10 modern love stories

Take your National Book Token on a date to a bookshop! Modern novels show us what love is like in the 21st century, from first love to love that crosses borders, from fictional worlds to the real world. We've recommended 10 beautiful contemporary stories to fall in love with this Valentine’s Day.

Which love stories sweep you off your feet? Tell us in the comments below.



Thirst by Kerry Hudson

Finding love in the unlikeliest of places always makes for a good story, and in this hard-hitting yet tender novel, Alena and Dave do just that. Alena seeks an escape from poverty in Siberia; Dave dreams of travelling. When their paths collide in London, it seems they have little in common – and both have too much to lose. Will love be enough to set them both free?

The Kiss Quotient

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Stella is smart, successful and driven, and thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe, but becoming an expert in data hasn't left much time for affairs of the heart (and her Asperger's doesn’t help either). Deciding it’s time she got some practice with an expert, she hires Michael Phan, an escort, to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Don't You Forget About Me

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

McFarlane's romcom is about Georgina and Life at 30. Georgina is fired from her job and discovers her boyfriend’s cheating all on the same day. If only there was someone out there who truly loved her, who she truly deserved. Twelve years ago a boy wrote four words for her: "I love your laugh". Now that boy is her new boss – could this be fate? Only trouble is, he doesn’t remember Georgina at all...

Exit West

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Nadia and Saeed are just two young people falling in love… but when civil war comes to their city, their lives are torn apart. This powerful novel follows their journey from the Middle East to London and beyond, asking what it takes for a person to leave everything behind, and what a world without borders would look like.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives at the Dead Letters Depot, who spend their days solving the mysteries left behind by smudged addresses, missing postcodes, torn packages and more. When he discovers letters addressed only to "My Great Love" he sets out on the biggest mystery of all – and starts to wonder if he could be that great love, after all.


Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Arthur Less is recently single and finds his latest book rejected by his publisher. To top it off, his now-ex announces his engagement to someone else. Not admitting how heartbroken he is, Less sets off on a round-the-world tour to every literary event he’s been invited to, neatly sidestepping the wedding and his own impending 50th birthday. This Pulitzer-winning novel lambasts the publishing industry brilliantly, but still has room for a lot of heart.

Normal People

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne are childhood friends from the same town in rural Ireland, who both get places to study at Trinity College Dublin. They’re from opposing worlds, but as their connection begins grows despite their differences, Normal People reminds us what it’s like to be young and in love.


Proud by Various

Celebrating first love in all its forms, this anthology features the first flutterings of romance for LGBTQ+ teens. From a Chinese lesbian fairytale, and a trans teen starting a new life with her boyfriend, to a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling (with popular new girl Darcy Pemberley), and even what to do when your prom proposal gets overshadowed by gay penguins, Proud has romance for everyone under the rainbow.

The Bones of Grace

The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam

This romantic tragedy about love and lonelines, migration and conflicted identity, follows Zubaida on a journey to unearth the past, from the corridors of Harvard to the scorching deserts of Pakistan, and to the man she loves, but whose heart she may never win back.



Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Childhood sweethearts Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West – but their lives take different paths. 15 years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion.

Which stories about modern romance have you fallen in love with?

Congratulations to Hilda Hazel White who won a £30/€35 National Book Token for commenting. The competition is now closed, but you can still comment with your most highly-anticipated books below - we'd love to hear about them!

National Book Tokens gift cards can be bought and spent in thousands of bookshops across the UK and Ireland, including independents, Waterstones, WHSmith, Easons, and Blackwells, and can also be spent online and on eBooks. Find your nearest bookshop.

Terms and Conditions

1 x winner will receive a £30/€35 National Book Token

  • No purchase necessary.
  • Only one entry per person will be accepted.
  • The prizes are non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives. The Promoter reserves the right to amend the specification of the prize or offer an alternative prize.
  • Closing date 11:59pm, Thursday 28th February 2019.
  • The competition is open to UK and Republic of Ireland residents except employees of the Booksellers Association and Book Tokens Ltd., and employees of participating bookshops.
  • Entrants must be aged 18 or over.
  • Entrants agree to Book Tokens Ltd. using their details in post-competition publicity. Your details will not be used for any other purpose, or passed onto any third parties, unless specified. Winners’ details may be shared securely with a third-party in order to fulfil the dispatch of competition prizes.
  • We will contact winners by email. In the event of a winner not responding after 14 days, we reserve the right to allocate the prize to another winner.
  • The promoters’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Unsuccessful entrants will not be contacted.
  • Book Tokens Ltd. will only use your email address and other personal information as outlined in our privacy policy.
  • Promoter: Book Tokens Ltd, 6 Bell Yard, London, WC2A 2JR.

How does Caboodle work?

How does Caboodle work?

Discover more about the rewards programme from National Book Tokens and how to collect Caboodle Points.

How Caboodle Works
Caboodlers' Corner

Caboodlers' Corner

Browse quizzes, reading lists, and recommendations from our guest booksellers.

Caboodlers' Corner
National book token cookie themed gift card

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single visitor in possession of a good website, must be in want of a cookie."
Pride and Prejudice* by Jane Austen

We use cookies to make our website work, understand how visitors use our website, and display relevant marketing to you.