Living in Mexico, you get very familiar with telenovelas. You grow up with them! All throughout my childhood, especially my teenage years, telenovelas were such a big part of my life. When I came back from school, I knew I needed to tune in right after arriving, because my favorite kids-type telenovelas were just about to start. That’s the thing about telenovelas — you had a new episode every single day at the same time. For fans of telenovelas, these books are perfect for you.
Telenovelas are wild, my friends. They truly are. They are dramatic, intense, and they can take you on a journey that… probably won’t make any sense. I mean, telenovelas have sometimes more or less 100 episodes, so you bet they have to come up with different ideas so the plot won’t get boring. The plot lines can go from “the main character suddenly finding out they have an evil twin” to “the love interest dying but not really because they will return five episodes later with amnesia”. You have to be ready to enter this journey because you won’t be able to stop watching until the very last episode is released.
Telenovelas Rule the World
As you may know, telenovelas are limited-run television soap operas or dramas, and, yeah, they’re predominant in Latin America, but that doesn’t mean they only exist there. We have Korean dramas which have similar characteristics to Mexican telenovelas in a way, so that’s probably a reason why I instantly loved them when I began watching them. If you live in the United States, you probably know soap operas, and one perfect example is General Hospital which has been on the air for 59 seasons and counting. Colombian telenovelas are huge as well. It’s not a surprise that Yo soy Betty, la fea (1999) is constantly on Mexico’s Netflix Top 10.
It’s clear that telenovelas have shaped our lives in some way or another, so these next books for fans of telenovelas are going to be unforgettable.
Books For Fans of Telenovelas
Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
I feel like this title would work so well as a telenovela. A comedy with a mystery and a little bit of romance, you say? Well, yes, this book is about to be your new favorite book.
When Meddelin Chan accidentally murders her blind date, she calls her mother to help. But her mother ends up calling her more meddlesome aunties to get rid of the body. This, of course, is way harder than it sounds because how do you transport a body out of a wedding venue without anyone seeing you? Is it possible to escape murder charges, try to get back her college love, and pull off the wedding of the century?
Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
Small town-set stories are always a good option for telenovelas. Things We Never Get Over uses the small town trope so wisely when it comes to introducing different personalities and their lives.
Naomi’s twin sister just called her, telling her she needs help. Doesn’t matter if she’s about to get married, Naomi will be there. Even though she doesn’t have a good relationship with her, she’s not about to be the bad one. She’s always been the good sister.
But when she arrives in town, things are not looking up. First, her sister is hated by everyone. Second, they think she is her, because of how she looks. And third, her sister just took her car, her money, and left her with an 11-year-old girl who happens to be her niece (who she didn’t know existed!).
The Stand-In by Lily Chu
Gracie Reed is somehow holding it all together. Yeah, her life is not going well; she has just been fired, she still hasn’t put her mother in the nursing home of her dreams, but she’s healthy and somewhat happy!
This quickly changes when suddenly a mysterious SUV pulls up beside her. Inside, she finds Chinese cinema’s golden couple, Wei Fangli and Sam Yao. And Fangli needs Gracie’s help! She wants Gracie to be her stand-in, but there is a catch: she has to be accompanied by Sam, the man she cannot resist.
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
A lot of telenovelas have mysteries and assassination plots, so I thought A Study in Scarlet Women would be a good book to match if you’re looking for one that has telenovela vibes. Especially because it’s a series with six books already out!
In order to clear her family’s name, Charlotte Holmes must find the true culprits and solve a murder. With the help of new and old friends, she’ll take on the name of Sherlock Holmes to match up against this evil mastermind.
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
When you fall in love with the person you least expect to… love when that happens, it’s so awesome to see.
In The Charm Offensive, we meet Dev Deshpande who is a producer on a reality dating show. He has always believed in fairytales even if his own love life hasn’t gone the way he wants to. But life takes a turn when the show casts its new star Charlie Winshaw. He’s supposed to find love inside the show, with the other contestants, not with the producer behind the scenes.
Island Time by Georgia Clark (June 14)
Now, telenovelas often have ensemble casts. You practically get a story for each of the main characters, and sometimes there are more than two main characters. In Island Time, you’ll get to experience this and more with its intriguing and comedic story. This book is the perfect beach read!
Set in Mun’dai, a fictional tropical island off the coast of Queensland, this story follows two families who, after a volcano nearby erupts, find themselves stranded together for six weeks. They have nothing in common except that their daughters are married.
The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa
I’ve seen so many telenovelas where someone crashes a wedding (or multiple weddings). I had to include Mia Sosa’s fabulous sequel to The Worst Best Man, The Wedding Crasher.
Dean Chapman had his whole life planned out. He was about to get married and complete numerous bullet points in his list. He never expected Solange Pereira. He surely didn’t expect her to crash his wedding! Now, an upcoming promotion is on the line when he finds himself without a significant other. Then a new plan comes to mind: Why not ask the one who crashed his wedding to be his pretend girlfriend?
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Bad boy meets good boy: telenovela vibes.
Luc O’Donnell is somehow famous. With divorced rock star parents, he’s bound to always be in the spotlight even if he doesn’t like it. And when one bad picture happens, he now has to clean up his image. What better way to do it than find a nice, normal boyfriend… and Oliver Blackwood is the perfect man for the job.
You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria
Actually, the perfect book to put on this list. You Had Me At Hola is about soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez and telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. They’re about to get the best chance of their lives!
Jasmine just got the lead in a bilingual romantic comedy show at the biggest streaming service. But also she recently got dumped in a very public way. So, from now on, she has decided to follow a list of things to do in order to become the perfect leading lady.
The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (May 3rd)
And finally, The Hacienda is the best book to finish off this list. While searching for a telenovela to watch, you’ll find yourself noticing that there are quite a lot of historical-set stories. I think this book is a good pick for fans of telenovelas.
Set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, it follows Beatriz, a young woman who just recently lost her father and home. Because of that, she agrees to marry Don Rodolfo Solórzano, even though there are rumors about the demise of his first wife. But Beatriz wants stability and a place to call home. She’ll soon realize that Hacienda San Isidro is not what she expected.
As I previously mentioned, Korean dramas sort of remind me of telenovelas, especially the journey they craft for their protagonists and the love stories. Check out these Korean dramas that are about books! Or, you know, if you want to read books that remind you of them.