that makes love stories so exciting to read and re-read, no matter the setting.

Anna K

Anna K

So, naturally, the top of my list of the 5 greatest love stories of all time would of course be Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. It shows a depth and breadth of so many differing perspectives of romantic love. It truly offers something for everyone.

My second choice is a book I read in high school called Love Story by Eric Segal. It was one of my parents’ favorite movies, and when I found the book on our bookshelf I picked it up and devoured it in one sitting. It’s another sad ending, but that made the love story that much more powerful for me. (It also didn’t hurt that the main character is also named Jenny).

Endless Love by Scott Spencer. Okay, we have a running theme here, because this is another book I read as a teenager (so many years ago), though this one is more of a cautionary tale of the dangers of obsessive love. I have a penchant for stories where we really get into a guy’s head when it comes to love. It’s comforting to know that love doesn’t care what gender you are; it devastates everyone equally.

I’m going to have to call it a tie for this one. Women in Love by DH Lawrence is a tale about two sisters and their extremely different outlooks when it comes to romantic love. One sister loves the stability and calmness of marriage, while the other sister’s love life is always stormy and dramatic. Love is different for everyone and for every relationship. I didn’t know that when I first read this book, but boy, do I know it now as an adult.

The second book in fourth place for me is a more recent book that I didn’t read as a teen but is instead about teenagers: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I knew I was late to hop on the bandwagon with this one, but one night when I couldn’t sleep, I picked it up out of curiosity. It did not help me fall asleep, because instead I was up most of the night unable to put it down. It’s another sad story (again, no surprise here) that really effectively transports you to how it feels to be young and in love for the first time.

This one’s a bit odd, but love is love, right? The love between the narrator and his two dogs (Old Dan and Little Anna) in Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawes really spoke to me as a child, as I’ve always been obsessed with dogs. It was the first book that made me cry. Right now I have a 135 pound Newfoundland named Gemma and her fictional doppelganger appears in Anna K. Love is special because it has a profound way of being both deeply personal yet universal, and I believe in celebrating love in all its many iterations. For me, there’s few things better than losing myself when I read a good love story with a big furry dog nearby.

 @jennyleewrites