Romantic fiction originated in the 18th century, and the first ever recorded romance novel was written in 1740. Since then, the genre has grown incredibly popular and brought us to all of the romance novels that we see today.
Romance is one of the most popular genres of books in the modern day, and despite all of the choices we have now, people still really enjoy the classics. There is a reason that all of the stories on this list are such popular bestsellers; they are exciting, romantic, and have everything that you would want in a book, no matter what year they were published.
The 30 Most Popular Romance Books of All Time
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are both prideful people, and when they first meet they don’t think too much of each other. Elizabeth even finds Darcy slightly off putting, seeing that he is arrogant and conceited.
When Elizabeth discovers that Darcy is involved in the relationship between her sister and another man, Elizabeth vows to dislike him even more. But soon Elizebeth realizes she may have misjudged him, and their relationship changes.
You can purchase Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen here.
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
When Lily meets Ryle, she can’t deny their immediate connection, and it almost seems too good to be true. Ryle has a rule where he doesn’t date anyone but soon Lily becomes the exception. Still, she wonders why he had that rule in the first place.
When Lily’s first love, Atlas, reappears out of nowhere, Lily and Ryle’s relationship is suddenly threatened and Lily doesn’t know what to do.
You can find It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover here.
50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Anastasia Steele is a literature student who is interviewing Christian Grey, a young and intimidating entrepreneur. Ana and Grey are immediately attracted to each other, so their relationship begins.
Despite Grey’s amazing successes, he is also grappling with demons of his own, and during their relationship Ana begins to learn all of Grey’s secrets.
You can read 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James here.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Noah Calhoun has just returned to North Carolina after World War II, and he can’t stop thinking about the girl that got away years earlier.
Allie Nelson is getting ready to marry a rich lawyer, but she can’t get the boy she loved so long ago out of her head.
This is the story of their love and the triumph and miracles that follow it.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks can be purchased here.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Huang
Stella Lane is a girl who relies on math to tell her all of the answers to life, and she’s made a ton of money by creating an algorithm for predicting customer purchases. She hasn’t had much experience in the dating world and she wants more practice, so she hires an escort.
Michael agrees to help Stella, and soon their practice relationship starts to feel more real than they ever expected.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene
Hazel has known she was terminal ever since her diagnosis, but a recent medical miracle shrunk her tumor and bought her a few more years of life. When Augustus shows up at the cancer kid support group that Hazel attends, she doesn’t realize how much he will change her life.
This is a bold and insightful story about young love and enjoying life while you have the chance.
You can find The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene here.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
It is 1945 and Claire Randall has just returned home to her husband after being a combat nurse in World War II. She and her husband decide to go on a second honeymoon, and all is going well until Claire goes to an ancient stone ruin and transports to 1743.
In 1743 Scotland, Claire is surrounded by war and ruin. Then she meets James Fraser, and suddenly Claire is torn between two different men in two different times.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon can be found here.
Love Story by Eric Seghal
Oliver is a jock who comes from a rich family, and he’s about to study law at Harvard University. Jenny is working-class and studying music at Radcliffe. They couldn’t be more different, but when the two meet they are immediately and undeniably attracted to each other.
This is the emotional and joyous story of the love that Oliver and Jenny experience together.
You can read Love Story by Eric Seghal here.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Scarlett O’Hara is a spoiled and wealthy girl who is the daughter of a plantation owner. Scarlett is just starting to grow up when the Civil War starts. This is an unforgettable story of passion, manipulation, and courage that is considered a classic and has been read by many people throughout the years.
You can find Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell here.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Many people consider this book to be ahead of its time because of the way Brontë talks about sexuality, class, and religion, and the story focuses a lot on the protagonist’s self-growth.
In this book, we hear about Jane Eyre as she grows up and has many experiences, and we see her relationship blossom with Mr. Rochester, the master of Thornfield Hall.
You can purchase Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë here.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor and Park both know what it feels like to be outcasts, and when they meet one day on the school bus, it feels like fate.
The two teens develop a relationship with each other, and even though they know that young love rarely lasts, they are still desperate to try.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell can be found here.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
Florentino has always loved Fermina, but in their youth, Fermina chose to marry another man who was a wealthy doctor. Florentino has been devastated ever since, and he’s never stopped loving Fermina.
When her husband dies, Florentino goes to the funeral. He’s been waiting for the perfect day to profess his love for Fermina, and 50 years after doing it once before, he is ready to do so again.
You can read Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez here.
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
Simon Basset is the Duke of Hastings and the town’s society mothers want nothing more than to see him married. But Simon doesn’t want to marry, so he only pretends to be engaged to Daphne Bridgerton to keep the mothers happy.
Since the Duke has declared Daphne desirable, she knows this will open doors for her to be with other men. But as she and Simon start spending more time together, their relationship starts to feel more real than they expected.
You can find The Duke and I by Julia Quinn here.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Louisa Clark is a small-town girl with a safe life when she takes a job working for Will Traynor. Will was recently in an accident that left him in a wheelchair, and his lavish lifestyle was immediately put to a halt.
When Louisa finds out that Will has extreme plans that will change everything, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living after his accident.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes can be read here.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
When Catherine Earnshaw rejects Heathcliff, he is very upset. Heathcliff is an orphan, and Catherine chose someone with a more stable background than him. Heathcliff is determined to win her back, so he vows to get revenge and destroy anyone who tries to get in his way.
You can purchase Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë here.
Vision in White by Nora Roberts
Mac is a wedding photographer who is very good at her job. When she runs into the bride’s brother before a wedding rehearsal, she can’t deny the immediate attraction between them.
Carter is a stable English teacher, and he’s definitely not the type of guy that Mac usually goes for. But she thinks that a casual fling could be just what she needs right now, and soon it is turning into something much more than that.
You can read Vision in White by Nora Roberts here.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Augustus Everett writes literary fiction and January Andrews writes romance. The two authors are very successful and have very different writing styles, and they find themselves staying in houses on the beach right next to each other for the summer.
Augustus and January are both plagued with writer’s block, and when they meet they come up with a plan: January will try writing in Augustus’ style, and Augustus will try writing in January’s style. What happens next is a compilation of events that may be romantic, but nobody is falling in love…right?
You can purchase Beach Read by Emily Henry here.
Emma by Jane Austen
Emma Woodhouse is happy with her life and doesn’t see a reason to find love or marriage. Still, this doesn’t stop her from meddling in other people’s relationships. Emma decides to find a match for Harriet, her protégée, but Emma’s plan changes things that she never expected.
Emma is clever, headstrong, and unforgettable, and the story explores the lives of women living in Regency times.
Emma by Jane Austen can be found here.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This is the story of Anna Karenina, who is unhappy in her marriage and begins a secret affair. She is desperate to find happiness while making her way through the societal norms that plague her life.
This book brings up themes of love, passion, and sacrifice, and it’s very candid in its way of doing so. It also talks about the darker parts of society and it’s an unforgettable read.
You can find Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy here.
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
It is the night before his ex’s wedding, and Drew doesn’t have a plus one to take with him. But when he gets stuck with a stranger on an elevator, Drew can’t help but think she would be the perfect date.
Alexa agrees to go to the wedding with Drew and they end up having an amazing time. But when it’s over, the two have to fly back to their respective homes across the country from one another. And despite the distance between Alexa and Drew, they can’t stop thinking about each other.
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory can be read here.
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
It is summer and Elio is at his parent’s house on the Italian Riviera when Oliver, a man Elio knows little about, comes to visit. The two form an instant connection and a summer romance blossoms before their eyes.
This is a heart-rending story about young love, desire, and finding someone who you can be completely yourself around.
You can purchase Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman here.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Lucy and Joshua have hated each other ever since they became colleagues at work. They show their hatred in the form of immature and passive-aggressive games, and since they sit across from each other, this is a constant occurrence.
When Lucy and Joshua are both being considered for a major promotion, they know this is the most important game yet. But the tension between them is becoming too much, and soon they don’t know if what they feel for each other is even hate at all.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne can be found here.
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
You’ve probably heard of this classic play before, which is about two young people who fall in love even though they shouldn’t. Their families are at war with each other, and they definitely don’t approve of Romeo and Juliet being together.
This is a story of young love filled with passion, misery, and death.
You can purchase Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare here.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
When Bella meets Edward and finds out he is a vampire, she is intrigued. She knows that there is a part of Edward that wants her blood, but he tries hard to keep it concealed. And despite the fact that he could be dangerous to her, Bella can’t deny that she is in love with him.
Edward has managed to keep the fact that he’s a vampire a secret for a very long time, but when Bella comes along, everything changes. He wants more than anything to keep her safe, but as long as she is around him, he doesn’t know how that is possible.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer can be found here.
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
It’s 2058 in New York City, and Eve Dallas is a police lieutenant who has just been assigned to a new case. A woman has been killed, and Eve needs to figure out what happened and why.
When she meets Roarke, a handsome, wealthy, and influential man, Eve finds that she is falling for him. But this is a complicated situation, because Roarke is also the #1 suspect in the murder investigation, and Eve knows she is going down a dangerous road.
You can find Naked in Death by J.D. Robb here.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Claire is an artist who lives a logical life, and Henry is a daring librarian who also happens to be able to time travel. This is the story of their romance, celebrating the love that they share across time. It is passionate, exciting, and tests the boundaries of fate.
You can purchase The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger here.
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Eva Mercy and Shane Hall are both writers who meet at a literary event in New York. But nobody knows that Shane and Eva have already met, and 15 years ago they shared an unforgettable week in love together.
When they meet again, Shane and Eva can’t deny that the chemistry is still there, and they reconnect over the next 7 days. But Eva can’t get over how Shane broke her heart all those years ago, and she needs him to answer some questions before he leaves yet again.
You can read Seven Days in June by Tia Williams here.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Lara Jean is 16 and has had 5 crushes over the course of her life. Every time she loved a boy, she would write him a letter pouring out her entire heart and soul, then store it away in her room where nobody would find it. Lara Jean never intended for these letters to be seen by anyone else, but one day, they are all gone.
When Lara Jean finds out that they were sent to the 5 boys she wrote them for, she is expecting chaos. But it turns out that this might have worked in her favor, because suddenly Lara Jean’s nonexistent love life is becoming far too real.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han can be found here.
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
Stella Grant is used to being in the hospital, having been in and out of it for the majority of her life. Now, Stella needs to stay at least 6 feet away from everyone so that she doesn’t get any diseases that would jeopardize her chance of getting a lung transplant.
Will Newman is about to turn 18, and when that happens he is going to leave the hospital behind and finally go see the world.
When Will and Stella meet, they know they need to stay away from each other. After all, both of their lives are at risk and either one of them could die. But soon, staying apart starts to feel more like suffering than safety.
You can read Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott here.
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Becky Bloomwood has an amazing flat in London and a closet packed full of the trendiest clothing, but there is one small problem: She can’t afford any of it. Becky’s boring writing job doesn’t pay her nearly enough money, and she is in tremendous debt.
Becky decides to cut back on her shopping habit, but it proves to be much harder than she thought. Then Becky gets a front-page article about something that she actually cares about, and she doesn’t realize how this will change her life and relationships for good.
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella can be purchased here.
What is the most bought romance novel ever?
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James is the most bought romance novel, having sold over 150 million copies since its publishing in 2011.
What are the top five most popular romance novels?
These are currently the highest-selling romance novels:
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (150 million copies sold)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (120 million copies sold)
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (105 million copies sold)
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (30 million copies sold)
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (25 million copies sold)
How we classify “popularity” in romance novels is debatable, but for the sake of this question we have just gone with the top-selling novels.
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