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Classic tales top list of greatest love stories

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - When it comes to love stories, Brangelina has nothing on Heathcliff and Catherine.

A couple enjoys the sunny weather while sitting on the edge of the lake of Zurich, in this March 13, 2007 file photo. When it comes to love stories, Brangelina has nothing on Heathcliff and Catherine. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, written in the 1800s, tops the New York Public Library’s list of greatest love stories of all time.

“Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy takes second place while Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is in third spot. The film “Casablanca” ranks fourth and Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is in fifth.

When it comes to matters of the heart, Bronte and her classic counterparts have age-old wisdom to share.

“Curl up with one of these (books) and you might emerge a little bit wiser and have a better date next week or a breakthrough in a relationship that you’re in,” said Carrie Sloan, editor-in-chief of Tango magazine (, which has published the guide.

“Instead of trying to glean wisdom from Britney’s (Spears) latest meltdown, it’s looking back to philosophers and authors who have thought this through, and whose stories have stood the test of time.”

Rounding out the top 10 is Boris Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago”, Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”, Victor Hugo’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, the film “Dangerous Liaisons” and Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”.

Sloan said a lot of people are reading about celebrity dramas in weekly magazines but the stories on the list develop the plot and the characters.

“It’s a little more thoughtful, it’s a little more in-depth and you might emerge with a relationship epiphany as a result,” she added.

While many people may have seen the film version of the list’s love stories, one librarian hopes it sparks a renewed interest in the classics -- and libraries.

“If people have seen the movie versions of Jane Austen or the movie version of Romeo and Juliet, they might be tempted with a list recommended by librarians just to go back and explore the original,” said Robert Armitage, humanities bibliographer at the New York Public Library.

“It draws people to reading again.”