When the world feels a little heavy – or even just if your housemates refuse to turn on the central heating – one of the best remedies is to curl up in your warm bed and watch a romantic comedy. With their comfortingly predictable storylines, sizzling chemistry and guaranteed happily-ever-afters, they can be the perfect way to while away an afternoon.
Of course, you can find this same sense of escapism with a really good book. In fact, since you can dip in and out of a book on your morning commute, it might just be a more practical solution for battling the blues.
So, we got to thinking: what if you could combine the joy of reading a book with the dopamine boost you get from watching a rom-com? So, we created a comprehensive guide to which book should be your next read, based on your favourite romantic comedy.
Nora Ephron is the queen of the romantic comedy genre, and When Harry Met Sally is arguably her finest work. It’s got wit, it’s got heart, it’s got Meg Ryan proving that women can fake their orgasms.
If you can’t get enough of the friends-to-lovers storyline Ephron nailed so deftly, look no further than Emily Henry’s You and Me on Vacation. The book follows best friends Poppy and Alex who usually go on holiday together every year but find, on the 12th year of this tradition, that their relationship is at a crossroads.
Full of sparky dialogue and sexual tension, this book is perfect for Ephron lovers – although we also recommend The Most of Nora Ephron, which is a compilation of her best written work.
When film star Anna Scott walks into an ordinary man’s bookstore in Notting Hill, the chemistry between the two characters is undeniable. And while many things stand in their way (fame, paparazzi, Alec Baldwin), there’s no keeping them apart.
Similarly, Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest novel explores what happens when TV script writer Sally forms a connection with pop icon Noah. When two people are right for each other, but live in different worlds, does their relationship stand a chance? Maybe - if he’s just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to love him.
If you felt mortified for Bridget Jones when her mother told Mark Darcy she “used to run around [his] lawn with no clothes on” as a child, just know it could have been a lot worse. In Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? the protagonist, Yinka, is singled out at her sister’s baby shower as her aunt leads friends and family in prayer, asking God to find Yinka a husband.
Following this event, Yinka is determined to find a suitor she can bring to her cousin’s upcoming wedding. While Yinka and Bridget share the same pressure to find a partner from their funny and well-meaning families, Yinka’s journey involves some vital lessons about love in all its forms.
In Rye Lane, strangers Dom and Yas help each other get over their respective break-ups through spontaneous karaoke, moped rides, and even breaking and entering into a certain ex-boyfriend’s home...
This same sense of fun and adventure is at the heart of The Flip Side. When Josh’s girlfriend admits she has been unfaithful, he finds himself single, jobless and back home with his parents. He decides to let fate make his decisions from now on. As in Rye Lane, this spontaneity has mixed results.
Meghan Quinn is open about the fact that her novel was inspired by the ’90s classic My Best Friend’s Wedding. While the film follows Julia Roberts as she comes to terms with the fact she is in love with her best friend, who is about to get married, Quinn’s book centres on Lia, who has asked her best friend Breaker to be the “man in waiting” on her big day. The only glitch? Breaker slowly realises he is in love with her. Fans of slow-burning friends-to-lovers storylines and palpable sexual chemistry will love this one.
In the 2018 film, as in the book on which it is based, Simon falls in love with his closeted classmate “Blue” on an anonymous email chatroom. However, things take a turn when someone finds out and tries to blackmail Simon.
While this story tackles the issue of homophobia, at its heart it’s an uplifting romance that’s big on acceptance and being true to yourself. The film adaptation is heart-warming and funny, but we think the book has more bite; it’s worth reading for the witty exchanges between Simon and Blue alone.
If you’re looking for the warm and fuzzy feeling you get while watching Richard Curtis’s Christmas classic, we strongly recommend One Day in December. In this winter-themed love story, Laurie locks eyes with Jack from a misty bus window, and they are both struck by immediate attraction. But as Jack moves to get on the bus, it pulls away, and Laurie assumes she will never see him again. That is, until she is introduced to Jack – as her best friend’s new boyfriend. This love story takes surprising turns, as both try to resist their feelings over several years. But, to quote Love Actually, at Christmas you tell the truth…
Whether it’s the ’90s fashion, the perfect casting, or the ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ scene, 10 Things I Hate About You is the ultimate feel-good romantic comedy. But its convoluted plot – two boys must persuade another high-schooler to take out Katerina so one of them can date her younger sister – is based on Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew. While the play differs from the film, especially in terms of the play’s controversial ending, we think it’s still worth reading for the film’s origin story.
Last Time We Met doesn’t involve a teenager waking up in a 30-year-old’s body, but it does share a lot of the same themes as 13 Going on 30. Namely, it’s about Eleanor and Fin, who were best friends as teenagers but have drifted apart as adults – until an event causes them to reconnect in their 30s. With a lot of things left unsaid, they face the same dilemma as Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner’s characters in the film: has too much time passed for them to belong together?
If you’re looking for a book with more of a time-travel component, we recommend Emma Straub’s latest novel, This Time Tomorrow, where 39-year-old Alice wakes up in her 16-year-old body; it’s like a reverse 13 Going on 30.
Well, of course.