The Official Romance MFA Reading List

Creative Writing MFA programs are numerous, but tracks for popular fiction, let alone romance, are few. The Romance MFA student will read a broad cross section of popular romance. Having read the books on the Romance MFA’s Romance Reading List, the prospective litterateur should begin to understand the history of the romance novel, be able to trace the development of major genre tropes, and have a sense of comps in their intended genre.

Meeting & Discussion

MFA students are invited to follow the Romance MFA blog and discuss readings from this syllabus, or other related topics in the comments, or on social media. Join the discussion on Twitter with #RomMFA or tag @RomMFA, or follow the Romance MFA on Facebook.

Romance Reading List

Precursors and Early Romances


Mid-Twentieth Century Love Stories




Bodice Rippers


American-Set Historical Romances


Genre and Craft


About this reading list

Wait, this is missing—Yes, yes it is missing. This romance reading list is a distillation of 272 (and counting) entries in a spreadsheet. The astute reader will note the absence of the following genres: Contemporary, Gothic, Paranormal, Highlanders, Victorian, Pirates, Time Travel, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Steampunk, Westerns, Erotica (classic and contemporary!), and much, much more. This is a beginning syllabus with broad categories, but it does cater to my interest in historical romance. Additional secondary sources will be added as I read each category. Shortlists for additional genres may be forthcoming, but extant information is also easier to find online than the broad genre overview here. Aspiring authors should replace the “American-Set Historical Romance” category with comps in their chosen subgenre.


About the Romance MFA Coordinator

Bonnie Loshbaugh is an indie author who enjoys research almost as much as writing. She has big plans to write romance, but in the meantime you can find her non-romance work at or chat with her on Twitter @bloshb.