Books Without Romance

I recently posted The Perfect Book Tag and in one of my answers I talked about how my ideal novel would not have a romance. That got me thinking about how few books I have read that truly have no romance. There were many commentors who work looking for the same thing so I thought I would share some of my favourites from a variety of genres!

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel


Life of Pi is one of the few books that I have reread. I read it when it first came out and then again a couple years ago. I appreciated it so much more upon rereading it! There is absolutely no romance in this story as it is about a young boy who survives over 200 days in the ocean with his only company being a Bengal tiger. There is something so brilliant about this one and about how Martel weaves his story.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


All the Light We Cannot See is a book that deserves all of the hype that it gets. It is so beautifully written and has great characters. I have read many WWII historical fiction novels and this one stands out among the rest. It was compelling to see how the stories of our two main characters eventually converged. It has been years since I read it and I would love to experience the story again soon.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


I think part of why I appreciated Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine so much is because there was no romance. It is more about the power of friendship and about watching Eleanor’s journey to self-discovery and self-acceptance. The friendship between Eleanor and Raymond is adorable and sweet and I could have read about it for many more pages.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


A Man Called Ove is another book that focuses on the power of friendship. The friendship between a grump old man and his younger, very pregnant neighbour is so freaking charming! I had a huge smile on my face the entire time I was reading it. There is a little element of romance in that we flashback to scenes of Ove’s life with his wife but they are a small part of the story and I think even non-romance readers will find them to be sweet scenes.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio


Since I began blogging, I have started to appreciate middle grade novels more and more. One of the reasons is because they rarely include romance, which makes sense! Wonder is heartwarming that it brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Of course, there are some difficult scenes, but Auggie is such a sweet character and it was a joy to read about his journey. The final scene is one of my favourite moments of all time!

The Martian by Andy Weir


The Martian is about a man who is trapped on Mars, alone- so yes, no romance! Mark Watney is freaking hilarious and makes the book, which had the potential to be boring, extremely exciting and interesting. This book is so hyped and it deserves it! It is one of the books that got me in to SciFi in the first place.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch


Dark Matter is another SciFi novel that I would say has no romance. The main character is married and is trying to get back to his wife but that is about as romantic as it gets. There is so much action in this story and your mind is constantly racing trying to figure out what is going on. It is the perfect combination of Science Fiction and Thriller.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders


Lincoln in the Bardo is a book that takes some getting used to. It is a historical fiction novel that has elements of magical realism, and it is told in a very unique way. It is difficult to keep track of all of the characters, but it is worth the effort. It touches on a lot of interesting topics such a life and death, grief, and familial love. It still haunts me to this day.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman


I have only read the first novel so I am not sure if there is romance in the sequel but as I recall there wasn’t any in Scythe. I have talked about my love for Scythe quite a bit recently- I just can’t help myself! It is so good- you need to read it. I thought it brought up some fascinating moral and ethical questions, and it has one of my favourite villains ever!

Circe by Madeleine Miller


You could argue that there is a romance in Circe but I never viewed it as particularly romantic. To me, this is a book all about Circe and only Circe. The secondary characters, while interesting, are not who I was interested in. I could have read pages and pages of just Circe on her island alone- she was that intriguing to me!


I have to admit that I struggled coming up with books that did not have a romance. For all I know, a romance could play a bigger part in these stories than I remember! Please leaves any recommendations you have in the comments! Help me!


43 thoughts on “Books Without Romance

  1. Yikes, I haven’t read any of these! I really want to read Circe, though. I’ve heard amazing things about it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great list! The Martian would have been near the top of mine, too. Life of Pi is also a favorite. Although I have to say that I smelt a little romance in Eleanor Oliphant, but maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part…

  3. Oooh, now I’m even more excited to read Scythe! I actually have the audiobook. Maybe I’ll make it my next audiobook. 😀 I’m constantly on the hunt for books without romance!

  4. Cool list with different genres as well. I’ve read Scythe and Circe and really loved them. Another book without romance is This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. It’s YA fantasy and it so rare to find those without a romance.

  5. This is such a great list. Sometimes it’s great to read books without romance in them, and that focus more on the power of friendship.

  6. Great lists. I’m not a big romance fan so I much appreciate this 🙂

    I did think Circe is one of those strange books that are romantic without a romance like the beauty of the story itself and Miller’s prose. Pushed my buttons more than most full blown romances!

  7. Yes I loved Scythe so much too!! Last month I read The Poppy War which had no romance in it as well and just as much as I enjoy romance in novels it can be so refreshing to just read a novel without any for once.

  8. Wonderful post, Kristin! I am not a massive romance fan, so I was on a hunt for non-romance books! This is a great list of books – I need to check out the ones that I haven’t read!

  9. I have read Wonder, All the Light We Cannot See and Life of Pi. I have to say these books were all so refreshing and I enjoyed them all so much. All the Light We Cannot see was stand out for me, I literally cried when I finished it because I felt like I had gone on a lifelong journey with the main characters. Life of Pi was also amazing, written in such an engimatic way, really original plot as well. I recently reviewed Wonder too. Love this collection of Books Without Romance.

  10. There are times when all I want is a romance novel and then there are times when I don’t want to even see the word love and this list is perfect for those times. I read A Man Called Ove fairly recently and I loved it. It was so pure and sweet and felt so real. Middle grade is a great genre for books without romance. I read Ghost by Jason Reynolds last week and it was really refreshing 😀

  11. One of my favourite no-romance stories is The Universe vs Alex Woods! And I totally agree with you that Scythe and Wonder are fantastic 😍

  12. Oh Circe sounds so interesting! I definitely would like to read that one some time soon. And I agree: All the Light We Cannot See is a beautiful book that deserves all the hype!

  13. I have not read any of these, but they are going on my list. I do LOVE romance but it must be a romance with intelligence and meaning- not just sex. Why is it that you don’t like romance?

    1. I can love romance but I dislike when books throw in a romance that feels unnecessary. Not every novels needs a romance but it seems like most do. Some of my favourite books are romance but I knew that going in and it was the main focus of the book.

      I think it is refreshing to read a non romance every once in awhile!

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