I’m pretty sure I’m in love with Nicholas Sparks. His writing reaches the heart, plays the mind, teaches the soul. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this author is his ability to reach men and women, a feat not to go unappreciated.

I have read many of his books, including The Notebook, Dear John, and more recently Safe Haven. Most end as any romantic novel would: the guy gets the girl, the two share a happy life filled with love. Some, however, are not so joyous and even result in death.

And I believe that the mixture of endings as well as the reality of the writing is what grabs readers of both sexes. Men don’t want to read a sappy tale where everything is falsely perfect; no conflict, no pain, and no real emotion turns men, and even some women, off.

But take it from me: there is plenty of these things in Sparks’ novels. People react with anger when they feel betrayed; children argue with their parents; women go into a depressed downward spiral when the one they love dies. It’s reality in written form. Nowhere are there fake nights on a canoe in the middle of mirror-still lake blanketed by stars and a full moon.

Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of romantic moments, but they are not so spun away from life’s ups and downs that the reader can’t find it believable.

Guys, still don’t think you want to read Sparks because your girl dragged you to the film version of The Notebook and you thought you would vomit? Well you should rethink. One catches only a glimpse of the real conflict that Noah and Ali go through in the movie. The book gives a more uppity and terrifying mother, a more distrusting fiancée, and a poorer Noah, all of which are more true to the pins and needles of life.

An added bonus? Something to talk about with your girlfriend that you both enjoy.