This content contains affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through these links.

Romance is common in books of all genres. While books aren’t specifically about romance, romantic subplots are common. If you’re looking for a bit of romance on the side, you can find it in space operas, crime novels, epic fantasies, badass YA, historical fiction, and every other type of book under the sun. However, if you are looking for books with no romance, it gets tougher. But they do exist!

These six contemporary novels all contain (almost) no romance. Some of them mention romance, but none of them have romantic plots or subplots. Some of the characters in these books are in romantic relationships at one point or another, but those relationships are only briefly touched upon. Romance is not what drives the plot. Instead, these books are about friendship, grief, family, self-discovery, and work. There are so many interesting and important things that happen to people besides falling in love, and these books explore all of these messy, non-romantic things.

The subtweet from Vivek Shraya

Friendship is such a complex relationship and such an important part of our life. Still, it is rare to find adult books that focus on friendship. This is exactly what this novel does. It’s about two South Asian musicians, Neela and Rukmini, who become friends after Rukmini covered one of Neela’s songs and it went viral. Shraya explores all of the heartaches, challenges, and joys of female friendship, as well as brown femininity, internet culture, fame, racism in the music industry, and more.

Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante

This is another amazing book about friendship! The narrator is a trans woman whose best friend Viv has just passed away. Viv was obsessed with a TV show, Little Blue, so the narrator decides to write an encyclopedia about the show to mourn and remember her friend. It’s a celebration of trans friendship and a nice meditation on grief. It’s quirky and fun, and centers on platonic and family relationships.

The Far Field by Madhuri Mijay book cover

The far field of Madhuri Vijay

Shalini is a privileged young woman from Bangalore. After her mother’s unexpected death, she travels to Kashmir in search of a salesman who often visits her parents’ house. She believes that finding him will shed some light on her mother’s life. But when she arrives in Kashmir, she faces not only the confused politics of the region, but the long-lasting and devastating effects of her presence there. So much happens in this novel. It’s about grief, wealth and privileges, political upheaval, violence and power. There are so many deeply human stories to tell that aren’t about falling in love and falling in love and this is one of them.

Book offers newsletter

Sign up for our Book Deals newsletter and get up to 80% discount on books you actually want to read.

Thanks for signing up! Keep an eye on your inbox.

By registering, you agree to our terms of use

Book cover breasts and eggs

Breasts and eggs from Mieko Kawakami

I was hesitant about including this because there is a bit of romance towards the end, as well as a few flashbacks that involve a romantic relationship. But I chose this because it’s such a unique book on topics so often associated with romance: parenting and childbirth. Natsu has always wanted to have children, but she has no interest in sex. Throughout the book she grapples with this question about having children and the narrow and limiting social expectations that are placed on women. Natsu is such a wonderful character full of questions and contradictions. It’s a pleasure to witness her journey, which is both about figuring out what she wants and how to get it.

Little beauty by jia qing wilson-yang

This calm novel accompanies Mei, a Trans-Asian Canadian, through a year of sadness and transformation. Her beloved cousin has just died and left her his house in the town where they both grew up. So she leaves the city to reconnect with her past for a year. Like so many books on this list, this novel is about friendship and family relationships. I could honestly have read an entire book about Mei’s every relationship: her cousin, her mother, her grandmother, her best friend. They are all so nuanced and thoughtful.

Caul Baby book cover

Caul Baby from Morgan Jerkins

While there are some romantic relationships in this novel, we see very little of them and they are not the focus. In a lush and beautiful intergenerational story about two black families in Harlem, Jerkins explores black feminism, gentrification, reproductive justice, and the complex relationships between women. The melancons are known for their medicinal herbs, which they sell to wealthy white customers. When they refuse to sell a cock to a pregnant black woman, it sets in motion a chain of events that bind their two families together forever.

If you’re looking for more books with no romance, check out 100 Must-Read YA Books with Little or No Romance and also these three cutting edge YA books with no romance too.