The '90s are back, y'all, and have been for a while. From claw clips and low-rise jeans (a trend that could have seriously stayed in the archives) to middle parts and slip dresses, the era of 1990 has officially made a comeback. Also having a bit of a renaissance are the '90s TV shows and movies that raised us. We went from watching reruns to reboots of Boy Meets World, Full House, and The Babysitters Club. Meanwhile, films like Hocus Pocus, She's All That, and The Powerpuff Girls have gotten sequels and the reboot treatment as well. But the '90s cult classics aren't only getting modern spin-offs on the big screen; they're being reimagined in books, too.
The '90s was a breeding ground for rom-com tropes such as enemies-to-lovers, the boy/girl next door, the ugly duckling type, and so much more. Many of these underlying themes can be found in today's most talked about books and, in some more refreshing cases, are gender-flipped (exhibit A: He's All That).
It may be 2023, but the '90s are still very much a part of our everyday lives. Do you and your bestie have The Parent Trap handshake memorized? Is your vocabulary inundated with Cherisims? Whether you're craving a novel rooted in an internet romance à la You've Got Mail or a coming-of-age fixer-upper like She's All That, this list of books like popular '90s rom-coms is totally buggin.'
In the words of Vivian Ward, ignoring these books would be a big mistake. Huge!
If You Love You’ve Got Mail, Read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Joe and Kathleen walked so Lincoln and Beth could run. In this delightful office romp, a newsroom IT guy develops a crush on a reporter after being given the task of monitoring the company’s email platform — subsequently leading him straight into Beth Fremont’s inbox. How do you ask out your coworker when you know every minuscule thing there is to know about them, yet they don’t know one morsel about you?!
If You Love The Parent Trap, Read The Beach Trap by Ali Brady
Stow away your camp things; we’re headed to the beach! Oh, and your best friend? Yeah, she’s actually your half-sister. Unlike Hallie and Annie, Kat and Blake aren’t exactly jumping for joy at their joint family’s bombshell news. The pair go the next 15 years without speaking to one another until the reading of their late father’s will brings them back together. It turns out that their dad signed over the deed to the family beach house to both Kat and Blake. Enter: a healthy dose of sisterly competition (and bickering), sunkissed skin, ocean hair, and a summer fling… or two.
If You Love Pretty Woman, Read The Kissing Quotient by Helen Hoang
Bookworms may be surprised to learn that Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s iconic ‘90s rom-com Pretty Woman, about a rich businessman who falls in love with a sex worker, inspired author Helen Hoang’s debut novel, The Kissing Quotient. “I’m really drawn to anything that’s thought of as taboo or bad because I always feel there’s a compelling reason behind these things, and I always want to see if you were in this person’s shoes, would you feel it was wrong?” Hoang told EW of her inspiration. “I liked the idea of a woman being successful and loving her career, and a hero as a prostitute with a heart of gold. I thought that would be really interesting to write, so that’s where that came from.”
If You Love Never Been Kissed, Read The Do-Over by Suzanne Park
Lily Lee could use a bit of advice from Josie Geller. An employer’s background check revealed that, unbeknownst to Lily, she never actually took enough college credits to fulfill her degree. In other words, she’s headed back to campus as a 30-something-year-old. The only thing that could make matters worse is if the hot TA turned out to be her college ex. Oh, wait…
If You Love Notting Hill, Read Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
Novelist Annabel Monaghan is flipping the script. In this fictional reimagination of 1999’s Notting Hill, a sexy, down-on-his-luck actor (à la Julia Roberts) falls head over heels in love with a single mother of two (à la Hugh Grant) after a work gig lands him in Nora’s house. Similar to Will and Anna, Nora and Leo will have to decide if their love can go the distance despite their drastically different lives.
If You Love She’s All That, Read The Girl Least Likely by Katy Loutzenhiser
Nerdy outcast Gretchen is the queen of least likelies, but a series of happenstances leads her to become the school’s it girl. Closet makeover? Check. Catch the attention of the school’s bad boy? Check, check. Become the school’s new queen bee? Check, check, and check. The only thing not on Gretchen’s to-do list? Falling for her childhood best friend.
If You Love Clueless, Read Emma by Jane Austen
It’s no secret that Clueless is a modern-day take on Jane Austen’s Emma. Like her predecessor, Cher Horowitz lives in her own little rich bubble along with her father, designer wardrobe, and her 1994 Jeep Wrangler. Both Emma and Cher have had seemingly easy lives. That is until they decide to dabble in the world of matchmaking, a hobby they soon realize they have no business meddling in.
If You Love 10 Things I Hate About You, Read The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel
After escaping her parents’ latest marriage setup, Liya is horrified to learn that her company’s new hire is Jay Shah, the same man who was sitting at her family’s dinner table the week prior. Liya and Jay are enemies out of circumstance — but late nights at the office lead to a new relationship rooted in vulnerability and candidness that neither one of them saw coming.