Keeping Up With The Penguins

Reviews For The Would-Be Booklover

No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy – Mark Hodkinson

Mark Hodkinson grew up in working class heartland, in a house full of bibliophobes (yes, there is such a thing). His family didn’t see “the point” in reading, had only one book in the house, and yet Hodkinson still learned the power of stories. He now has over 3,500 books in his own home, he works with books every day, and he’s written this one, No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy. It’s a memoir about where we come from and why books matter.

As Hodkinson lays out in the Prologue, he intended No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy to be a book about delayed gratification, and the psycho-philosophical underpinnings of accumulating a personal library, though it ended up being about so much more than that. He offers (roughly chronological) personal history, family history, and social history, interwoven with trivia and anecdotes about books, authors, and publishing.

No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy has a lot to offer any book hoarder or bibliophile. For me, I was relieved to realise that my own personal library (now at 900+ titles) is perfectly reasonable… but equally terrified to learn new-to-me terms like BABLE (Book Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy). This was a thoroughly enjoyable and highly readable overview of another lifelong bibliophile’s development, and I’m endlessly grateful to Canongate (via Allen & Unwin) for sending through a review copy.

7 Books About Book Clubs

Book clubs are marvellous things. People getting together to talk about what they’re reading is amazing in itself, but these conversations have led to sexual revolutions, legislative overhauls, and all manner of social change. Given how much writers love reading, and how many of them belong to book clubs (or run their own!), it’s not surprising that book clubs have featured in some of their novels. Here are seven books about book clubs.

7 Books About Book Clubs - Book List - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society began on the small and unassuming English Channel island of Guernsey, when its residents found themselves in need of an alibi. They were busted breaking curfew by German soldiers during the darkest days of the WWII occupation, and they needed a reasonable excuse. But despite this spurious beginning, the society became a beacon for the eccentric literature lovers of the island, and years later – when the war is over – writer Juliet Ashton finds herself drawn into their story.

Reading Lolita In Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Reading Lolita In Tehran - Azar Nafisi - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Most books about book clubs are fiction, but this one is something special. Reading Lolita In Tehran is a memoir by Iranian academic Azar Nafisi. She taught Western literature in Tehran in the mid-90s (a particularly fraught career choice in a notoriously troubled part of the world). After resigning from her university job, she started a book club with seven of her best and most committed students – all women. In her living room, every Thursday morning, they would meet to discuss great works of Western literature. Her story offers “a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran”. Read my full review of Reading Lolita In Tehran here.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires - Grady Hendrix - Keeping Up With The Penguins

You won’t find a hook more delightful in books about book clubs than that to be found in The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires. Patricia Campbell’s book club is the bright spot in her otherwise drab life. She gathers with other true crime-obsessed Charleston women to talk everything from Bundy to Manson, but little do they all know that a far creepier crime is going to unfold in their very own suburb. Patricia is the first to notice something strange about her neighbour’s nephew, but he’s already insinuated himself into her life. Hendrix is at his best in this sharp story about neighbourly kindness gone wrong.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Joy Fowler - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Some book clubs (and, as you’ll see, books about book clubs) work because they hang on a theme. You get no prizes for guessing that in The Jane Austen Book Club, six people gather to read and discuss the works of Jane Austen, though. As obvious as the premise might seem, Karen Joy Fowler has plenty of surprises for you in this brilliant, insightful story. Each section focuses on one of the book club members, whose lives have strange echoes of the experiences of Austen’s protagonists. It’s a beautifully drawn parallel, and Austen fans will delight in this contemporary take.

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows - Balli Kaur Jaswal - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Of all the books about book clubs on this list, Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows undoubtedly has the most intriguing title! The story begins with Nikki, the daughter of Indian immigrants living in West London, doing everything she can to distance herself from her parents’ culture. When her father dies, however, Nikki tries to overcome the resultant financial obstacles by taking a job teaching creative writing to Sikh widows – and inadvertently starts an underground book club, where basic literacy is best learned through racy stories you’d want to keep under your mattress.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Most books about book clubs focus on women – which is why The Bromance Book Club was such a breath of fresh air. “The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.” Baseball player Gavin Scott tumbles head-first into a crisis of confidence when he finds out his wife is divorcing him. Turns out, she’s been faking her orgasms for the entire duration of their marriage. Ouch! In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship (and ignite their sex life), he joins Nashville’s all-alpha-male romance book club. Will the wisdom of Courting The Countess help Gavin unleash his inner Fabio?

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I Ever - Joshilyn Jackson - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Amy Whey hosts a monthly book club in her quiet neighbourhood of Pensacola, Florida. She’s exactly what you’d expect in a “suburban mom” protagonist, and she loves her sweet-and-wholesome family more than anything. Her perfectly normal life of simple pleasures is all up-ended, however, when a Cher-lookalike stranger, Roux, shows up to book club, and a modified game of Never Have I Ever opens a can of worms. A far cry from the sweet-as-pie books about book clubs that top best-seller lists, this suspenseful thriller will have you wondering what secrets your fellow readers might be hiding. Read my full review of Never Have I Ever here.

The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan

Do you know how to play mahjong? I don’t, but I can tell you that The Joy Luck Club is structured similarly to the game, four parts with four chapters apiece to create sixteen interlocking stories. Granted, I only know that because I looked it up, but it’s a start, wouldn’t you say?

The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins
Get The Joy Luck Club here.
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The stories revolve around eight women: four Chinese mothers, and their four American(ised) daughters. These immigrant families all came, from their various points of origin, to San Francisco, where they met at the First Chinese Baptist Church. Suyuan Woo is the founding member of what they call The Joy Luck Club (for which the book gets its name). It’s a regular appointment to play mahjong, feast on good food, share stories and celebrate being alive (and, later, play the stockmarket).

In the first section, we learn that Suyuan Woo has sadly passed away, and her daughter Jing-Mei Woo is taking her place at the mahjong table. She was once the wife of an officer, forced to flee her Kweilin home during WWII and abandon her twin daughters along the way. The three other mothers in The Joy Luck Club have equally sad stories. They’re all around the same theme, too: life is hard, tradition is good (except when it sucks), and kids are ungrateful.

The only narrative propulsion throughout The Joy Luck Club, really, is Jing-Mei Woo’s attempt to find the twin daughters her mother was forced to abandon decades prior. The other ladies of the club had a letter confirming that they were alive and safe, but they don’t yet know that their mother is dead.

So, eight stories, for each of the eight women. It was hard to place the stories as you were reading them. Aside from the respective character’s name at the beginning of “their” chapter, I found myself relying heavily on context clues to work out when and where each story was taking place (and how it connected to the other stories in The Joy Luck Club, though I’ll happily admit that sometimes that thread eluded me).

I won’t pretend to be any kind of expert on China (or Chinese culture, Chinese language, Chinese tradition, the Chinese diaspora, Chinese medicine, or even Chinese food), so all I’m relying on is my gut feeling in saying this… but the stories in The Joy Luck Club felt OFF, in the way Tan depicted them. I struggle to put my finger on exactly why, but something about the characters and their lives on the page just didn’t feel authentic.

I read, after finishing the book, that although The Joy Luck Club sold well and was very popular with many readers, there were a number of critics who reproached Tan for perpetuating racist stereotypes about Chinese Americans. Frank Chin, one of the pioneers of Chinese American literature, attributed The Joy Luck Club‘s popularity to this pandering approach; according to him, depicting Chinese culture as “backwards, cruel, and misogynistic” guaranteed that the book would be received well by mainstream America. He also criticised Tan’s invention of Chinese “folk tales” for the book, calling them “Confucian culture as seen through the interchangeable Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese mix (depending which is the yellow enemy of the moment) of Hollywood”. Zing!

The mother/daughter relationships are well fleshed out, though – complex and multifaceted, an impression enhanced by the alternating generational accounts in the book’s structure. It’s a commendable representation of the search for identity and inherited trauma. Critics praised this aspect of The Joy Luck Club, with Nancy Willard saying: “Amy Tan’s special accomplishment in this novel is not her ability to show us how mothers and daughters hurt each other, but how they ultimately forgive each other.”

And, ultimately, I liked the philosophy of the club itself, the Joy Luck Club – making a space in one’s life to be deliberately, determinedly happy, even when the world is falling to shit. We could all use a bit of that, couldn’t we? Unfortunately, the titular club only really appears in the first couple of chapters of The Joy Luck Club; it’s barely mentioned after that.

All told, The Joy Luck Club wasn’t really what I was expecting. It was fine, I’m sure some find it deep and impactful, but it’s not one I’ll be thrusting into your hands or re-reading myself. In fact, I think reading the opening chapter as a short story by itself would make it much more powerful, so maybe give that a go instead.

My favourite Amazon reviews of The Joy Luck Club:

  • “This isn’t advice on how to raise children.” – Lok An
  • “The kindle version sucks. You can’t even burn it for warmth.” – NYAAH!
  • “This book is the absolutely worst ever. The Dr. Seuss books are better than this. Amy Tan needs to step up her game because this was a joke. Some of these stories makes no sense and you can tell that Amy Tan was high while making this book. Needs to be banned from every bookstore around the world including Antarctica and North Korea. The Bible is miles better than this s***.” – Hans Guzman
  • “If you don’t know any Asian American people, you will love this book.” – nico

This All Come Back Now – Mykaela Saunders

It’s thrilling to have the opportunity to read and review a world first (thank you UQP Books for the review copy!). This All Come Back Now is the very first collection of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander speculative fiction – written, curated, edited, and designed from top to bottom by First Nations people. How cool is that?

The collection’s curator and editor, Mykaela Saunders, offers an illuminating Overture at the outset. She makes clear that it’s important we correctly hierarchise the labels we apply to this collection of work: they are First Nations stories first, stories that center and celebrate First Nations culture, community, and country, using spec-fic literary techniques and tropes.

I was thrilled to see that This All Come Back Now included work from some of my favourite local writers – including Evelyn Araluen and Alison Whittaker – as well as a bunch of new-to-me names. I was truly captivated by Ellen Van Neerven’s Water, and I found Adam Thompson’s Your Own Aboriginie brilliantly unsettling in the lead-up to the federal election. As with so many of the stories in this collection, it wasn’t far enough beyond the pale for comfort.

I’m sure other reviewers will provide an excellent run-down of the trigger warnings (racism, obviously, and violence, mental illness, etc), but I selfishly wanted to add my own traditional heads-up regarding the death of a dog in John Morrisey’s Five Minutes (it’s an excellent story, a highlight of the collection, but it helps to know what’s coming).

Ultimately, though, I think it’s important that you don’t rely on my (white) reading of This All Come Back Now. Listen to First Nations readers when they share their thoughts, and read it for yourself to learn and understand. This carefully curated collection is, of course, by and for First Nations people, but it’s required reading for all who live in the colony.

Timely reminder: Keeping Up With The Penguins is a project undertaken on the lands of the Gadigal people, of the Eora nation.

23 Fun Romantic Comedy Books

I don’t know if it’s the state of the world, or a side-effect of binge watching Bridgerton, maybe an over-correction after reading American Psycho, but lately I’ve been really into reading FUN romantic comedy books. I’m here for the tropey classics – enemies-to-lovers, fake-dating, love triangles – and the more subversive recent releases that throw the rule-book out the window. Just in case you’re in the same mood, looking for some JOY in your reading or something DELIGHTFUL to take to the beach this summer, here’s a list of fun romantic comedy books guaranteed to make you believe in a happily ever after.

23 Fun Romantic Comedy Books - Book List - Keeping Up With The Penguins
Here’s something fun: if you buy any of these books through an affiliate link on this page, I’ll earn a small commission.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

As the title suggests, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine… if your definition of “completely fine” includes a lot of vodka and frozen pizza. Her social skills lack polish (to put it mildly), so she finds it easiest to stick to a regimented life of work and alone-time. Everything changes when Eleanor winds up in the path of Raymond, the bumbling-but-big-hearted IT guy who shows her that maybe she can aim for more in life than just “fine”. This is one of those oddball-meets-oddball romantic comedy books that will stay with you.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Anita Loos - Books Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

It’s a travesty that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – one of the most wonderful, hilarious, and insightful romantic comedy books of the 20th century – lives under the inconceivably large shadow cast by The Great Gatsby, simply for being published in the Jazz Age. It’s premised on beautiful blonde Lorelei Lee deciding to try her hand at writing a diary, because a gentleman friend suggests that her thoughts would make for an interesting book. She flits from man to man and from party to party, picking up jewellery and dropping amazing one-liners everywhere she goes. Forget about Fitzgerald’s whining bummer of a book, and pick up this charming, glitzy romp instead. Read my full review of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes here.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

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Arthur Less worries that he is “the first homosexual to ever grow old”. At the beginning of Less, he finds himself suddenly single, and the recipient of a cordial invitation to his ex’s wedding (to a more age-appropriate partner). Arthur can’t RSVP “no” to the nuptials and admit defeat, but he couldn’t possibly attend either, especially with his own 50th birthday looming… so, he proceeds to accept every half-baked invitation he’s received to literary events around the world, forcing him to RSVP his regrets. This is one of those rare romantic comedy books that has achieved critical acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2018. Read my full review of Less here.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All The Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han - Keeping Up With The Penguins

For the first in a series of young adult romantic comedy books, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before has a spine-chilling premise. Lara Jean has written a letter to every boy she’s ever loved (five total), letters that were supposed to be for her eyes only… until one day, under mysterious circumstances, the letters are mailed to the boys in question. It’s every teen girl’s worst nightmare; even now, slightly (ahem!) past my teenage years, I shudder at the thought. But don’t let that put you off! It sets the stage for a thoroughly delightful read. Read my full review of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before here.

One Day by David Nicholls

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The best romantic comedy books can make you laugh AND cry. One Day is a lifelong love story, with a twist. Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley meet on 15 July 1988 and after just one day together, they can’t stop thinking about one another. The story then offers us a snapshot of their relationship and their lives on that day, 15 July, each year for the following two decades. They fight, they laugh, they cry, they drift apart, they come back together. Nicholls waits until the very end to reveal the true significance of this one day in their lives, and it will hit you like a punch.

Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Pride And Prejudice is the granddaddy of fun romantic comedy books. When you’re picking books to take to the beach, or light reads to cheer you up, you probably won’t reach for this classic of English literature – but that’s a mistake. Austen’s most beloved novel has it all! Enemies-to-lovers, witty repartee, interfering families, salacious scandal… in fact, P&P is the reason that a lot of these tropes for romantic comedy books exist today. If you’re not convinced, try the audiobook rather than the paper-and-ink version. A lot of the comedy seems to resonate better when read aloud. Read my full review of Pride And Prejudice here.

Losing The Plot by Elizabeth Coleman

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In a delightfully meta twist, Losing The Plot is a fun romantic comedy book about writing fun romantic comedy books. Who’d-a-thunk-it? As a child, Vanessa dreamed of writing romance novels, but somehow she wound up a 30-something dental hygienist lamenting the end of her marriage. When she finally picks up a pen to make her childhood dream come true, it quickly turns into a nightmare – a celebrity author steals her story, and she finds herself caught between two leading men in the legal battle to protect herself.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient - Helen Hoang - Keeping Up With The Penguins

It’s particularly awesome when fun romantic comedy books can weave in representation of groups that normally don’t appear front-and-centre in romance stories. In The Kiss Quotient, the main character is an Asian-American autistic woman. Stella loves maths and numbers, but she struggles with people and relationships. As a last-ditch effort to secure a husband (to make her mother happy), she hires a gorgeous escort as an intimacy coach of sorts, hoping that she can brush up on the skills she fears she lacks. When sparks fly between them, however, she’s forced to concede that something just doesn’t add up. Read my full review of The Kiss Quotient here.

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project by Lenore Appelhans

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

If you’re looking for romantic comedy books that word nerds of all ages can enjoy, look no further than The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project. The whole premise is a literary critique: Riley is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, a sub-type of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. He lives in TropeTown where he hangs out with all the other trope characters until they’re summoned by an author for a role in a book. Riley has been breaking the rules, though, and going off script, so he’s forced into therapy with the other defective manic pixies. The parody, of course, could not be complete without a love story, a mystery, and lots and lots of wacky adventures. Read my full review of The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project here.

Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam

Happy Endings - Thien-Kim Lam - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Romantic comedy books don’t come sexier or zanier than Thien-Kim Lam’s debut, Happy Endings. In this story about second chances, Trixie Nguyen has chosen the – shall we say – non-traditional career of establishing a sex toy business, much to the chagrin of her Vietnamese parents. Her first Washington DC pop-up store is going well, until she spots her restaurateur ex. Who dumped her. On a POST-IT. Despite that rocky end, their chemistry still sizzles, and they realise that both of their businesses could benefit from teaming up. Will they be able to satisfy their hungry and horny clientele, or will the drama between them get in the way?

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

The Charm Offensive - Alison Cochrun - Keeping Up With The Penguins

TV dating shows are natural settings for romantic comedy books. There’s all the drama, the high stakes, the foibles, the gossip… In The Charm Offensive, tech wunderkind Charlie is desperate to rehabilitate his image after a humiliating stuff-up, so he reluctantly agrees to star in Ever After. Dev Deshpande is the most successful producer in the reality show’s history, but even he struggles to make the awkward new star work in front of the cameras. Behind the scenes, though, sparks are flying between Dev and Charlie, which spells bad news for the twenty women who have lined up to win Charlie’s heart on screen.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

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If you’re after classic romantic comedy books but don’t want to be thrown ALL the way back in time, you need to pick up Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’ll give you all the warm and fuzzy late ’80s/early ’90s nostalgia, with an adorkable protagonist and two intriguing leading men to boot. It’s Helen Fielding’s take on the classic love story of Pride And Prejudice, but she gives it a contemporary flavour with some extra zing. If you’ve ever been single, and a bit of a mess, you’ll find Bridget Jones’s diary entries all too relatable.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Well Met - Jen DeLuca - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Emily knew that life would be different in the small town of Willow Creek, but even she couldn’t foresee being roped into volunteering at the local Renaissance Faire. Still, she’s happy enough to go with the flow. The irritating and persnickety Faire co-ordinator, Simon, is a pain in her arse… until they’re in costume on the grounds, and then it’s all flirtation and fun. Well Met is one of those fun romantic comedy books that goes strong on quirk, and the result is fabulous. Plus, it’ll help you answer the age-old question: is all really fair in love and war?

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

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Tiffy and Leon have never met – despite the fact that they share an apartment. It sounds weird, but it’s not really (or so they’ll have you believe). On a tight budget, they use the apartment at opposite times of day. Leon is only ever there while Tiffy’s at the office, she’s only ever there while he’s on the night shift. They start leaving one another notes – whose turn it is to put the garbage out, whether the toilet seat should be left up or down – and slowly they get to know each other better. You can see where this is going, right? The Flatshare is a romantic comedy book about an unlikely, unconventional living arrangement that turns into a love story.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

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One Last Stop is, quite frankly, one of the most delightful romantic comedy books I’ve read in years – and it has a time travel element, and it’s queer! The central character, August, is new to New York City, but she’s already got the cynicism down. That is, until she meets Jane – a beautiful stranger on a train, with a bewitching smile and a leather jacket. How was August to know that Jane had come unstuck in time, from her home in the 1970s, and falling in love with her would cause all kinds of trouble? It’s a snort-laugh funny adventure that will warm even the steeliest heart. Read my full review of One Last Stop here.

Star Crossed by Minnie Darke

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Are our fates written in the stars? Nick certainly thinks so, he reads his horoscope religiously. A horoscope in a magazine that Justine just happens to write for. Can she re-write the fate he’ll find in the movements of constellations? Will a few strokes of her pen change what’s written in the stars for them? Star Crossed is a “bright, brilliant, joyful love story” that charts the ripple effects of a little astrological meddling. Even the most hardened cynic looking for romantic comedy books will find themselves charmed by this story about Aquarian optimism and Sagittarian conviction.

Loving Lizzie March by Susannah Hardy

Loving Lizzie March - Susannah Hardy - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Life is not exactly going to plan for Lizzie March. She thought she’d be a fashion designer, but she’s working in a call centre. She thought her boss was Mr Right, but “dropping by” his house (which her best friend called “stalking”) landed her in hospital… where Lizzie finds out she’s pregnant. Loving Lizzie March is one of those clever and subversive romantic comedy books that shows there might be more to figuring your shit out and getting your happily ever after than just finding Prince Charming. Read my full review of Loving Lizzie March here.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie - Candice Carty-Williams - Keeping Up With The Penguins

If you found yourself wishing that Bridget Jones’s Diary was a little more diverse and a little more relatable, Queenie should be your first pick of the romantic comedy books to read next. Queenie Jenkins is caught between two cultures, her Jamaican heritage and her middle-class British life, and a messy break-up with her long-term (white) boyfriend doesn’t help things. She goes looking for comfort and affirmation in all the wrong places, and finds herself asking “all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her”.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion - Book Laid On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Don Tillman doesn’t have a lot of luck with women – but that’s not surprising. He’s distributing a questionnaire, a list of questions designed to help him find his “perfect mate”. Yikes! Rosie ticks none of the boxes – she’s constantly late, she’s a smoker, and she has a devil-may-care attitude that Don finds baffling – but he finds himself drawn to her nonetheless. The Rosie Project is one of the best-selling romantic comedy books that inverts the much-maligned Grease storyline. In this version, it’s the man who has to loosen up and get with the program to get the girl. Read my full review of The Rosie Project here.

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Weather Girl - Rachel Lynn Solomon - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Weather Girl is the latest from the new queen of romantic comedy books, Rachel Lynn Solomon. Hot off the success of The Ex Talk, she’s released this beguiling story about a TV weather reporter who will resort to desperate measures to ensure harmony in her workplace. The plot is just the right level of ridiculous for a rom-com, the characters are well-developed and well-intentioned, and it has plenty of snort-laughs to offer. And, best of all, the sex scenes are both steamy and realistic!

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Heartburn - Nora Ephron - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Nora Ephron is probably best known for her classic romantic comedy films – think When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle, You’ve Got Mail – but her romantic comedy books are just as good! In Heartburn, cookbook writer Rachel Samstat is seven months pregnant when she finds out that her husband is in love with someone else. How’s that for timing? She loudly wishes him dead to anyone who’ll listen, but secretly she’s working on plans to win him back. When the conflict gets too much, there’s always food. This is a sinfully delicious story about misadventures in love, from the pen of a master.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Imagine thinking you’re dating a regular-old middle-class NYU professor, who invites you to a wedding to Singapore… where you find out his family is rich. Not just flies-first-class rich, but crazy rich. Flying first class is a step down when you’re used to chartering your own private plane! That’s the premise of Crazy Rich Asians, one of the most successful and beloved romantic comedy books of the past decade. Kevin Kwan offers a rare insight into the opulent, extravagant world of the ultra-rich Chinese and Singaporean set.

If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

If The Shoe Fits - Julie Murphy - Keeping Up With The Penguins

If you’ve always had a soft spot for fairytales, but the problematic elements bother you, then you need to check out the Meant To Be romantic comedy books. The first in the series is If The Shoe Fits, a delightfully fresh take on the classic tale of Cinderella. Proudly plus-size design graduate Cindy needs a chance to launch her dream career designing shoes – and the very first opportunity that comes her way is a spot on the dating show, Before Midnight. In the blink of the eye, she’s a viral sensation and a body positivity role-model – and she can actually see herself falling for the show’s Prince Charming. Could this career launchpad make even her non-professional dreams come true?

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