There's a little known gem of a book by the "Anne of Green Gables" series called "The Blue Castle". Its about a girl who's been under her family's thumb her whole life and is basically miserable except when she escapes into her own imagination. Then *something* happens and she realizes life is short so she decided to start LIVING, makes some rash decisions, becomes happy and eventually falls in love. I really loved the lead character because she was so flawed and human, and not particularly beautiful (or at least not in an obvious way) and she falls in love with a not so extraordinary gentleman who's a bit rough around the edges. The end is a little indulgent but its a nice little read.
realistic/fiction/romance? >>> Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, is a must then as for realistic/fiction/action (and maybe a spark of romance, but not much): >>> Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa >>> Shogun by James Clavell All awesome books... tho none of the settings are contemporary.