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What authors read on Valentine's Day

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I carry a Pablo Neruda poem in my wallet, so of course I'm a fan, but who is better for Valentine's Day than him? Wherever your heart dwells, Neruda writes for you in "Twenty Love Poems And A Song Of Despair." He expresses both the driving passions of lust and love, and the black hole of heartbreak in this thin volume, complete with romantic Picasso illustrations: "My words rained over you, stroking you./ A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body./ I go so far as to think you own the universe."

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Stephen Amidon 's most recent novel, "Human Capital," was published in the fall.

"The Sun Also Rises," Hemingway's first novel, remains one of the best ever written by an American; it is also one of the most romantic. Paris and Spain in the 1920s make the perfect backdrop for this story of impossible love between the physically wounded war veteran Jake Barnes and the emotionally scarred Brett Ashley, two unforgettable members of a lost generation. His final words to her - "Isn't it pretty to think so?" - remain among the most heartbreaking ever put to page.

Kate Grenville published a funny romantic novel called "The Idea of Perfection" in 2002.

My all-time favorite romantic book is that classic, "Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen. Austen is so elegant in her placing of the forces in the novel - she makes sure that what attracts the lovers to each other are the very qualities that also drive them apart. For the reader, that sets up a rich and satisfying suspense. Austen's tone - wry, ironic, laughing at her lovers while having deep affection for them - makes this a book I read and re-read and feel the same relief every time when everything turns out okay.

Marc Estrin is the author of "Insect Dreams." His new novel, "The Education of Arnold Hitler," will be published in the spring.

Surely, the most charming scene of romance is Levin and Kitty's spelling courtship in "Anna Karenina," Book IV, Chapter 13. But don't try this at home: You won't be understood, and you'd probably be nailed for robbing, or being robbed from, the cradle. The book as a whole is the richest study of male-female love I know - love as longing, love cursed, love misprized, and of course, the love of Kitty and Levin.

Katherine Govier 's most recent novel, "Creation," was published last year.

First published in the 1940s, "By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept," by Elizabeth Smart, is a short, lyrical novel about the young heroine's love affair with a married man and their flight from the law. It has been a cult favorite for decades. The prose is heart-stopping; love spills over the whole world, turning an autumn view out a train window into "a plenitude not to be borne." People keep trying to film the novel - and by extension Smart's own life story - but no one has been able to equal the book's sheer bravado.

Brad Leithauser 's most recent novel, "Darlington's Fall," was written entirely in verse.

Can anything be more romantic than the story of Pygmalion, the sculptor who fell so deeply in love with his work that she came alive? It's hard, anyway, to think of another story that has so variedly worked so magnificently: as a poem in Ovid's Metamorphosis some 2,000 years ago; as a play in one of the great modern comedies, Shaw's "Pygmalion"; as a musical in the ever-bright "My Fair Lady"; and as the root-tale of two of my favorite novels by living writers, Stanislaw Lem's science fiction masterpiece "Solaris" and Richard Powers' "Galatea 2.2." As Adam discovered, the love that derives from you may in the end turn out to be bigger than you are.

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