If You Love Leslie & Ben's Relationship On 'Parks & Recreation,' Read These 11 Books
While, to me, the true take-away of Parks & Recreation will always be the power of friendship — specifically female friendship — to change lives, I can't deny that the show also featured some extra special romantic relationships, too. From Andy and April to Donna and Joe, the romances on Parks & Rec proved that the adage "opposites attract" is often very real, and that true love is less about finding any sort of perfection in a partner and more about finding someone who accepts and celebrates you, flaws and all. That is certainly true for the show's main couple, Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt.
Ben and Leslie do not get along at all at first. He's in Pawnee to cut the city's budget, and do-gooder Leslie is determined to do everything she can to save the Parks Department. Though it becomes clear pretty early on that Leslie and Ben won't be sworn enemies forever, there is at least a season's worth of animosity between the two... which leads to sexual tension, which leads to a forbidden romance, which leads to love, which leads to marriage. If you're a forever fan of the couple and want to read more books with these same vibes, I've got 11 perfect picks below.
'The Hating Game' by Sally Thorne
It's easy to forget that Leslie and Ben were once co-workers who hated each other's guts, but it was certainly an entertaining start to their love story. You'll get the same enemies-to-lovers office romance in The Hating Game, which follows Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman as they battle it out amidst some serious romantic tension.
'Geekerella' by Ashley Poston
Although Leslie is more of a Harry Potter girl, and Ben is all about Game of Thrones, they share an undeniably geeky sensibility. In Geekerella, Elle Wittimer and Darren Freeman both love the classic science-fiction series Starfield... and the fandom is about to bring them together in very unexpected ways.
'Can You Keep A Secret?' by Sophie Kinsella
When Leslie and Ben finally got together, they had to keep their relationship a secret, since Ben was Leslie's boss. That dynamic also plays out in Can You Keep A Secret?, which follows Emma Corrigan after she unwittingly spills personal secrets to — and makes a romantic connection with — Jack Harper, the CEO of the company where she works.
'When Dimple Met Rishi' by Sandhya Menon
When Leslie and Ben worked together on The Harvest Festival, it changed their relationship forever. Catch those same feels in When Dimple Met Rishi, which opens when Rishi (the boy Dimple's parents want her to marry) shows up at Dimple's summer coding camp. She is dead set against having anything to do with him, but when they are paired together on a project, she begins to see him in a different light.
'Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win' by Jo Piazza
Both Leslie and Ben run for office in Parks & Recreation, and while they are undeniably supportive of one another, the show does explore many of the difficulties of navigating a political campaign as both a woman and as part of a couple. If you find this aspect of their relationship fascinating, you'll love Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win.
'The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You' by Lily Anderson
A nerdy take on the enemies-to-lovers romance, The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You combines a few aspects of Ben and Leslie's courtship. Trix and Ben can’t stand each other, but when a cheating scandal breaks out in their gifted and talented high school, threatening Trix’s best friend’s reputation, Trix and Ben reluctantly work together to discover the truth.
'Unmarrigeable' by Soniah Kamal
It's not always smooth sailing for Leslie and Ben — and it wasn't easy for Elizabeth and Darcy, either. In Unmarriageable, a modern retelling of Jane Austen's most famous novel, Alys Binat and Mr. Darsee fall in love, despite their pride and their prejudices.
'Stay Sweet' by Siobhan Vivian
There are lot of elements of Ben and Leslie's early relationship in Stay Sweet's Grady and Amelia. Amelia is the head-girl at the local ice cream stand. Grady is the late-owner's nephew who shows up with some grand ideas about how to make things better. As the two battle over the stand, they form an unexpected connection.
'Girl Out Of Water' by Laura Silverman
A big part of what brought Ben and Leslie together was their friend group. Ben didn't want to live in Pawnee at first, and he was reluctant to make connections. But Leslie and the gang soon encouraged him to see the perks of true love and friendship. This is also in the case in Girl Out Of Water, when Anise reluctantly moves to Nebraska... and meets Lincoln.
'The Upside of Unrequited' by Becky Albertalli
It's no secret that Leslie had a bit of a hard time dating before Ben came along, so she would definitely relate to Molly in The Upside of Unrequited. There are additional elements of the Ben/Lesie romance here with Molly and Reid, too: The teens are co-workers, Reid is a massive Tolkien fanatic, and there is a delicious "will-they-won't-they" element to their very sweet romance.
'Dating You/Hating You' by Christina Lauren
When Carter and Evie's agencies merge, they must vie for the same position. Although Ben and Leslie never fought for the same job, their early workplace drama is definitely replicated in Dating You/Hating You.