If you’ve noticed a sharp uptick in the number of romantic comedies being released—both on the screen and on the page—you’re not alone: the romantic comedy is coming back with a vengeance. I am here for it. And many of you have been telling you are, too.
When we spoke with author Julie Buxbaum in the MMD Book Club recently, we dove into the rom com resurgence. Buxbaum describes herself as a “huge romantic comedy junkie,” and is on board for this trend, speculating it’s fueled by today’s combative political environment. “Romantic comedies are soothing,” she said. “We want the happy ending.” And so the rom com is coming back—but it’s being reinvented.
We might want the happy endings, but today’s audience also wants deeper emotions than the rom coms we remember from the 90s and early 2000s, when so many plots were propelled forward by silly misunderstandings or simple character opposition. This emphasis on deeper emotions is a key reason Buxbaum considers her own book Tell Me Three Things to be a romantic comedy that’s emblematic of the reinvented rom com. The book revolves around grief—yet it’s also sweet, and funny. And of course, the reader trusts there’s a happy ending in store.
Reader, if you love a book that guarantees a happy ending, gives you the funny with the sad, has emotional depth, and makes the reading experience fun, one of these newer romantic comedies may be exactly what your TBR needs.
I’d love to hear your favorite romantic comedies in comments. And in a few weeks we’ll share the movie version of this post—what (old or new) films would you recommend?
A road-trip-from-hell as a romantic comedy? You got it. Financially strapped Jess can't afford to send her math whiz daughter to a decent school, but then a scholarship opportunity arises—in Scotland, and she can't afford to drive there. Enter Geeky Ed, who owes her a favor, but mostly wants a chance to think about anything besides the insider trader scandal he's embroiled in. The story is told from four different points of view, with different voices for each (which makes the audio version great). Quirky and endearing. More info →
Can you fall in love with someone just by reading their email? For Lincoln O’Neill, the answer is YES. When he takes a new job as an "internet security officer" he doesn't realize that means he'll be reading people’s emails. But it's the company's policy, and besides, all the employees know their emails are being monitored—at least in theory. Before long Lincoln has pored over countless personal emails between Jennifer and Beth, and he's sure of two things: he's in too deep, and it's too late to confess. You couldn’t ask for a better beach read. More info →
Don Tillman can count his friends on one hand, has never been on a second date, and is clearly (to the reader, at least) on the autism spectrum. When a colleague surprises him by remarking he would make a wonderful husband, Don creates "the Wife Project" to find his perfect partner. (To Don, that means creating the perfect questionnaire.) But when he meets a woman that's all wrong for him—at least on paper—he's forced to reconsider what he really wants, and what love really looks like (all while his scientific, orderly approach to life is getting wrecked). Fast, fun, and smart. Heads up for a few f-bombs and racy scenes. More info →
Newsletter subscribers know I just blew through this series (again) on vacation and it was good for my reading life. Richard and Lainie are actors in London's West End. Though talented, Richard's cranky off-stage antics are turning his fans against him, and the theater is worried they won't be able to sell tickets. Fan favorite Lanie is already stuck working with her cheating ex-boyfriend, and then it gets worse: she's asked to pose as his new girlfriend to help Richard clean up his reputation. And fans love nothing more than an on-stage/off-stage romance, so soon they're packing in the crowds. But then the lines between on-stage and off begin to blur. A fast, fun contemporary romance with a keen sense of humor. More info →
Iris’s grandmother wrote the famous high-fantasy Elementia series but Iris wants nothing to do with it. She's never read the books and she barely even met her grandmother but that doesn’t stop the trilogy's fans from wanting a piece of her and her family. Iris fears what the fandom is capable of—and that's before the movie adaptation begins filming. But when Iris tries to shut down the production, she learns she doesn't have the story quite right. A fun light-hearted read! More info →
While it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single, Muslim man must be in want of a wife, there’s an even greater truth: “To his Indian mother, his own inclinations were of secondary importance.” In this retelling of Jane Austen's comedy of manners, set in contemporary Toronto, Darcy becomes Khalid, a devout Muslim man whose mother is trying to marry him off. Elizabeth becomes Ayesha, a teacher who’d much prefer to be a poet. When they first meet, it’s utter disaster: she thinks he’s rigid and judgmental; he thinks she’s not a good Muslim because of the drink (virgin) and cigarettes (not hers) she’s holding. But circumstances bring them together again, of course. I loved the supporting cast featuring good friends, a cousin dreaming of a Bollywood-inspired wedding, an embarrassing mother, and a Shakespeare-quoting grandpa. If you’re a P&P devotee, this is a delight. If you’ve never read the original, you can still enjoy this story about family, friendship, and love. More info →
Annie Cassidy is a Nora Ephron-obsessed writer who dreams of both writing a rom com and finding a Tom Hanks of her own to love. Those dreams begin to come true when a Hollywood film crew invades her Columbus neighborhood to shoot a new romantic comedy featuring the handsome Drew Danforth … who Annie believes to be an overgrown manchild who cares more about on-set pranks than acting the part of a serious film star. But as Annie gets to know the people on set better, her life starts to take on an eery resemblance to some of her favorite movies. This familiar story feels fresh and fun in Winfrey's hands, and absolutely oozes charm. (In this closed-door romance, the sexy stuff is present, but happens offscreen.) Bonus: you'll come away with a long list of rom coms to watch. More info →
When Economics professor Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend Nicholas Young, she has no idea his family is worth billions. Instead of the lovely vacation she imagined, she spends her days navigating the complicated and perilous world of three mega rich Chinese families, as Nick's mom schemes to drive the couple apart. This is an insider look at wealthy Singapore society that toes the line between fun romp and over the top parody. (The movie version—which I thoroughly enjoyed—is decidedly more rom com in flavor than the book.) More info →
Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera teamed up to give us this fun, light-hearted read. When Arthur and Ben meet at the post office right before a flash mob breaks out, Arthur is convinced the Universe brought them together. Even if he doesn’t know Ben’s name. Arthur decides he’s going to help the Universe bring their paths back together. You’ll love watching Ben and Arthur find their way to one another and what happens once they do. More info →
Fans of Sally Thorne's The Hating Game will enjoy this fun office romance! Carter and Evie meet at a Halloween party and start to date, only to evolve into office enemies when a corporate merger has them vying for the same position. They take pranks to a whole new level. Add in witty banter and this one will have you laughing out loud for sure as Carter and Evie figure out the thin line between love and hate. More info →
Readers, what are YOUR favorite romantic comedies? Tell us your favorite books—and films—in comments.
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