I did one of these last year, though it wasn’t really a cohesive post, and it was mostly just a place for me to scream about my OTPs, whether they were in books or not. Realistically, that’s probably half of what’s about to happen, but here are my top ten favorite romantic books! (Note: these are not just my favorite OTPs, but my favorite overall romantic books.)
If you’re surprised that Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi is the first book on this list, then you haven’t been paying attention. I read it twice in the eight months, and I’m still weeping over it and want to read it seventy-five more times. It’s everything that I would want in a book, and the romance??? Don’t even get me started. The slowwwwww burn from casual acquaintances to texting buddies to real life friends to falling for each other just about killed me, and everything Penny felt, I was basically screaming at the pages. Plus, it takes place in college, which made me so happy .
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman was one of those books that I lost all sense of control of my life over. I found it on Tumblr first and immediately binged everything that was available at the time. I abandoned all other books, said goodbye to my writing, laughed at my life, and just drowned beneath the cute that is Charlie and Nick. As soon as I was finished with this bumbling story of first love, I ordered the first volume, preordered the second, and promptly fell into a heap of sobbing. This is so sweet, so awkward, and so adorable.
I am incapable of regular speech whenever I even THINK about Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, never mind actually read it. I literally had to stop myself about halfway through from just reading the entire thing in one sitting because my face was on fire, and my heart was beating eight million miles an hour. And not even because of the occasional smut! Every single part of this book just about did me in. This is like the fanfiction we all know and love, but somehow even better.
I know Emma by Jane Austen, both the character and the book, are most readers’ least favorite, but my goodness, I had the time of my life reading this book. Emma Woodhouse is probably one of my favorite Austen MCs, and her slow descent from anger to indifference to friendship to PROFESSION OF LOVE with John Knightley destroyed me. He’s definitely my favorite Austen man, and there’s just nothing I don’t like about this book.
Shiver is the book that started it all for my love of Maggie Stiefvater. It was the first book I read by her, way back whenever it was originally published, and I remember forcing it on all of my friends while I desperately waited for the sequel. I’ve reread it almost every year since its publication, my cat is named after Grace, one of the MCs, and I 10/10 would die for Sam Roth. Maggie calls this a capital K Kissing book, and she’s 100% right. It’s beautiful, languid, and so, so good.
I did not expect to love In a Perfect World by Trish Doller quite as much as I did, and so was pleasantly surprised when I found myself speeding toward the end and ultimately giving it five stars. The romance in this was also unexpected, but delightful and actually really realistic. It discussed so many important topics other than the romance, but each of them were given appropriate weight and actually broken apart instead of just swept under the rug so a specific one could shine. While the MCs were getting to know each other, and flirting with the idea of moving beyond friendship, they were still talking about the political climate, their cultural differences, and what an impossible future they had. It was very refreshing.
When My Heart Joins the Thousand by AJ Steiger made me cry SO MUCH. Not only was the MC autistic, but Steiger stepped out of the stereotype that someone with a disability is incapable of surviving on their own, and instead gave us a heart-wrenching story of friendship and love and determination. This was gorgeously written, and I think about the adorable slow burn between the two MCs all the time.
Look, I’m only picking one book per author, or I would have dropped several more Stiefvater books on you, and if we’re talking top favorite romances, it’s gotta be Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Not only is Fangirl basically the story of my college life (minus the real life romance), but the Simon Snow series that it spawned will forever give me reason to carry on.
I’m not sorry for that. Plus, the friendship, and eventual romance, between Cath and Levi? I CANNOT.
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg has the sweetest romance on this entire list, and it’s my 2020 goal to read everything possible by Holmberg so I can keep falling in love with her love. Ceony is, by herself, just the cutest thing on the planet, but then pair her with Emery? Nahhhhhh, I’m all set, I’ll start digging my grave. You can fill it with paper hearts, but that’ll just put me in it sooner. This ripped my heart out (too soon?) in the best way possible.
It was hard deciding on which Laini Taylor was going to fit this bill, but, in the end, it’s always going to be Night of Cake and Puppets. Though it’s smack right in the middle of the DOSAB series, you can totally read it on its own and just die over the fact that Laini wrote it, her husband illustrated it, and the entire thing is literally an homage to love. It’s all about Zuzanna and Mik’s first date, which is also a scavenger hunt, and which will make you weep with joy.
And there you have it! This was hard, just narrowing it down to ten, because there are a lot of romances and OTPs that make me flail absurdly, but I think this list also does them justice. And remember! Romance isn’t dead. It’s just hiding in your books.