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.
Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Very few fun romantic comedy books involve blackmail and outing, I’ll grant you, but Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a rare exception. This delightful young adult romance follows a young semi-closeted man as he falls in love for the very first time. Simon has a pen pal for the digital age, a fellow gay teen at his Southern high-school who is scared to reveal his sexuality. They email back and forth, while Simon frantically schemes to keep a school bully from outing them both. Reading this one will take you right back to the heady days of adolescent affection and hormonal urges.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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? Read my full review of Happy Endings here.
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
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
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
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? Read my full review of Well Met here.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
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
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
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
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
If you found yourself wishing that Bridget Jones’s Diary was a little more diverse and a little more realistic, Queenie should be your first pick 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”. This is one of the rare romantic comedy books that doesn’t bullshit the reader about meet-cutes and happily-ever-afters. Read my full review of Queenie here.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
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 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! Read my full review of Weather Girl here.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
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
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. Read my full review of Crazy Rich Asians here.
If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy
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? Read my full review of If The Shoe Fits here.