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I’ll never forget the day I went to the bookstore with two of my best friends, all of us high school graduates, and as we walked between the shelves, I suddenly found myself alone in the young adult department. Where were my friends? Up until that day, we had spent years searching the shelves of the YA departments of libraries and bookstores together. We’d pick stacks of YA books to bring home and share with one another year-round. We even got to the point of reading the same issue of Twilight at the same time we were hanging out together. This is no joke. The person in the middle was holding the book, and we all raised our little fingers as we were ready to turn the page. I’m embarrassed and proud of our teenage self at the same time. Those were the good old days.

However, on that particular day, when we went to the bookstore after high school, my friends seemed to have reached an unspoken settlement. The YA section no longer had the same priority for them as before. I went looking for my friends and wandered the shelves until I found them in adult literature. How did they know it was time to move on to adult books? I still clung to my YA reads like life rafts. Back then, I wish I had known there was an excellent intermediate genre that spanned those years of shifting between high school and full-fledged adulthood. This is where new erotic books come into play. Goodreads defines new adult books as those in which protagonists are between 18 and 25 years old, or more generally between 18 and 30 years old.

Even though I grew up (even though we ever really are?), I’ve always stuck in my love of books for young people; They are exceptional reading at any age. However, sometimes I feel like reading a book with a protagonist my age. I like to be drawn into the world of a character who may be going through a relatable phase in my life, be it moving out of home, returning to school, starting your first job after college, or trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. I long for books on these subjects and new adult books to deliver.

When it comes to new adult books, new adult romance novels are my favorite. I love the cozy feel-good comfort of the new erotic-romance genre with its happy eternity for characters my age. It’s even more fun to read about situations in which I can introduce myself. As with YA, new books can be enjoyed for adults of all ages. So, if you’re looking for some cute new adult romance novels for an adorable summer read, browse below!

Emergency contact from Mary HK Choi cover

Emergency contact from Mary HK Choi

If you’re looking for some good new adult read, Korean-American author Mary HK Choi has written several books starring lovable college-aged protagonists. This poignant new adult romance novel follows Penny Lee as she escapes her hometown life to begin college in Austin, Texas. Sam, on the other hand, struggles to maintain his dream of becoming a film director while he lives in the storage room above the cafe where he works. When Penny and Sam meet, something sprays between them. They exchange numbers and begin a text messaging relationship in which they feel safe to share their deepest worries and feelings.

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Usually your book cover

Conventionally yours from Annabeth Albert

This queer new erotic romance takes place at one of my favorite hangouts: a gaming convention! It also promises lover enemies and “just a bed” tropes, which are always a plus. The popular Conrad Stewart may appear cool and collected on the outside, but deep down the turmoil of his life is brewing. The Jewish, neurodivergent and brilliant player Alden Roth also keeps his own feelings buried. When it comes to the world of tabletop gaming, the two are arch rivals, but a cross-country road trip to a fan convention could be just what it takes to show their true feelings.

When the shoe matches the book cover

If the shoe fits by Julie Murphy

Written by Julie Murphy, the best-selling Dumplin ‘author, this body-positive retelling by Cinderella makes for an incredibly sweet and feel-good romance for adults. Instead of just beginning her college career, the protagonist of this novel has just graduated with a degree in shoe design. While working on the reality TV show Before Midnight, which her stepmother is producing, Cindy gets a spot as one of the contestants in a last-minute opening. As the only plus-size woman in the competition, Cindy soon becomes an icon of body positivity and finds love along the way too.

Cover of Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Treasure from Rebekah Weatherspoon

For a cute and fun WLW adult romance, check out this adorable romance from Rebekah Weatherspoon. Aside from her sister’s bachelorette party, Alexis Chambers has had a rough year and her expectations for her upcoming freshman college are just as low. That is, until Treasure, the stunning bachelorette party stripper, gets into one of Alexis’ freshman classes. While juggling classes with her job as a stripper, Trisha Hamilton is pleased to find that she is sharing classes with shy baby-butch Alexis from the party.

A token of affection book cover

A Token of Affection, Vol. 1 by Suu Morishita, translated by Christine Dashiell

This adorable new adult manga romance follows Deaf college student Yuki after meeting popular and handsome classmate Itsuomi-san on the train. Itsuomi-kun speaks three languages, but sign language is not one of them. When the two get to know each other, Itsuomi-kun begins to study. Immerse yourself in this great art, unforgettable cast of characters and a heartwarming love story.

The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters cover

The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters

This adorable and uplifting new adult queer romance is the perfect summer read. A recent high school graduate, biracial Black teen Wesley Hudson is ready to make the most of his summer. While working at his beloved local indie bookstore discussing what to study at UCLA, Wesley wonders if now is the time to finally confess his feelings for his best friend, Nico.

Trade Me by Courtney Milan cover

Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Trying to make ends meet between her job and college class, Tina Chen can’t help but call her handsome billionaire classmate Blake Reynolds after making a snappy remark in class about money. To her surprise, Blake offers to swap with her for a semester: She gets his income, his car and his home while he goes about her job and sends money to her family. What starts out as a playful bargain turns into something much more in one of the best new adult romance novels.

An Acquired Taste Book Cover

An acquired taste from Kelly Cain

After graduating from cookery school and serving six years as head chef, Rowan Townsend’s expert kitchen from farm to table has brought many customers to her mother’s restaurant. While taking part in a TV cooking contest, Rowan is offended when she learns that her rival also took part in the Knox Everheart Cooking School. As the competition begins, Rowan may find that the kitchen is sparkling more than she expected.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston book cover

One last stop from Casey McQuiston

Take a trip to New York City with this lovely queer new adult romance written by Casey McQuiston, the bestselling red, white and royal blue author. When August, 23, moves to town, she meets a beautiful girl named Jane on the train, and her life will never be the same. August will soon learn that Jane is no ordinary girl; she’s stuck in the 1970s future and needs August’s help!

If you’re interested in learning more about new adult books or discovering new adult romance novels, see what some of our fellow Rioters have to say about them!