Whether you adore or have never touched his work, one thing is irrefutable: Nicholas Sparks knows how to write a romance novel. His depictions of intense—and at times agonizing—courtships and torturous heartbreak speak to many of our own experiences of love and loss. With that in mind, we reviewed some of Sparks’ best-sellers and compiled a list of the best Nicholas Sparks books.
The novel is set in pristine North Carolina in 1946, as a young man named Noah Calhoun restores an austere, abandoned home he’s recently purchased. His efforts are written about in local papers, which capture the attention of his long-lost summer love, Allie Nelson. They met fourteen years prior in New Bern and fell deeply in love before she moved away. Allie’s very wealthy parents had disapproved of her relationship with Noah, a blue-collar lumberyard worker. Though Noah had written Allie 365 letters over the course of a year, her mother had kept them from her.
One summer’s day in 1946, Allie tracks down Noah, still madly in love with her, at his home. What follows is equal parts tragedy and romance—the narrator of the story reveals himself to be Noah, living at a nursing home and caring for Allie, who is dying of Alzheimer’s. This novel is a testament to the power of love to overcome uncertainty, social class differences, and, ultimately, even the most devastating of diagnoses.
Charismatic Landon Carter falls in love with an unlikely girl: deeply religious and introverted Jamie Sullivan is the opposite of anyone he’s ever dated. As class president, Landon is hesitant to take Jamie to the school dance. Jamie’s kind and generous nature wins Landon over, despite his friends’ taunts. Landon is increasingly drawn to Jamie and spends more and more time with her, soon proclaiming his love for her. Much to Landon’s shock and dismay, Jamie reveals she is dying from untreatable leukemia and is deteriorating quickly.
The impact of Jamie’s pure love on Landon is irrevocable, but perhaps what makes her character even more impactful is that she is based on Nicholas Sparks’ sister, who also died very young from the same disease.
Safe Haven is a gripping tale about a mysterious young woman named Katie, who moves to a small town called Southport, North Carolina. We soon find out that her real name is Erin, but that she has assumed another identity to avoid being found by her abusive ex-husband, Kevin, a police chief. She is determined to live a quiet, reserved life, but soon befriends her charming widowed neighbor, Alex. As she grows closer to Alex and to his kids, it appears that Katie has escaped the wrath of her alcoholic ex-husband. But as Kevin’s rage grows, his determination to find Erin only intensifies. Nicholas Sparks’ takes this dark history and restores it with love and the courage to believe in second chances.