The best dating books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about dating and why they recommend each book.

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10 Blind Dates

By Ashley Elston,

Book cover of 10 Blind Dates

Coming from a huge family (and I mean 50+ people), I loved Sophie’s family and their hilarious chaos. Sometimes it was a little hard to remember all the relatives and their names, but that was probably because I was zooming through this book. I’m pretty sure I finished it in an entire sitting as I neglected my family. The only times I stopped were to laugh at some of the crazy, but fun-loving dates that Sophie went through. This is a perfect Christmas book as I’m pretty sure my heart swelled as I read it.


Who am I?

As a kid, I’ve always loved reading romances, even if it meant spending my recesses in the library and reading through lunchtime. This resulted in my 6th-grade teacher giving me the weirdest look when she caught me reading a romance at school. When I started writing, I wrote a couple of different genres to test out, but YA contemporary romances were always the ones that stuck with me. I loved writing about the fluttery feelings of first love and the complexities of an uncertain future. It also helps that I met my husband, the love of my life, in high school so I’ll always have a soft spot for books that make me feel that way again.


I wrote...

Fake It Till You Break It

By Jenn P. Nguyen,

Book cover of Fake It Till You Break It

What is my book about?

Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together. After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time―and then they’ll be free.

It’s the perfect plan - except that it turns out maybe Mia and Jake don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…

Always Never Yours

By Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka,

Book cover of Always Never Yours

One of my all-time favourite stories is Romeo and Juliet but since it’s been covered so many times before it rarely feels new. However, Always Never Yours is a strong adaptation of this classic as it provides such an original viewpoint. Megan is definitely no Juliet, she is the one before guys meet their ‘one.’ She’s used to never being chosen and instead focuses on her ambitions in theatre directing. However, to get into her dream college she needs an acting credit. Seeking the comfort of the smallest part in the play, she’s aghast to be cast as Juliet. I love a story that shows us the development of a character and this is a great illustration of that as we follow Megan’s journey of self-discovery and love.


Who am I?

I have a real love of classic fiction and my first novel The Pretender is a modern-day adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. I discovered this story as a child when a relative gave me a copy to read on the journey home from Scotland. While aspects of the story are frequently copied, the essence of the original novel felt forgotten. It’s such a beautiful story with many of the themes still relevant today that I decided to adapt it so a modern audience could rediscover and fall in love with it all over again. As an author, I draw a lot of inspiration from the classics.


I wrote...

The Pretender

By Katie Ward,

Book cover of The Pretender

What is my book about?

Life for Princess Isabella is far from a dream, trapped by tradition, protocol and the stifling burden of inheriting the crown, she longs to escape her shackles. After fleeing her abusive home, Sophia and Isabella meet at the palace gates. Realising how alike they look, they plan to switch places for one week. What could possibly go wrong? What starts out as a naïve plan to follow their dreams soon takes an unexpected turn with events quickly spiralling out of control. As the nightmare continues around them, it’s a race against time to stem the devastating consequences of their actions.

100 Boyfriends

By Brontez Purnell,

Book cover of 100 Boyfriends

I’m a gay Black man, and I’ve worked as a television writer (The Chi, Bel-Air) for more than a decade, so I know from experience the burdens of representation. There is tremendous pressure to make sure we craft Black and/or gay characters that remain relatable or sympathetic. Otherwise, we risk losing the general audience.

That’s why it brought revolutionary joy to my heart when I read 100 Boyfriends in 2021. With this story collection, Brontez Purnell lays our collective burdens down and gives us Black queer men with messy lives. The result is characters that can be infuriating, endearing, disturbing, and hilarious. The book challenges readers to recognize the facets of humanitycommendable, questionable, and despicablein Black queer men. It feels like the dawn of a new age.


Who am I?

I grew up attending Catholic school in conservative Indiana. Sex—especially if it was of the homosexual varietywas the ultimate taboo. I can’t overstate how damaging it is to believe that one of your natural urges is proof of your depravity. Books that depict queer sexual relations, be they fleeting or romantic, gave me my first glimpse of a wider world where my sexual identity could be expressed. These books liberated me. Even now, I find that sexy and subversive novels help me understand parts of myself that can still be difficult to discuss in polite company. We all need our boundaries pushed. 


I wrote...

My Government Means to Kill Me

By Rasheed Newson,

Book cover of My Government Means to Kill Me

What is my book about?

Vibrant, humorous, sexy, and fraught with entanglements, My Government Means to Kill Me is an exhilarating, fast-paced coming-of-age story that lends itself to a larger discussion about what it means for a young gay Black man in the mid-1980s to come to terms with his role in the midst of a political and social reckoning.

Furia

By Yamile Saied Méndez,

Book cover of Furia

I adored this book. After I turned the final page, I sat in silence, sinking into all the feels. Set in Argentina, Furia is the story of Camila, a fierce soccer—or fútbol—player who is one of the best in her sport. However, she’s forced to keep her love of fútbol a secret because she’s living under the strict supervision of her father, who doesn’t believe girls should play sports. That story alone would be enough to make Furia one of my all-time favorite books, but it’s also got an incredible swoony love story. You don’t want to miss this one. 


Who am I?

I adore books about sporty badass girls. Yet, when I first began to write Dangerous Play, there were few young-adult novels featuring fierce sporty girls. Of those, there were fewer which portrayed the powerful friendships that can emerge on girls’ sports teams. I want to read and write about girls who are defined by more than their love interests, who are dogged in the pursuit of their goals. In a world that so often judges girls by how their bodies look, sports offers an arena in which girls can view and value their bodies in an alternative way. And who doesn’t love to cheer for someone who beats the odds? 


I wrote...

Dangerous Play

By Emma Kress,

Book cover of Dangerous Play

What is my book about?

Zoe Alamandar has one goal: win the State Field Hockey Championships and earn a scholarship that will get her the hell out of Central New York. She and her co-captain Ava Cervantes have assembled a fierce team of dedicated girls who will work hard and play by the rules.

But after Zoe is sexually assaulted at a party, she finds a new goal: make sure no girl feels unsafe again. Zoe and her teammates decide to stop playing by the rules and take justice into their own hands. Soon, their suburban town has a team of superheroes meting out punishments, but one night of vigilantism may cost Zoe her team, the championship, her scholarship, and her future.

American Betiya

By Anuradha D. Rajurkar,

Book cover of American Betiya

When Rani Kelkar secretly dates the tattooed, charismatic, artistic Oliver—her mother’s worst nightmare—cultures collide. This exquisitely written novel explores appropriation, identity, and self-respect. Bigotry can show its ugly head in micro-aggressions and Anuradha Rajurkar does a phenomenal job illuminating this form of hatred. An eye-opening and thought-provoking novel, readers will recognize that sometimes speaking up for oneself is one of the most important ways to fight against bigotry, hatred, and injustice.


Who am I?

I am an educator, cook, lover of rooftops and nature. In 2017, a series of extraordinary events brought me to Oswego, New York to speak about my debut YA novel, Hello?. With time to spare, I scrolled through Facebook and saw, “Homework? NY Students Debate Exterminating Jews.” Where was the assignment given? Oswego! And surprise, at my book signing, I met one of the two brave teens who protested the debate. These experiences spurred The Assignment’s journey. Speaking up against bigotry, hatred, and injustice is a life-long quest of learning, action, and sharing knowledge. I hope you’ll join me. These books are a great start.


I wrote...

The Assignment

By Liza Wiemer,

Book cover of The Assignment

What is my book about?

In the vein of the classic The Wave and inspired by a real-life incident, this riveting novel explores discrimination and antisemitism and reveals their dangerous impact.

Senior year. When an assignment given by a favorite teacher instructs a group of students to argue for the Final Solution, a euphemism used to describe the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people, Logan March and Cade Crawford are horrified. Their teacher cannot seriously expect anyone to complete an assignment that fuels intolerance and discrimination. Logan and Cade decide they must take a stand. As the school administration addressed the teens' refusal to participate in the appalling debate, the student body, their parents, and the larger community are forced to face the issue as well. The situation explodes, and acrimony and anger result. What does it take for tolerance, justice, and love to prevail?

Take a Hint, Dani Brown

By Talia Hibbert,

Book cover of Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown features characters so unique in their complexity that they immediately felt like real people to me. They are so multi-faceted that I find it impossible to describe them in all of their glorious fullness here. However, I can say that I particularly related to Dani's coexisting commitments to intellectual rigor and personalized spirituality, and to Zaf's internal wrestling matches between fear and courage, as a hopeless romantic with anxiety issues. Having a curvy, bisexual heroine also places this book "off the beaten path" for the romance genre. Throughout, this wonderfully realistic romantic comedy had me alternately laughing out loud and sighing at the deeply satisfying love story. 

Who am I?

Maybe it's because I'm an Aquarius, or maybe it's because I ate crayons as a kid. But people who know me well can confirm that I'm an oddball who has never fit neatly into boxes or been easy to categorize. Perhaps that’s why I've always enjoyed reading books that defy rules, break barriers, and cross genres. As an author, while I love grounding my books in reality for maximum authenticity, my stories definitely color outside the lines (see earlier crayon reference). I love reading and writing about the unconventional and the unexpected. If you're looking for romances that will take you off the beaten path, this list is for you.


I wrote...

Dead Sound

By Anise Eden,

Book cover of Dead Sound

What is my book about?

Psychotherapist Neve Keane knew that returning to work after being stabbed by a patient would be difficult. But entering her unit only to be surrounded by a crowd of people claiming they need her help to stop the apocalypse—that’s more than she bargained for. 

When the crowd’s leader turns out to be a mutual patient of Neve and her best friend, streetwise Irish doctor Cornelius O’Brien, they are pulled into a deadly Byzantine plot. As they race to unravel the threads of a sinister conspiracy that leads from their hospital all the way to the White House, Neve and Cornelius realize they might be fighting to stop the end of the world, after all—provided they can survive the week with targets on their backs.

Not Another Bad Date

By Rachel Gibson,

Book cover of Not Another Bad Date

A romance novel by one of the funniest writers I’ve encountered in a long time. Her stories are racy, but the humor is outstanding leaving me to laugh out loud on any number of occasions. I’ve recently discovered Rachel Gibson and I highly recommend her books if you’re looking for humor in love and life. 


Who am I?

My book, No Safe Haven was written about the American Civil War, most specifically about the Battle of Gettysburg. It was a story I came across while on vacation in Gettysburg. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History and the historical novel genre is one I love. It gives me an opportunity to explore past worlds and try to learn the lessons of the past to apply to the present and hopefully to the future. When I learned about Tillie Pierce’s experience surviving the Battle of Gettysburg, I knew I had to tell her story.


I wrote...

No Safe Haven

By Angela Moody,

Book cover of No Safe Haven

What is my book about?

Spunky, fifteen-year-old Tillie Pierce loves her life just as it is and considers her family safe from the Civil War—until Confederate soldiers overrun her hometown of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Sent to “safety” on a farm, she seeks shelter right in the battle zone. The next few days test not only her beliefs and friendships, but also her instincts and attitude. Does she have the gumption to trust a God who could give her hope? How can she when He allows such tragedy?

By Your Side

By Kasie West,

Book cover of By Your Side

Going through anxiety can be tough and lonesome. I know most of us are stubborn and want to go things alone, just like Autumn does in this book. West paints a picture of how keeping our trials to ourselves can hold us back and keep us from growing. It can damage friendships and relationships. By giving your close friends and family a chance to see the world through your eyes, you’re giving them a way to truly and deeply understand you, which is all anyone really wants.


Who am I?

I’ve been living with anxiety since I was a child. I had no idea what it was back then, or how much it controlled my life. I wish I had the numerous resources that we have today, and all the knowledge at our fingertips. For me, the way to really truly understand something is through a story. Seeing a beautifully chaotic life unfold before me, and riding alongside the characters, offers me so much hope and lets me know I’m not alone in this. You are not alone in the anxiety battle. By working together, sharing our stories, we’ll find a way through the darkest times and embrace the light.


I wrote...

Daphne's Questionable Bet

By Sara Jo Cluff,

Book cover of Daphne's Questionable Bet

What is my book about?

When sixteen-year-old Daphne Richards moves back to her hometown, she finds herself next door to her mom's high school rival – with a daughter the same age as Daphne. Eager to redeem her mother's name, Sierra offers Daphne a simple bet: Who can get the gorgeous and charming Bentley Anderson to ask her to prom?

Confident in her ability, and unable to turn down a challenge, Daphne takes the bet. Both girls quickly go to work, doing everything in their powers to woo Bentley – while sabotaging the other. Only, another guy at school quickly catches Daphne's eye, and her ever-building anxiety mounts when a picture involving Care Bear underwear risks getting out. If Daphne can't sift through her emotions and figure out how to handle the bet, she'll not only risk social suicide, but the chance at true love.

Boyfriend Material

By Alexis Hall,

Book cover of Boyfriend Material

A British rom-com between a chaotic mess and a lawful good (D&D joke there). A fake relationship that develops real feelings and completely stole my heart. Laugh out loud funny, all-around feel good, even when things get dicey. Really great read when you need a break from high school. Which, given that I’m pushing 30 now, is much needed.


Who am I?

As a female in a same-sex relationship, people often ask why my favorite books focus on gay males. The answer is really pretty simple – I grew up with readily available female protagonists in my books. In fact, I can count on one hand the male pov books I had read (Harry Potter, Eragon, Percy Jackson). I was never lacking when it came to finding female leads, and I read constantly. By the time I hit my twenties I was worn out on books about girls. And I didn’t find heterosexual relationships relatable, despite being bisexual myself. So – I started looking for the only thing left. Non-straight, male lead books. It’s simply what I find entertaining at this point in my life.


I wrote...

Loving Lakyn

By Charlotte Reagan,

Book cover of Loving Lakyn

What is my book about?

Lakyn James is sixteen years old and hating every second of it. He was supposed to be done. End of story. Suicide "attempt", they said. His intentions had no "attempt" in them. Re-entering normal life after ‘trying’ to take his own is weird. Especially when the world keeps going like it never happened. He still has to eat breakfast, go to school, and somehow convince a cute boy that he’s too damaged to date.

Scott White comes with his own problems, namely a habit of drinking too much and being indecisive about whether he wants in the closet, or out of it. Lakyn can’t stand him; he also can’t help smiling when Scott’s around. Unfortunately - or fortunately - for Lakyn, life has decided to give him a second chance.

Drawn That Way

By Elissa Sussman, Arielle Jovellanos (illustrator),

Book cover of Drawn That Way

Hayley is thrilled to be accepted to a prestigious summer program for aspiring teen animators. But then only boys are chosen to direct the participants’ short films, and that might only scratch the surface of the boys’ club culture within the program. The multiple forms of sexism Hayley experiences throughout are so real, they were painful to read (in the best, truest way), as I reflected on my own experiences with misogynistic gatekeeping—but the community and solidarity that develop throughout this fantastic novel are very satisfying. 


Who am I?

I was an ambitious teen, and as I entered adulthood, my relationship with ambition has continually evolved. Those of us with marginalized genders sometimes have our ambition treated with suspicion or scorn—by peers, family, or would-be mentors. I wanted to share books that don’t necessarily come to the same conclusion about ambition’s role in our lives, but that all grapple with what it means to be ambitious in a culture where that is often seen as threatening or unladylike—or where any sign of ambition gets one automatically labeled as “unlikeable.” I love these books’ narrators, and I hope you will find something to love in them too. 


I wrote...

It Goes Like This

By Miel Moreland,

Book cover of It Goes Like This

What is my book about?

Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph used to think their friendship was unbreakable. After all, they've been through a lot together, including the astronomical rise of Moonlight Overthrow, the world-famous queer pop band they formed in middle school. After a sudden falling out leads to the dissolution of the teens' band, their friendship, and Eva and Celeste's starry-eyed romance, nothing is the same. 

Gina and Celeste step further into the spotlight, Steph disappears completely, and Eva, heartbroken, takes refuge as a songwriter and secret online fangirl...of her own band. That is, until a storm devastates their hometown, bringing the four ex-best-friends back together. As they prepare for one last show, they'll discover whether growing up always means growing apart.

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