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All you need is love songs: 12 novelists pick their favourite romantic tracks

Writers who know a thing or two about matters of the heart on the love songs they adore – from Sondheim’s bittersweet portrait of a romance sceptic to Roberta Flack’s timeless expression of hope

Yes, it can be inconvenient and invasive and exhausting, maybe all the first kisses and playlists and poems boil down to two people farting on each other in their sleep, but it’s more than that, too: it’s someone to experience life with, to help you understand yourself and the world, to teach you things and treat you gently and call you out and make you laugh – to vary your days, as Robert says. Exquisitely beautiful, intimate, full of pathos, it’s an entire relationship in four verses, as per Simon’s gift: their register office wedding on a not especially nice day weather-wise, moving into a musty apartment with plumbing issues, and the lovers catching persistent colds off each other while they cling to each other through that long winter and for a while after. My dislike of love songs began at school discos, when the “slow set” – a mortified arms-length shuffle with a boy around a freezing Gaelic Athletic Association hall to the strains of Classic by Adrian Gurvitz and Honey by Bobby Goldsboro – made me want to rip my own face off.

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