Book List

Books That Depict Modern Dating Culture

April 3, 2020
Jenny Lu

Dating has never been easy in any era. And while these days we may not have dowries or (as many) oppressive gender roles to worry about, modern dating is an entirely new arena with its own special hurdles and obstacles. Read these modern love stories that tackle the problems of modern dating to remind us that it IS possible to find your soulmate (or maybe just your self-partner?) in these modern times.

Books That Depict Modern Dating Culture

1. What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter – Meeting Online

Once upon a time, people could only meet each other at school or in an adorable clumsy meet-cute—these days you could meet someone while sitting in your room, staring at your computer. You can make an entire community online, which What I Like About You’s protagonist, Book Blogger Kels, knows too well. Kels talks about everything with her online best friend Nash—except the fact that she isn’t Kels, she’s Halle. But when Halle moves to her Gramps’ small town to finish off high school, she finds herself face-to-face with the real-life Nash. And as she begins to fall for him, it becomes all too clear… he’s in love with Kels.


2. Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi – Texting

Waiting months for a letter from your lover abroad sounds hard, we agree, but you know what’s also hard? Trying to get to know someone over text! Mary H.K. Choi’s Emergency Contact brings to the page the type of modern young love story we can all understand (or at least dream of!)—two people who swap numbers and become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams over text.


3. Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash – Dating Apps

Modern Dating doesn’t need matchmakers or meet-cutes, we have algorithm-optimized matching through dating apps! In Virtually Yours, NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian hasn’t dated anyone since her high school sweetheart Caleb broke her heart. So, she decides to try out a new virtual reality dating service. But what happens when the dating app chooses none other than Caleb himself as one of her three matches? And her other match, happens to be her new IRL best friend, Jeremy…


4. Road Tripped by Pete Hautman – Ghosting

Maybe there are no happily ever afters with the modern dating trend of ~ghosting~, but sometimes it may just turn out for the best. In Pete Hautman’s Road Tripped, Stiggy’s sort-of-girlfriend ghosts him, and the rest of his life is a mess. So, he decides he has nothing left to stick around in Minnesota for, and drives out of town. Except life on his own isn’t exactly what he expected, and soon Stiggy finds himself at a crossroads: keep running from his demons, or let them hitch a ride back home with him. Maybe Stiggy won’t find an HEA by ghosting his entire life, but perhaps he’ll find himself.


5. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett – Catfishing

The charades of catfishing are usually cast in a negative light in modern dating, but in Alex, Approximately a case of un-intentional mistaken identity may lead to true love… Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” When Bailey moves to the same town as her online crush, she worries that their romance won’t last in real life, and so she keeps her new hometown to herself. But as Bailey grows closer to her irritatingly hot work-nemesis Porter Roth, Bailey finds herself torn. Porter, however, has a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.


6. Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi – Long Distance Relationship

The dreaded Long Distance Relationship is not exclusive to modern dating, but modern technology has truly changed the LDR game. When you can call, text, video chat, snapchat, IM, DM, tag, like, share with your significant other, what difference does it make that you live thousands of miles apart? Permanent Record’s star-crossed protagonists can tell you, modern technology can’t necessarily bridge the distance. When college dropout Pablo and international pop icon Leanna meet at 5:00AM at a bodega, they’re skeptical that this chance encounter will amount to anything. Still, they find themselves turning to each other again and again. But worlds apart both geographically and in every other possible way—things get complicated.


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