Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite “Aww” Moments In Books

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics

What a lovely topic, looking at the cute moments in our reading… moments that encapture a warm and loving relationship. And we don’t need to limit ourselves to romantic relationships and first kisses although there will probably be some of those! Let’s all remember to celebrate our friendships, our parent-child relationships, our relationships with siblings or those moments when we recognise and embrace our own identity… but for the sake of this list and because that is the mood I am in, let’s actually keep this to romantic moments.

If we delve into the classics briefly, Romeo and Juliet – for all my concerns of Romeo’s attitude to love and women generally, warning students that to view the play as a love story is akin to seeing Hamlet as a model for step parenting – does contain the most gorgeous moment when our lovers first meet

[To JULIET] If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.

Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell – The husband and Agnes

“What did you find?” he says to her.

“Nothing,” she replies. “Your heart.”

“That’s nothing?” he says, pretending to be outraged. “Nothing?” How could you say such a thing?”

She smiles at him, a faint smile, but he snatches her hand to his chest.

“And it’s your heart,” he says, “not mine.”

Whilst this book is utterly heart-rending, like a Shakespeare play it plays with fun, epic, mythic, fairytale and genuinely cute moments. Agnes and Shakespeare are a gorgeous couple, and Agnes’ otherness was glorious.

The Island of Missing Trees, Elif Shafak – Kostas and Defne

Love is the bold affirmation of hope. You don’t embrace hope when death and destruction are in command. You don’t put on your best dress and tuck a flower in your hair when you are surrounded by ruins and shards. You don’t lose your heart at a time when hearts are supposed to remain sealed, especially for those who are not of your religion, not of your language, not of your blood. You don’t fall in love in Cyprus in the summer of 1974. Not here, not now. And yet there they were, the two of them.

Kostas and Defne were wonderful together, almost a Romeo and Juliet relationship on opposing sides of the tensions on the fraught island of Cyprus – and yet they are one of those couples where the Romeo and Juliet comparison seems to do them a disservice.

The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters – Frances and Lillian

And that was all it took. They smiled at each other across the table, and some sort of shift occurred between them. There was a quickening, a livening – Frances could think of nothing to compare it to save some culinary process. It was like the white of an egg growing pearly in hot water, a milk sauce thickening in the pan. It was as subtle yet as tangible as that.

Just look how wonderfully tender and sweet that language is! Those similes, so domestic and intimate and personal! To be fair, the love between Frances and her new lodger Lillian does lead to tragedy but it is such a good book – for me, one of my favourite books from one of my favourite authors.

The House in the Cerulean Sea, T. J. Klune – Linus and Arthur

A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with. You may not live on the island, but you can’t tell me it’s not your home. Your bubble, Mr. Baker. It’s been popped. Why would you allow it to grow around you again?

Everything in this book is so cute: Linus Baker’s acceptance by the children, his acceptance by the community, his love for Arthur…

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir – Gideon and Harrow

I have tried to dismantle you, Gideon Nav! The Ninth House poisoned you, we trod you underfoot—I took you to this killing field as my slave—you refuse to die, and you pity me! Strike me down. You’ve won. I’ve lived my whole wretched life at your mercy, yours alone, and God knows I deserve to die at your hand. You are my only friend. I am undone without you.

However bonkers this series is – and it is gloriously bonkers – Gideon and Harrow worked in their complicated, complex strained and difficult relationship. Enemies to lovers as a trope does them a disservice! And Harrow’s final breakdown and confession of her feelings was wonderful!

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers

“Sissix,” Rosemary said. She squeezed Sissix’s hands, and did something that no one had ever done before. She raised Sissix’s fingers to her mouth and pressed her lips against the knuckles just once, letting them linger for a moment. Sissix had been given kisses before, from Kizzy and Jenks and Ashby – fast dry brushes against her cheek. This was different. It was slower, softer. It was an odd feeling, a soft feeling. She liked it. Rosemary pulled her lips back and smiled. “I get it.”

Stars, she really did.

Any relationship in this book – including the whole found family of The Wayfarer – was wonderful and cute, but Rosemary’s growth into a position where she was able to learn about Sissix’s family structures and to become a sexual partner was very tender.

Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones – Howl and Sophie

“I think we ought to live happily ever after,” and she thought he meant it. Sophie knew that living happily ever after with Howl would be a good deal more hair-raising than any storybook made it sound, though she was determined to try. “It should be hair-raising,” added Howl.
“And you’ll exploit me,” Sophie said.
“And then you’ll cut up all my suits to teach me….”

But Sophie and Howl were holding one another’s hands and smiling and smiling, quite unable to stop.

The end of this wonderful novel is so busy as almost every character that we have been introduced to slips into Howl’s castle for the finale. And amongst all the bustle and business, Howl and Sophie holding each others gaze and hands forms a quiet cute calm space in the cacophony.

One Last Stop, Casey McQuiston – August and Jane

I fell in love with you the day that I met you, and then I fell in love with the person you remembered you are. I got to fall in love with you twice. That’s— that’s magic. You’re the first thing I’ve believed in since— since I don’t even remember, okay, you’re— you’re movies and destiny and every stupid, impossible thing, and it’s not because of the fucking train, it’s because of you. It’s because you fight and you care and you’re always kind but never easy, and you won’t let anything take that away from you. You’re my hero, Jane. I don’t care if you think you’re not one. You are.

There is again so much cute in this novel – the found family and community August is adopted by in New York – but her and Jane are so cute together. And really rather raunchy.

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion – Don and Rosie

I haven’t changed my mind. That’s the point! I want to spend my life with you even though it’s totally irrational. And you have short earlobes. Socially and genetically there’s no reason for me to be attracted to you. The only logical conclusion is that I must be in love with you.

The autistic-coded controlled professor and the chaotic whirlwind that is everything he was not looking for. The outcome was never in doubt but really sweet and cute.

So, once more, thank you for taking the time to read and consider these cute “aww…” moments. Let me know what you have read and what you thought!

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

November 22: Thankful Freebie
November 29: Cozy Reads (Share books that give off a cozy vibe, whether through atmosphere, setting, or some other factor. Please tell us why they’re cozy for you, too!)
December 6: Freebie
December 13: Books on My Winter 2022-2023 To-Read List
December 20: Books I Hope Santa Brings This Year
December 27: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection (What books did you get as presents this holiday season? Or what did you buy with gift cards?)

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