The Greatest "Romance, Tragedy" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 313 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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The Romance category of books typically involves stories that revolve around romantic relationships between two or more characters. These stories often explore themes of love, passion, and intimacy, and may include elements of drama, suspense, or humor. Romance novels can range from sweet and innocent to steamy and erotic, and may be set in a variety of time periods and locations. Overall, the Romance genre offers readers a chance to escape into a world of love and romance, where anything is possible.


Tragedy is a genre of literature that explores the darker aspects of human nature and the human experience. It typically involves a protagonist who is faced with a series of challenges and obstacles that ultimately lead to their downfall or demise. Tragic stories often deal with themes of loss, grief, and the struggle to find meaning in a world that can be cruel and unforgiving. Despite their often bleak subject matter, tragic stories can be deeply moving and thought-provoking, offering readers a powerful glimpse into the complexities of the human condition.

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  1. 1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

    This classic novel is a tale of love, revenge and social class set in the Yorkshire moors. It revolves around the intense, complex relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, an orphan adopted by Catherine's father. Despite their deep affection for each other, Catherine marries Edgar Linton, a wealthy neighbor, leading Heathcliff to seek revenge on the two families. The story unfolds over two generations, reflecting the consequences of their choices and the destructive power of obsessive love.

    The 10th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

    Set in 19th-century Russia, this novel revolves around the life of Anna Karenina, a high-society woman who, dissatisfied with her loveless marriage, embarks on a passionate affair with a charming officer named Count Vronsky. This scandalous affair leads to her social downfall, while parallel to this, the novel also explores the rural life and struggles of Levin, a landowner who seeks the meaning of life and true happiness. The book explores themes such as love, marriage, fidelity, societal norms, and the human quest for happiness.

    The 14th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    This classic novel follows the emotional journey of a young artist named Werther, who falls deeply in love with a beautiful woman named Lotte, only to discover that she is already engaged to another man. His unrequited love and deep despair eventually lead him to take his own life. The story, told through letters written by Werther, explores themes of love, loss, and the tragic consequences of emotional turmoil.

    The 267th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Atonement by Ian McEwan

    Atonement is a powerful novel that explores the consequences of a young girl's false accusation. The narrative follows the lives of three characters, the accuser, her older sister, and the sister's lover, who is wrongly accused. This false accusation irrevocably alters their lives, leading to the accused's imprisonment and eventual enlistment in World War II, while the sisters grapple with guilt, estrangement, and their own personal growth. The novel is a profound exploration of guilt, forgiveness, and the destructive power of misinterpretation.

    The 272nd Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

    The novel revolves around the beautiful and virtuous Clarissa Harlowe, a young woman from a wealthy family who is pursued by the villainous Robert Lovelace. Despite her attempts to maintain her virtue and independence, she is tricked into running away with Lovelace and is subsequently held against her will. Lovelace's relentless pursuit and Clarissa's steadfast resistance culminate in her tragic end, making the novel a complex exploration of power, morality, and the vulnerability of women in society.

    The 319th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

    This classic novel is set in the rustic rural backdrop of Egdon Heath and revolves around the life of Clym Yeobright, a successful diamond merchant who returns to his native land from Paris. His return sparks a chain of events involving love, ambition, betrayal, and tragedy. His love interest, Eustacia Vye, dreams of escaping the monotonous rural life, while his mother disapproves of their relationship. The novel explores the themes of love, fate, chance, and the clash between individuals' aspirations and societal expectations.

    The 361st Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

    This classic play tells the tragic love story of two young individuals from feuding families in Verona, Italy. Despite their families' ongoing conflict, the pair secretly marry and vow to be together, no matter the cost. Their commitment leads to a series of unfortunate events, including misunderstandings, banishments, and ultimately, their untimely deaths. Their demise, however, reconciles their feuding families, leaving a poignant message about the destructive power of hate and the redemptive power of love.

    The 663rd Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

    "Snow Country" is a poignant tale of a tragic love affair between a wealthy city-dweller and a provincial geisha. Set in a remote hot-spring town in the snowy Japanese mountains, the story explores the depth of human emotions, loneliness, and the ephemeral nature of beauty and love. The narrative is filled with vivid imagery and symbolism, reflecting the melancholic and transient beauty of the snow country, and the inevitable fate of the characters.

    The 843rd Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Beauty and Sadness by Yasunari Kawabata

    A renowned novelist in Tokyo is drawn back into the life of his first love, Otoko, who he had a passionate affair with when she was just 15. Now a successful painter, she lives with a young woman named Keiko, who is deeply devoted to her. As the novelist becomes entangled in their lives once again, a complex web of love, jealousy, and resentment unfolds. The novel is a poignant exploration of the enduring themes of memory, love, and loss.

    The 2037th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    This novel tells the story of Anthony Patch, a 1920s socialite and presumptive heir to a tycoon's fortune, and his wife Gloria. As they await the inheritance of his grandfather's estate, their reckless marriage deteriorates into a cycle of alcohol, parties, and squabbles, leading to their downfall. The narrative provides an exploration of the themes of greed, status, and the fleeting nature of youth and beauty.

    The 2178th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Silk by Alessandro Baricco

    "Silk" is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of a 19th-century French silkworm merchant who travels to Japan for business. During his travels, he becomes enamored with a mysterious woman. His unrequited love for her haunts him for the rest of his life, even as he returns to France and continues his life there. The novel explores themes of love, longing, and the profound impact that brief encounters can have on one's life.

    The 2579th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Orpheus and Eurydice by Unknown

    "Orpheus and Eurydice" is a poignant tale of love and loss from ancient Greek mythology. The story follows the renowned musician Orpheus, who, stricken with grief after the death of his wife Eurydice, ventures into the underworld to bring her back to life. His musical talents charm Hades and Persephone, the rulers of the underworld, who allow Eurydice to return with him to the world of the living on one condition: he must not look back at her as they leave. Tragically, Orpheus does look back, causing Eurydice to vanish back into the underworld forever. This classic myth explores themes of love, trust, and the irresistible urge to defy fate.

    The 4708th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge

    "Laughing Boy" is a novel set in the early 20th century that explores the life of a young Navajo man who falls in love with a beautiful, educated woman from his tribe. The narrative delves into their relationship, the clash of traditional and modern cultures, and the struggle for identity amidst societal changes. The story portrays the protagonist's journey towards self-discovery and his struggle to reconcile his love for the woman with his commitment to his tribe's customs and traditions.

    The 7288th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera

    "Butterfly Burning" is a powerful and evocative novel set in Zimbabwe during the 1940s. The story follows the life of Phephelaphi, a young woman who dreams of escaping her small village and the confines of societal expectations. As she navigates the complexities of love, loss, and her own desires, Phephelaphi's journey becomes a poignant exploration of the human spirit and the quest for freedom in a deeply oppressive world.

    The 8548th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.