Sugary sweet romance, friends to lovers, a pretend relationship that becomes impossible to fake…what’s not to love about Jenny Han’s delightful trilogy of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You, and Always and Forever, Lara Jean. On top of all that goodness, Han is the kind of writer who crafts stories and characters that make you want to curl up on the couch with a cuppa and a cozy blanket.
Readers looking to recreate some of those Lara Jean feels, here’s a list of some young adult and adult books to check out next.
Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen
June 18, 2019
“After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have 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. The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…”
Mia and Jake are long-time neighbors. Mia has a crush on another boy and Jake just wants to get out of a family vacation, and come up with the best/worst plan to fake a relationship. I’m a sucker for fake boyfriend plots, so clearly this book is my jam. A pretend kiss gets a little too real, secret glances when the other isn’t looking, *le sigh*.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo
May 30, 2017
“Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends…Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.”
It’s hard to pick one book by Maurene Goo to add to this list – she’s written so many and they’re all EXCELLENT – but you can’t go wrong with I Believe in a Thing Called Love. If you love Lara Jean and her bumbling attempts at romance, then you need Desi Lee. Although Desi is a lot more focused on grades than Lara Jean, she’s just as much the romcom heroine. And like Lara Jean, Desi tries to organize and structure her romantic relationships and seems surprised when things don’t go according to plan. Cute, sweet, and charmingly romantic could apply to literally every book on this list, but especially this one.
From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon
May 22, 2018
“Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it…When mystery man N begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil. Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?”
Sandhya Menon is hands down one of the best teen contemporary romance writers of the 2010s and so obviously had to be on this list. Twinkle has big dreams – to be a filmmaker – but her love life isn’t so hot. She pines after Neil Roy, a half Indian half white boy, but his awkward twin brother Sahil pines after her. The book is written from Twinkle’s perspective as letters to her favorite women film directors, giving it an added layer of uniqueness.
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
May 15, 2018
“Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soulmate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her 18th birthday, and Raj meets all of the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked to return from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. Worse, Raj is crowned chair of the student film festival, a spot Winnie was counting on for her film school applications…Dev is smart, charming, and challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope to find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy, and her chance to live happily ever after?”
Speaking of film geek desi girls, Winnie has spent most of her life planning for a great love story. A romance with her boyfriend Raj was written in the stars…or so she thinks. After their breakup, she’s stuck working with him at a festival she needs for her film school apps. And then she gets to know Dev, the boy who may not be her destiny but might be worth giving a shot. This is Bollywood romance at it’s teen melodrama finest.
Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali
April 30, 2019
“When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break. Then her path crosses with Adam’s. Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister…Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals. Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…”
Moving away from the sugary and cute and into something a little more serious (but still seriously sweet) is Love from A to Z. Zayneb, half Pakistani and half West Indian, and Adam, half Chinese-Canadian and half Finnish, are both dealing with difficult issues – him with his disability, her with Islamophobia. Neither are really on the hunt for romance when the book opens, but love finds them anyway. Where Lara Jean is flighty and a little naive, Zayneb is outspoken and determined, but you can’t help but root for both girls.
Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia
August 2, 2016
“Reshma is a college counselor’s dream…What’s a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent’s help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford…To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she’s already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy. Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned.”
When Reshma signs a literary agent, she suddenly finds herself in the enviable but daunting position of having to write an actual young adult novel. What do many YA contemporary novels have in common? Romance and friendship drama Reshma, like Lara Jean, plans a fake relationship, but Reshma is more calculating and manipulative in choosing Aakash as her potential beau. She also blackmails her Adderall dealer into being her new bestie which gains her entry to the popular kids clique. As an antihero, it’s hard to like Reshma, but Rahul Kanakia keeps her story fun and flirty enough to pull the reader along.
I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
May 28, 2019
“Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement…But her mother sees this as a distraction from working on her portfolio paintings for the prestigious fine art academy where she’s been accepted for college. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life. When she arrives in Japan, she loses herself in Kyoto’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival–and meets Akira, a cute med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. What begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.”
As the daughter of a fourth-generation Japanese American man and a Japanese woman, Kimi’s trip to Kyoto is both familiar and foreign. Good thing she meets Akira, a handsome med student who offers her a whirlwind tour. There’s romance to be sure, but the heart of the story really lies in the familial relationships. Kimi has the chance to get to know her mother’s parents and understand why her mother is so driven and pushy about Kimi’s future. If you more of the Covey sisters family drama, I Love You So Mochi is the novel for you.
Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra
July 2, 2019
“Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer. She’s always had to balance family and friendships with her celebrity as the Girl Genius—but she’s never had to prove herself to skeptical adult co-workers while adjusting to real life-and-death stakes…But life gets complicated when Saira finds herself falling in love with a patient: a cute teen boy who’s been diagnosed with cancer. And when she risks her brand new career to try to improve his chances, it could cost her everything. It turns out “heartbreak” is the one thing she still doesn’t know how to treat.”
Lara Jean is about as far from a teen medical prodigy as it gets, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put Symptoms of a Heartbreak on your post-To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before TBR pile. Indian American Saira is a girl who knows what she wants in life and knows how to get it. But love upends her plans and makes her take chances she would normally avoid. Link, a cute half Korean and half Scottish/Dutch boy suffering from leukemia, needs a bone marrow transplant, and Saira is the only one who can help him. Along the way she gains her first real friends and learns how to live a life beyond achieving her goals and objectives.
American Panda by Gloria Chao
February 6, 2018
“At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan…With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese. But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?”
Part of what makes Lara Jean so interesting as a character is that she isn’t quite sure who she is. Her journey in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before isn’t just about falling in love, it’s about learning about herself and what kind of woman she wants to become. In American Panda, Mei is going through the same revelation. Her parents have a strict plan for her…but as she goes to MIT for a medical degree she quickly realizes what they want isn’t what she wants. This is a coming-of-age tale with plenty of romance and family drama to keep the plot moving.
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
March 27, 2018
“For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent…When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind. Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially…When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.”
If Jenny Han had written a book about Margot instead, it might have looked something like Emergency Contact. Like Lara Jean’s older sister, Korean American Penny Lee goes to college in a faraway city as unlike her hometown as possible. She wants to leave her old life behind and move on to something new, something hers. The romance between her and Sam takes a backseat to their blossoming friendship and their troubles with their parental units (absent fathers, problematic mothers), but you’ll still get swept away.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Crazy Rich Asians #1 – May 20, 2014
“When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.”
Look, I know. On every To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before reading guide, Crazy Rich Asians is going to have a spot. I think it’s a law or something. But it really is the perfect next step up from YA Asian American romcoms. Rachel is bright and clever and the kind of character you love spending time with. This novel is as much a critique of extravagance and wealth as it is a love story between two flawed but fun characters.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient #1 – June 5, 2018
“It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…”
Charming, romantic, funny, and endearing, The Kiss Quotient is everything you need in an adult romcom novel. Stella and Michael have a lot of reasons for keeping their sexual relationship strictly professional, but the heart wants what the heart wants. This novel has unexpected depth and a whole lotta heart.
Almost Single by Advaita Kala
January 30, 2007
“Between elegant soirees and the occasional mortifying mishap, Aisha Bhatia’s job as guest relations manager at New Delhi’s five-star Grand Orchid Hotel is intermittently fabulous—she certainly knows her wines and cheeses. But despite a life filled with good friends and first-class travel accommodations, the fact is that not many twenty-nine-year-old women in India are single—as Aisha’s mother never fails to remind her…Yet when the handsomely chiseled Karan Verma arrives from New York, Aisha experiences an unexpected attitude adjustment. Karan is everything she’s ever wanted…that is, if she actually knew what she wanted. Is it possible that she’s about to find out?”
Aisha Bathia is India’s answer to Bridget Jones, a single woman in her late twenties looking for love in all the wrong places. As she tries as fails at various modern dating tricks, she can’t stop thinking about the devilishly handsome Karan Verma. This light, breezy novel is the ideal read for a sunny summer weekend.
Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
Sofia Khan #1 – September 3, 2015
“Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene. As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love?”
This novel is another Bridget Jones remix, but you can’t go wrong with a solid format. Written as journal entries, Sofia tells the story of her breakup with her fiance who wants to move in with his parents to writing a bestselling book on Muslim dating to her kooky dating adventures to finally falling in love once more. With her sarcastic attitude, witty humor, and willingness to try new things, Sofia is an engaging alternative to Lara Jean.