Top Ten Tuesday

Books To Read If You Love Pen Pal Romances {Top Ten Tuesday}

190730 Books To Read If You Love Pen Pal Romances
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Hi everybody, and welcome to a new Top Ten Tuesday!

Today’s topic was a freebie and I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about a trope I love dearly, and yet doesn’t seem to be very popular in common media: the pen pal romance. I LOVE pen pal romances. Maybe it’s because I myself am an awkward potato in real life and am much more comfortable expressing myself in writing. I just love the idea of opening up to someone in writing and falling in love with the other person’s writing and words, without even knowing what they look like. Whenever I come across this concept in a book, I am reduced to a swoony, smiling pile of happiness on the floor. Seriously.

Also, please note that when I say pen pal romance I include the whole range of pen pal media: written letters, email, chat or texts. Either one does the trick for me!

So without further ado, I present to you my nine favorite pen pal romances:

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
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Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
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p-s-i-like-you-by-kasie-west
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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

We all know this one by now, but just as a refresher: this book is about Simon, a gay kid who isn’t out yet to anyone, except to his pen pal Blue. Unfortunately that all changes when the class clown discovers his emails to Blue and blackmails him to help him with his love life. It sounds dark and blackmailing to out someone is a serious topic, and yet this is one of the CUTEST books I ever read and that’s all due to Simon and Blue and their adorable emails.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

When Jessie’s mom dies she’s forced to move across the country to live with her father and his new wife and stepson. She’s having a tough time being away from her friends and trying to adjust to life at her new school, until she gets an e-mail from someone called SN (Somebody/Nobody). SN is such a big help and Jessie begins to rely on them – even falls in love?

PS I Like You by Kasie West

What starts out as scribbled song lyrics on a school desk, turns into a full-blown pen pal romance in this adorable Kasie West novel. I especially loved this because a lot of the bonding Lilly and her mysterious pen pal do is over music and I’m a sucker for musical bonding, but also because this book features another favorite trope of mine…

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
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Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
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Geekerella by Ashley Poston
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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I’m calling it now, The Flatshare is my favorite pen pal romance on this list… at least for now. This story’s about two people, Tiffy and Leon, who share a flat. And a bed. But have never met. Sounds fun, right? Tiffy and Leon are roommates, but because Leon works nights, they never meet – so they start communicating through post-it notes left around the appartment. It’s the most cute and adorable romance ever, while at the same time still dealing with some heavier topics such as emotional abuse and gaslighting.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

When Juliet’s mom passes away, Juliet takes up the habit of writing her letters and leaving them at her grave. Until one day Declan, who is doing community service at the cemetery and battling demons of his own, picks up one of the letters and answers it. The two end up bonding over their shared grief and it is both a heartbreaking and heartwarming read.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

I know, how can a Cinderella-retelling have a pen pal romance? Well, it can in this geeky, modern-day retelling when Elle gets an accidental text (meant for her father, creator of the ExcelsiCon convention) and ends up texting with the sender and bonding about their shared love of sci-fi series Starfield. Little does Elle know she’s actually texting with the actor playing her beloved prince in the series – an actor Elle is not a fan of herself. Or is she?

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata
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Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
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Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
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Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

When Ruby Santos signs up to write a soldier overseas, she thinks she knows what she’s getting herself into. But when she’s assigned to Aaron, the two strike up a friendship though their letters neither of them have had before. A friendship that blossoms into something more over the months they write each other. This story was the sweetest – it’s a big slow-burn that’s told only through letters and texts for the first 60% or so of the book, but trust me when I say that the slow-burn is worth the wait.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

This book is slightly different from the others, in that the two characters have briefly met before they start their pen pal relationship (in this case, by texting). Penny just started college and meets Sam through her roommate. When she finds Sam having a panic attack a bit later and helps him out, they share numbers and become each other’s ’emergency contact’. They start texting and help each other deal with all their issues, which makes them build a friendship and more, all through texts.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

The final book on this list is also slighty different from the rest of these, but this time because the two main characters don’t actually communicate with each other. Lincoln is an internet security officer, which basically means he spends all day reading and checking the emails people in his company send to each other. Which is how he starts reading the mails Beth and Jennifer send each other in which they discuss their personal lives. And before he knows it, he’s invested in their stories and falling for Beth. But how to even begin telling her that? It sounds a little creepy, but Lincoln really is the sweetest and this story was just charming and funny.

Tell Me:
Do you like pen pal romances?
Have you read any of these? Any other suggestions for me?


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32 Comments

  1. LOVE THIS TOPIC, Lindsey! I too am a bit softie/fan of the pen pal trope. It’s old-fashioned, and charming, and swoony, and all the good romance-y things! Kasie West books are forever a win; and someday I still need to read “Tell me Three Things.” Oh! And I have “The Flate Share,” too! “Dear Aaron” also sounds wonderful. *makes note to add to TBR*
    Rissi JC recently posted…‘All Made Up’: Unexpected Reunion Romance Gets a Happy EndMy Profile

    1. Ah thanks Rissi! You’re right, pen pal romances definitely consist of all the good romance-y things 🙂 Kasie West is definitely a win, I need to catch up on her books urgently! Hope you’ll enjoy these books when you get to them.

  2. Tell Me Three Things looks so good and I wanted to read that one. I still need to get it. Pen pal romances are fun. Attachments is another one I need to get!
    Greg recently posted…Tuesday Tagline #151My Profile

    1. Pen pal romances definitely are fun 🙂 Hope you enjoy Tell Me Three Things and Attachments when you get to them!

  3. Great topic. Simon is of course great. Geekerella and Emergency Contact both sounds really good!
    Annemieke recently posted…First Lines in Books That Caught Me / Part 1 / #toptentuesday 199My Profile

    1. Simon will always be one of my top favorites, I’ve re-read it like 3 times already and it never gets old 🙂

  4. Pen Pal books!!! Such a great idea!!! I loved LETTERS TO THE LOST! I didn’t realize GEEKERELLA was a texting book!! I love that. Also, I’m sad that I haven’t read ATTACHMENTS yet. I love Rainbow so much– I’m a bad fan 🙁

    1. Letters To The Lost was such an amazing read! And yeah, I didn’t know that about Geekerella either, it’s not really mentioned anywhere on the blurb or anything, but I was happy when I discovered the texting 🙂 Ahh don’t worry, I love Rainbow too but haven’t read all of her books yet either…

  5. Dear Aaron does sound interesting.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.
    Astilbe recently posted…Melt by J Lea LopezMy Profile

    1. It is definitely interesting if you love a slow-burn pen pal romance 🙂

  6. I had no idea there were so many books out there that featured pen pal romances!
    Lydia recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: LGBT+ Books I Want to ReadMy Profile

    1. Yes it’s definitely not an often-used trope, but they are out there 🙂

  7. I really loved «Attachments» by Rainbow Rowell, it was so cute (and a little creepy) ahaha

    1. Haha yeah it was just a tad creepy, but mostly cute 😉

  8. I actually finished The Flatshare last night and loved it. It’s not my usual read but it was really good and wasn’t as fluffy as I thought it would be. I liked Tiffy and Leon even if her name drove me crazy the entire book. I can see why it’s probably your favorite. I enjoyed Attachments as well.

    1. Ah yay I’m so glad you enjoyed The Flatshare! I agree, I liked that it was cute, but also not that fluffy. And haha yeah Tiffy is a weird name 🙂

  9. Oh my gosh I adored Attachments. It was actually really cute though haha. And this is such a great topic. I’m also long overdue for Geekerella and PS I Still Like You. Need to get those books already.

    – Chai @ Like Chai Tea // My TTT

    Chai @ Like Chai Tea recently posted…Romance Book Tag… Because I Love LOVEMy Profile

    1. Attachments definitely was cute 🙂 I so hope you’ll enjoy Geekerella and PS I Still Like You when you get to them!!

  10. Nice list. I love epistolary novels–I’ve done many posts on them. Letters, e-mails, diaries, it’s all good and all fun.

    1. They really are the best, I can’t get enough 🙂

  11. I love this idea! Such a creative take for today’s freebie prompt. I’ve been having Simon and The Flatshare on my TBR for a while now, and hopefully, I can tackle both of them really soon!

    1. Thanks! I hope you’ll enjoy both Simon and The Flatshare when you get to them (definitely two of my faves 🙂 )

  12. I love this list a LOT. Half of them are on my TBR, Attachments is one of my favorite books ever, and Dear Aaron is going to join the TBR pile. I also have one of my own to recommend: We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen.

    1. Attachments is soo good, I’m in dire need of a re-read 🙂 I hope you enjoy Dear Aaron when you get to it! And I just went and added We Are Still Tornadoes to my TBR, so thanks for the rec!

  13. I think the only one I’ve read is Letters to the Lost, but The Flatshare is on my TBR and I’m really looking forward to it!

    1. I hope you’ll enjoy The Flatshare, I absolutely loved that one 🙂

  14. I love this! I need to read more books that have pen pal romances. I’ve always been in love with the idea of having a pen pal. I remember when I was still active on Tumblr and I was doing an rpg with someone and our characters were pen pals. It was great. I love these recommendations!
    Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn Reads recently posted…[Tag] Who Am I Book TagMy Profile

    1. That’s great that you had a pen pal character! They are great, I can’t get enough of pen pal romances 🙂

  15. I love so many of the books on your list that I clearly need to add all of the rest of them to my TBR. The Flatshare is one I keep hearing great things about.

    1. Oh I LOVE The Flatshare! Hope you’ll enjoy it as well when you pick it up!

  16. OH MY GOSH, YES. Slay me with this weeks topic choice?? Good pick. Even moreso, I am in shock at how few pen pal romances I’ve read in my lifetime. Out of all of these, I’ve only read Emergency Contact and looking back I’m not sure if there’s any others that could be categorized as such. WHICH IS SO WEIRD because at the same time it feels like it *should* be or *could* be such a common trope and I don’t know why that’s tripping me out but here we are??? (Sorry for babbling. I swear I’m not having a pen pal romance crisis in your comments. Okay, fine, maybe I am, and maybe that’s a sign that I need more sleep.)
    Jessica at Booked J recently posted…Guest Post: Children’s Illustrator Samantha Holm on the Importance of Art in Storytelling and What Inspires Her ArtisticallyMy Profile

    1. Haha no worries, I totally understand a good old pen pal romance crisis 😉 You’re right, there SHOULD be many more pen pal romances out there. I mean, what’s not to love? They are amazing!

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