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Whether you’re team Valentine’s Day or not, romance novels are a mainstay in the book world. Romance and erotica are the top-selling genre in the marketplace, raking in more than a quarter of consumer revenue.
So what were romance readers — both those who are devoted to the genre, as well as those just discovering it — picking up last year? Amazon broke down the numbers via their unique Amazon Charts tool and looked at the top selling and most read romance books across their site from January to December 2020.
The 20 Top Romance Books on Amazon in 2020
Note that these titles reflect Amazon’s categorization of romance, which may not be as precise as how romance readers define the genre. It also showcases both new books and backlist titles.
· The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
· The Return by Nicholas Sparks
· 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
· The Dare by Lauren Landish
· The Duke and I (Bridgertons Book 1) by Julia Quinn
· Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
· The Restaurant by Pamela M. Kelley
· Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
· Temptation (The Hunted Series Book 1) by Ivy Smoak
· By A Thread by Lucy Score
· The Hunter (Boston Belles) by L.J. Shen
· Devious Lies by Parker S. Huntington
· From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
· The Stopover (The Miles High Club) by T L Swan
· Beach Read by Emily Henry
· Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills
· Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
· Virgin River by Robyn Carr
· Protecting What’s Mine: A Small Town Love Story by Lucy Score
· Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon
The vast majority of the books topping the list are written by white women, with one by a white male author, and one by an author who nonbinary. This was reflected in the books as well — 19 of the 20 top titles were straight romances, while a single title was a queer romance.
Two authors on the list, Parker S. Huntington and Diana Gabaldon, are people of color.
It likewise comes as no surprise to see the books from which popular adaptations were made at the top of the charts. Readers were eager to dive into the Bridgerton novels, as well as continued to pick up Outlander.
What Were Readers Highlighting?
Curious what lines and passages were capturing the attention of readers? Here’s a look at the books and lines that romance readers wanted to note — perhaps a way to encourage those who haven’t picked up one of these titles yet to consider.
“Maybe just to know that something this beautiful exists is all we can really ask for.”
—The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
“Life endlessly offers us chances to set new directions and in the process we grow and change; when we look in the rearview mirror, we catch a glimpse of former selves who sometimes seem unrecognizable.”
—The Return by Nicholas Sparks
“And the worst thing about being young is not being able to appreciate that you’re young because you aren’t old enough to know any better.”
—28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
“You Only Live Once. It’s basically my motto. Live big, live loud, and with no regrets. Or at least if you have regrets, make it for things you’ve done, not for things you didn’t have the balls to do.”
—The Dare by Lauren Landish
“The Duke of Hastings. Daphne decided then and there that she’d be a fool if she didn’t fall in love with him.”
—The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
“For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary. It is all. It is undying. And it is enough.”
—Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
“Attraction isn’t something that only happens once, with one person. It’s part of what drives humans. Our attraction to each other, to art, to food, to entertainment. Attraction is fun. So when you decide to commit to someone, you aren’t saying, ‘I promise I’ll never be attracted to anyone else.’ You’re saying, ‘I promise to commit to you, despite my potential future attraction to other people.’”
—Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
“Should I tell you that when we’re apart, your body comes back to me in dreams? That when I sleep, I see you, the dip of your waist, the freckle above your hip, and when I wake up in the morning, it feels like I’ve just been with you, the phantom touch of your hand on the back of my neck fresh and not imagined? That I can feel your skin against mine, and it makes every bone in my body ache? That, for a few moments, I can hold my breath and be back there with you, in a dream, in a thousand rooms, nowhere at all?”
—Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
“When the world felt dark and scary, love could whisk you off to go dancing; laughter could take some of the pain away; beauty could punch holes in your fear.”
—Beach Read by Emily Henry