It is a truth universally acknowledged that reading is hot. Always has been, and always will be. Yet in recent years, the act of reading has not merely become hotter, rather, an entirely new magical subgenre of books has appeared: hot girl fiction.

How to explain this TikTok-driven, it-girl-built literary phenomenon? Typically, it’s a feeling; after all, being a hot girl is a state of mind. There’s no one quality which makes a book hot, it just is. But if you’re struggling to understand the premise, hot girl fiction does have a few distinguishing characteristics. Usually, the focus is on young women navigating life, love, and loss in some big city. These women are sharp, intellectually aware, and (probably) sad. Though usually, these protagonists are conventionally attractive, they are in no doubt, complex. Spikey, angry at the world (but mainly at men), and oftentimes selfish, these women are flawed. And that’s what makes them so great; they’re real. Be gone the ‘not like other girls’ archetype, the woman so blatantly written by the man – hot girl fiction has entered the literary arena, and it’s here to stay.

With this week marking the hottest student magazines’ (I can only be talking about BathTime, of course) final online articles, I thought I’d recommend some hot girl fiction to satiate your appetite! There’s no doubt these books will definitely leave you feeling like a hot girl. So, go forth and read your books, and let your hot girl literary journey commence.

1) Happy Hour – Marlowe Granados

This book is everywhere and for good reason. It’s the epitome of hot girl fiction. Granados’ debut follows two best friends who move to New York for the summer. During the day they’re grinding, struggling to make ends meet in a city where they have a few dollars to their name. The night, however, is when this story and our characters really come alive. Where the girls use their cultural capital, their pretty privilege, and their blinding intelligence to break into New York’s elite. These characters are cunning, selfish, and comically pretentious, but if there’s one thing they’re not, it’s boring. Indulgent, sharp, and unapologetically feminine; Granados makes so many astute observations about what it is to be a young woman. It’s very much no plot, just vibes; hot girls having a good time in the city. As Granados puts it, “my mother always told me that to be a girl one must be especially clever.” And she’s right; if you’re looking for a fun read, you really would be clever to pick this one up. 

2) Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney

How could I do an article on hot girl fiction and not include the blueprint and original hot girl: Miss Sally Rooney? Anyone who knows me, knows I am Rooney’s biggest fan; to me, she is the founding mother of hot girl fiction. Honestly, I could recommend any one of her books here, but I’ll try to restrain myself. Conversations With Friends follows two friends (naturally!) who get involved with a wealthier, older couple. What ensues is a complicated web of relationships, emotions, and desires, and it is utterly compelling. Rooney offers a masterclass in social commentary, delving into the tangled and problematic power dynamics which characterise these flawed relationships. Nuanced reflections on age, gender, and class, coupled with flailing, unsuccessful sad girls? This book has everything and will stay with you long after the final page.

3) Cleopatra and Frankenstein – Coco Mellors

This is the book that actually inspired this article, I read it recently and was blown away!! Though by no means a romance, this book follows the love story between Cleo and Frank. Cleo, an art student, meets Frank, a mid-40s marketing executive and spontaneously they marry. The course of the book follows how this one decision sends their lives, and their friends’ lives, into orbit; effectively, it destroys them. This book has a myriad of characters, all providing a unique perspective on Cleo and Frank’s relationship, and crucially, all struggling with their own challenges. It’s so rare to read something with such fully fleshed, complex side characters, but, somehow, Mellors does it. This is a book of self-awareness; mental health; addiction; love; lust; friendship, but ultimately, it’s a tale of self-discovery. Very much written in Rooney’s hot girl style, read this if you’re craving a coming-of-age; a story of flawed, socially aware, young people figuring shit out.  

4) Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

Bit of a different one here; this is a memoir. Usually, I stray towards fiction but if you’re looking to get into memoirs this is the one to start with! Everything I Know About Love explores Alderton’s experiences with love, friendships, careers and growing up in her twenties. It’s both heart-warming and charming; a collection of personal anecdotes that feel like a conversation with a big sister, like advice in the form of a warm hug. Alderton’s recounts of her dating history are hilarious, I’m talking laugh-out-loud funny, and make essential reading for any young woman. The best part of this book, though, is Alderton’s championing of platonic love, giving it the attention it so desperately lacks. Her portrayal of female friendships is the most real I’ve read, it’s genuinely touching. “Nearly everything I know about love, I’ve learnt from my long-term friendships with women.” Really, what could be hotter than that?

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