Bookish romance novels are having a major moment in the publishing world right now. It makes sense to me. And not just because I personally am a huge fan. Almost all devoted readers and writers have one thing in common: we love books. And since we all love books, it’s perfectly logical that we love reading about characters who love books too. With the success of Beach Read and her subsequent romance novels, Emily Henry deserves some of the credit for bringing this trend back with a mighty force, especially in contemporary romance. But bookish romance novels have been around for a long time and appear in almost every sub-genre of romance.
There are seriously so many bookish romance novels to available to read right now, ranging from contemporary romances between authors, editors, and agents to historical romances featuring bookish barmaids and women writing under secret pen names. It was no easy feat to whittle down the many possibilities for this article, but I narrowed down the many options into this list of 15 romance novels about books and the written word. Enjoy swooning over them my fellow bookish romance readers!
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
Florence is a ghostwriter for one of the most successful romance novelists. She’s about to meet her new editor, but there’s a problem. After a horrible break up, Florence doesn’t believe in love anymore and can’t find the words to finish the last book in her contract. She’s instantly attracted to her new editor, Ben. But when she goes home for her father’s funeral and sees Ben as a ghost, a strange romance unfolds between them. Florence has seen ghosts and helped them find peace all her life. She assumes to help her editor move on to the next realm, she needs to finish her past due romance novel. But then she and Ben start having feelings for each other. Florence knows falling in love with a ghost can’t restore her belief in romance, but she isn’t sure she can help herself.
The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest (February 28)
Lily is an overworked editorial assistant who wants to edit children’s books, not work on boring nonfiction. In a moment of desperation, she emails her heart out to her favorite, little-known fantasy author. They begin a correspondence that gets surprisingly deep and, perhaps, even romantic. But then the author ghosts Lily just when something more seems possible. A few months later, she’s still hurting from the whole interaction. But she needs to find a date to her sister’s wedding. She asks her playboy neighbor Nick for help snagging a date. When he agrees, she doesn’t know he’s her favorite fantasy author who used a pen name. And Nick doesn’t know who Lily is at first either. Once they find out, their relationship is going to get complicated. You’ll have to wait until the end of the month for this bookish romance novel. But believe me, it’s worth the wait!
Read Between the Lines by Rachel Lacey
Online, Rosie has a flirtatious email romance brewing with her favorite romance novelist, Brie. But in-person, Brie is really Jane, who spends her days working for her family’s property company and her nights writing romance under a pen name. Online, Rosie and Brie are falling in love. In-person, Rosie and Jane are enemies, due to Jane terminating the lease on Rosie’s independent bookstore. If you are thinking this sounds like a sapphic You’ve Got Mail, then you are one hundred percent correct!
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Could I write about bookish romance novels and not include Book Lovers? Obviously, I didn’t think so. This book takes a meta approach to the small town romance trope, with literary agent Nora going on vacation to the tiny town that inspired her top client’s most recent hit. There she finds Charlie, the grumpy editor she knows back from New York City. Nora’s sister keeps trying to push her into a romantic situations with local men, but for some reason Nora can’t keep away from Charlie, the one other New Yorker in town. This book is huge for a reason. And, in my opinion, it lives up to the hype. Another great choice for a literary love story would be Emily Henry’s earlier novel Beach Read.
A Summer for Scandal by Lydia San Andres
This historical romance takes readers to the Caribbean in 1911 for an epic love story between secret writer Emilia and snobby book critic Ruben. When Ruben loudly tears the book Emilia wrote under a pen name to shreds, only she and her sister understand the significance of the moment. She has to keep her writing a secret or it would create a scandal she and her family would never recover from. But Ruben is determined to find out the identity of the romance writer he loves to hate. As the two keep bumping into each other, Ruben and Emilia will discover surprise after surprise. This novel is low angst with strong banter and a perfect manifesto standing up for romance against high brow literary haters.
By the Book by Jasmine Guillory
Isabelle is an editorial assistant who is burned out at work and being gaslit by a coworker. In a moment of desperation to prove herself, she agrees to drive to the home of a celebrity who is past due with the tell-all book he promised Isabelle’s boss. Beau wants to turn Isabelle away at first. But he agrees to let her stay in his gorgeous Santa Barbara home to help him begin writing his book. And over time, the two fall in love and Isabelle rediscovers her love of books and writing. But will their relationship last once the book is finished and Isabelle has to return to the real world? This bookish “Beauty and the Beast” retelling answers this question of an epic happily ever after that’s worthy of a fairytale.
The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Katrina and Nathan cowrote a huge, bestselling book together and were best friends. But after their book came out, a rift between them occurred that was so huge they haven’t spoken since, and Katrina has lost her ability to write. But Nathan’s first solo book is a commercial flop. And Katrina’s fiancé (who is also her literary agent) gets into financial trouble and asks her to help bail him out. Which means, Nathan and Katrina are going to write another book together. They go back to the Florida house where they wrote their hit. It’s the place where the most magic and the worst moments of their relationship occurred. Told in dual timelines, Katrina and Nathan’s future and past unravel page by page for the reader. There aren’t just big will-they-won’t-they vibes in this novel, but also the overarching question of what the heck happened between them?
Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson
Phoebe is a PhD student trying to finish her dissertation on true crime and living in her childhood home in Florida. When she meets her new neighbor Sam, she isn’t sure if he’s the man of her dreams or a serial killer. Something seriously weird is up with him, but all the murder books she’s reading also could be influencing her judgement. There’s also a strong family and grief subplot that makes this book somewhat straddle the line of women’s fiction and romance. But since I’m including it on this list, I think you probably have good enough instincts to anticipate which side of the line the book falls on by the end.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
Mika is a lonely, isolated witch who keeps her magic a secret at all costs. But when a letter comes asking her to help three young witches at Nowhere House, Mika answers the call and travels to the mysterious house to help. Besides her new pupils, when she arrives she finds Jamie, the overly-protective librarian of Nowhere House. Mika begins to find a magical family for the first time since her parents died. And when a threat jeopardizes her future with this new magical community, Mika and Jamie will both do anything they can to protect their family and their future.
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Eva writes bestselling vampire erotica but has writer’s block trying to meet her deadline for her next book. The Black Brooklyn literary scene goes bananas when reclusive, literary darling Shane shows up at one of Eva’s panels and admits that he’s read (and loved) all of her books. The sparks between them fly. But they don’t come out of nowhere. The two shared an intense seven day romance as teenagers that influenced the rest of their lives and literary careers. This book is emotionally intense touching on issues with chronic pain, child abuse, self harm, and addiction. But the love story and connection between these two characters is both deep and vivid. And their love of writing and literature shines through on every page.
The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe
Allison has been accepted into her dream PhD program to study Medieval Literature and hopefully become a professor someday. She’s thrilled when she is assigned to teaching assistant for her dream mentor. But then she finds out Colin, her snobby college ex-boyfriend, is in her program as well. And even worse, he is chosen as the other TA for the same professor. Let the competition begin! The two know they are direct rivals for recommendations, top grades, and prestigious research assistant position. It doesn’t matter if they both still have feelings for each other. Everyone knows all’s fair in love, war, and academia.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
In this beautiful historical romance, Lucy Muchenly and Catherine the Countess of Moth are brought together through the project of translating a complex French astronomy book. Catherine is a recent widow who hires Lucy for the job, hoping to complete the scientific work of her dead husband and solidify his legacy. Lucy is an aspiring astronomer who finds gender discrimination is holding her back from achieving her dreams. Both think the book translation will be a fairly easy job, but they develop an attraction for each other through the project. And when that attraction deepens into strong feelings of love, their relationship will change the course of both Lucy and Catherine’s lives.
Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
Griffin the Duke of Halford is in a power struggle with his mother over his matrimonial future. His mother insists he choose a bride from the infamous Spindle Cove (nicknamed Spinster Cove) and to teach her a lesson, Griffin chooses Pauline, the local barmaid. Pauline isn’t particularly interested in Griffin, but she agrees to the fake engagement if he will give her the money to open up her dream bookstore and lending library. Both are convinced that within a week, society will declare Pauline a failure and his mother will insist on them breaking the engagement. The only problem is Pauline wins over the hearts of the aristocratic town, Griffin’s mother, and Griffin himself. But can Griffin convince Pauline to go down a dramatically different life path than the one she planned?
Glitterland by Alexis Hall
Ash was once considered a promising young literary writer. But now, he’s a pulp crime writer who deals with clinical depression and social anxiety. Ash has completely given up on ever falling in love. But a chance meeting with Darian, a cheerful model with an amazing sense of humor, challenges Ash’s belief in his own future. It’s hard for him to believe that anyone could truly love him. But if anyone can restore his faith in love and in himself, it’s going to be Darian.
Her Perfect Affair by Priscilla Oliveras
Rosa is a responsible school librarian who writes romantic poems in her spare time. Most of her poems are inspired by her crush on Jeremy, the son of a wealthy lawyer she danced with once at a wedding. They both aren’t looking for a serious relationship. But Jeremy and Rosa have an undeniable chemistry that makes it impossible for them to keep away from each other. They aren’t sure if their steamy affair can turn into a forever romance, especially when Rosa’s job at a conservative Catholic school is threatened by gossip about her relationship with Jeremy.
For more romance reading ideas check out the 20 best romance novels of 2022 or this list of the best romance novels you’ve never heard of!