Compilation image of various feminist book covers

A Reading List Where Feminism Meets Romance

As a genre romance novels aren’t traditionally thought of as a feminist genre. How could it be when most of it comprises women falling for men? There is a new wave of romance that is queer and has its main characters have passions outside of their romantic love interest. These fictional women aren’t just looking for love. They are looking for a whole, fulfilling life.

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The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
(Forever)

Who doesn’t love romantic comedies? In Farrah Rochon’s The Boyfriend Project, Samiah Brooks just realized her boyfriend was dating her and two other women—London and Taylor. These three women are besties who pledged to work on themselves because fuck men. Well, it’s always when you’re not looking that hot men walk into your life. Enter Daniel Collins … Naturally, hijinks ensue.

This romance novel emphasizes working on yourself before pursuing any romantic interest so you don’t get lost.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
(Avon)

Jasmine Lin Rodriguez is a soap opera star going through a breakup that’s plastered on every magazine. Jasmine does what she wants when she wants. It’s what made her so successful in her career. She visits her hometown, New York City, to film a bilingual rom-com for a streaming site. As fate would have it, hottie Ashton Suárez will be her leading man. Their on-screen chemistry is electric, so, of course, an off-screen romance begins. Too bad Ashton has a dirty little secret that could make or break them. 

Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
(Berkley)

Imagine the manliest of men, let’s say, national sports stars read romance books to foster community with their partners. Well, that’s precisely the premise of the Bromance Book Club series.

In the first book, Gavin Scott, a major league baseball player, is having trouble with his marriage. To fix this, his boys make him join the Bromance Bookclub. In this special book club, Gavin is assigned to read a regency romance to rekindle his marriage with his wife. The book’s premise focuses on the wife’s pleasure, agency, and needs. There is nothing more feminist than that.

This refreshing take on romance focuses on an established relationship instead of a cute meet-cute.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
(Avon)

Badass CEO Rhiannon Hunters created a dating app that has revolutionized modern romance. Even though her career relies on getting happy couples together, she doesn’t have much luck in that department. That is until her one-night stand with former professional football player Samson Lima returns to her life. Not only has he become her business rival, but he also rekindles something in her that’s beyond tempting. Can Rhiannon have it all?

We love a romance book with a badass CEO.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
(Simon Pulse)

This book features a plus-size main character who is an Indian-American protagonist. She is used to her mother insisting that she’s too fat to be seen as attractive. To combat that, she starts the Sweetie Project, where she strives to be unapologetically her and prove to everyone that’s all she needs to do to be loved.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
(Berkley)

Nora Stephens is a literary agent known as “the shark” trying to vacation in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, with her very pregnant sister. Who is also in this small town? None other than her literary rival, the editor Charlie Lastra. Nora is incredibly career-oriented, so when they end up working on a manuscript together, they’re forced to be in close proximity. To distract Nora, her sister sets Nora up on blind dates and errands around the city. The vacation to assuage Nora’s sister’s pregnancy stress turns into something else entirely. 

For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa

For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa
(HQN)

Chef Nina Lyon has been on a cooking reality TV show, The Next Cooking Champ! Being a reality TV host was never Nina’s dream. The fact that she isn’t exactly well-liked in the eyes of the public doesn’t help either, especially when she has to co-host with a handsome restauranteur, Leo O’Donnell, who everyone can’t get enough of. When Nina walks off set, she’s later seen in a compromising position with Leo. Fake dating ensues to benefit both of their restaurants.

Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli

Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli
(Berkley)

I’m becoming a huge fan of Lalli’s work. Her characters are well-rounded with goals and growth that happens outside of romantic relationships. Because they’re multi-dimensional, they feel like real people other than predictable tropes. Instead, there’s a perfect balance of romance and self-discovery.

Serena is headstrong, which doesn’t help her maneuver her Punjabi culture as an American, family relationships, being a boss, and finding fulfilling friendships as an adult.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
(Dial Press)

Bea Schumacher is a plus-size fashion blogger with an impressive online following, so much so that she gets asked to be on a dating reality TV show, Main Squeeze. She isn’t exactly excited to be under the scrutiny of the American gaze. However, this is a great job opportunity. So, she does it. All the men on the show are unbearably good-looking. At first, the fun dates were easy because she wasn’t attached … until she was.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
(St. Martin’s Press)

Chloe Green moves to the middle of nowhere for high school. She’s a total fish out of water at her Christian Academy but has one goal: being valedictorian. Her biggest competition? Shara Wheeler. The two rivals are at academic odds until, right before graduation, the pair kiss. Her once-simple rivalry becomes even more complicated.

(featured image: Avon, Berkley, St. Martin’s Press, Forever, Simon Pulse, and Dial Press/The Mary Sue)


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Author
A. Mana Nava
Nava was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently, they edit economic textbooks by day and write geeky articles for the internet in the evenings. They currently exist on unceded Lenape land aka Brooklyn. (Filipine/a Mexican American)