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”
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!
Circe is awesome! And if you do want a romance I highly recommend her other book The Song of Achilles!
Oh, I thought Dark Matter was really quite romantic! I loved that book! Really want to read Lincoln in the Bardo, and what a beautiful cover! 😍
I definitely can see how Dark Matter has an element of romance! I think I included it because it is still one I would recommend to someone who does not enjoy romance!
Yes I agree! I don’t love romance in books but I really enjoyed Dark Matter!
I really want to read Circe. Seriously great post 💕
Thank you! It’s an amazing book!
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…
Thank you! I think Eleanor Oliphant sort of hints at a romance but your never quite sure. I love the idea of them just being friends but I can definitely see it going either way!
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!
Scythe is amazing! I bet it’s awesome on audiobook.
I hope so! I listened to the sample and the narrator seemed alright.
I love Wonder!! It’s such a beautiful book with so many meaningful messages! I cried a lot when I read it, but it was very much worth it! Great list!
Wonder is a book I think everyone should read. It’s beautiful and your right, it has an important message.
Thank you for this list! I have read Life of Pi, but not the rest. 🙂
Oh good! I’m glad I could recommend you some new books without romance!
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.
That exciting to hear a out This Savage Song. I have had it on my TBR for ages but it just moved up the list!
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.
I completely agree! We need more books like that.
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!
That’s a great way to describe Circe. Miller had such a way with words!
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.
I cannot believe I forgot about The Poppy War! I adore that book!
Such a great list! I love so many of these books! Life of pi, Wonder, Eleanor Oliphant, dark matter and the martian. I agree with you about circe as well!
Thank you! Such great books!
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!
Thank you! I’m going to start keeping track of the book me I read without romance so I can have more recommendations in the future.
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.
So happy you loved those books. All the Light has stayed with me and it has been years since I read it!
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 😀
I am exactly like that! Ghost has been on my list for ages. I read A Long Way Down by him last year and thought it was brilliant!
A Long Way Down was sooo good 😀
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 😍
That sounds great! Thanks for the recommendation.
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!
I really think you would enjoy Circe. It is a powerful story.
Circe is filled with romance and much jealousy around favouritism.
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?
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!