Books I’d give to people who’ve never read contemporary YA


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week there’s a different Top Ten list. It’s a great way to find and connect with other awesome bloggers.


Contemporary YA is my favourite genre.

If you didn’t know that already, you know now. It’s my favourite genre to read, but it’s also my favourite genre to write. Out of the 4 and a half books I’ve written, 4 have been contemporary YA (the half is Wanderland, which is my Alice in Wonderland retelling).

So basically I’m an expert on the genre.

Because I have important books to recommend. I’ll wait as you go borrow them from your nearest library. Or buy them. Both?

These are books that I recommend for a variety of reasons: because they’re influential to YA as a whole, because they’re insanely popular, because I love them, because I think they have important things to say.

speak tfios aristotle and dante

1) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

This one has been HUGELY influential to YA, even inspiring a whole imprint. I liked Wintergirls better, honestly, but I think it’s still a book people should read.

2) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I expect you’re tired of hearing about it by now, but I cannot even quantify how much I love this book.

3) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

My favourite book of this year so far. If you like dialogue and diversity and friendship you should definitely read this.

perks every day part time indian

4) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I actually didn’t like this book the first time I read it, mostly because of the narrator. If you don’t normally read contemporary YA, I wouldn’t necessarily start with this one, but it is truly an amazing book.

5) Every Day by David Levithan

One of the most intriguing things I found with this book was the concept of gender, and how the main character, A, wasn’t female  or male – instead, A was a different person each day. This influenced A’s relationship with a girl within the novel, and it was such a thought-provoking read.

6) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

This is one of the most banned books, I think. I don’t see why. You should read it just to spite those book banning people (also, it has amazing voice and is very funny).

we were liars proper anna and the french kiss it's kind of a funny story

7) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Okay, yeah, I wasn’t in love with this book, but it’s so DIFFERENT, and if your new to contemporary, you just might fall in love with it.

8) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Speaking of falling in love…this is great if you’re sceptical about contemporary romance – like I was. Also, just over a week until Isla comes out!!!! *FREAKS OUT MAJORLY*

9) It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

I can never stop recommending this book, because it’s one of my favourite in…ever. It is quite funny in some ways, but it says a lot about mental illness that’s also really great.

I discovered contemporary YA with The Princess Diaries, but only really got into it after reading Looking for Alaska by John Green. Contemporary YA is such a broad genre – it can be dark and edgy, or cute and fluffy, and it’s always about the characters. That’s one of the reasons I love it so much. If you haven’t read much YA contemporary, these are definitely ones I’d recommend starting with.


Do you like YA contemporary? Which books do you recommend that I should read in the genre?


33 thoughts on “Books I’d give to people who’ve never read contemporary YA

    • Contemporary YA is a sub-genre of YA (young adult) which focuses on realistic stories – set in high school, usually, although not always. The Fault in Our Stars is about two teens with cancer and how they deal with knowing they’re going to die. Which sounds sad (and it is) but it is AMAZING.

  1. *bows to the Queen of Contemporary* I do also like how you’ve recommended books you didn’t necessarily like. You’re very balanced. x) Me? I’m very biased. Ahhhh, I don’t know exactly how I want to do this prompt yet. I’M STILL THINKING. But yes yes yes to your recs. I’ve read 6 out of your 9. Why did you just do 9?!! I’M CURIOUS. I absolutely agree with Ari & Dante, Perks and TFIOS. I want to read Speak. Or Wintergirls actually. I do like contemporary, buuuut, to be honest, it’s the fantastical stuff I go for first. XD (Although, funnily enough, contemporary is probably the biggest genre I read.)

    • Why yes, that IS me. *accepts crown* Haha it was a difficult one, because what do you recommend to someone who’s never read the genre? Oooh 6 out of 9 is a very good score, I approve. I do 9 because it works in sets of 3’s quite well. Occasionally I do 2, 4, 2, 4, but I was too lazy this time haha. Also, I am well aware you like the fantastical stuff, buuuuuuut contemporary is awesome, yes? Yes, of course it is 😛

  2. I had the same issue with Perks of Being a Wallflower. I read it because it sounded interesting from what my friends told me, and I didn’t want to see the movie before I read the book. After I read it I found it odd that it was so popular with my friends, I was unable to connect with the narrator. I haven’t read it more than once though, and maybe that’s what I need.

    We Were Liars sounds really interesting (or at least the title does). What is it about?

    • The narrator was the issue I have – he sounded SO young, like unrealistically naive or something, and I didn’t like him at all. Not sure what changed on the second reading but now it’s one of my favourites 🙂 We Were Liars is about…well, it’s hard to say much, but basically it’s about four teenagers on an island, and rich people, and a horrible accident that the main character can’t remember. It’s very interesting, even if I wasn’t the biggest fan 🙂

  3. I have a couple contemporary book ideas, but I don’t usually read contemporary, so I think I should try some of these out. I definitely don’t want anything too dark, edgy or romantic. I already read We Were Liars, so that’s off the list. I’ll probably read Speak or It’s Kind of a Funny Story, because I’ve wanted to read those for awhile anyway. Also, I read Fever, which is also by Laurie Halse Anderson, and I loved it! Hopefully I’ll like Speak just as much.

    • Edgy books are ones I try to steer away from too, although some are very thought-provoking. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is amaaaazing, and Speak is also quite excellent. Anna and the French Kiss is good if you don’t want something too serious 🙂

  4. I have read most of these books and I’ve really enjoyed them too! Great picks! I haven’t read Aristotle and Dante yet, but I’ll have to pick it up soon seeing how many people love it.

  5. Great list! I am currently reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson! I’ve read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in Our Stars, Anna and the French Kiss, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I didn’t like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I did at first and them I found it incredibly boring. I love The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in Our Stars, and Anna and the French Kiss. I really want to read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I’ve heard nothing but good things, but my library doesn’t own it and I don’t have money to buy books. I also plan on reading We Were Liars, Every Day, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story, but I just haven’t yet.

    • Oooh, great timing! I can’t really remember what I thought about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, except that it was funny. Also that it was banned, so of course I had to read it 🙂 I also love TFIOS, Perks and Anna (wow, lazy me not writing their full titles). You should definitely coerce your librarian into buying Aristotle and Dante – it’s definitely worth it 🙂

      • Haha of course! I think books buying banned make me want to read it more. I think I will probably end up Aristotle and Dante since that cover is just so gorgeous and I’ve heard it’s great.

  6. Contemporary isn’t my favourite genre, but it’s definitely one I enjoy a lot. 🙂 I’ve read 6 of these so far, and 4 of them are on my TTT list today. 🙂 I really need to read Speak, Every Day and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – I’m glad to see that you’d recommend them. 🙂

  7. I was not a fan of Perks. I don’t know if I’d have the bravery to go back and read it again. Aristotle and Dante is a new one for me…I’ll have to look into that one. And this may be my new favorite GIF. I laughed…this time literally out loud.

  8. Fabulous list! I have read many of them. I have Aristotle and Dante but haven’t picked it up. I’m glad that you enjoyed it so much. I wasn’t this biggest fan of Perks, but I do agree that it’s a good read. I think everyone should at least attempt to read it.

  9. I’ve read six of these!!! Yayayayayay. And coincidentally, I just finished reading Anna and the French Kiss today! Why didn’t you like We Were Liars? Is it because of the ending? I didn’t like that too much either -_-

    • WELL DONE YOU! And me for recommending awesome books. *pats self on back* As for We Were Liars, it was mostly the characters? Like I didn’t relate to them. Also, though the ending surprised me I just didn’t care that much, to be honest, again because I felt no connection to the story. A shame.

  10. I have been going through a HUGE contemporary YA phase at the moment and have been reading more of it than I have been in a while (I usually tend to read a couple of books at a time from different YA genres). I can’t say that I really loved ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, but I might give it another go one day. Anna and the French Kiss/Every Day/We Were Liars were all awesome reads for me and I’ll definitely be checking out the others on this list!

    • EXCELLENT. Also, it’s not a phase. You’re stuck with the contemp YA bug for LIFE now. 🙂 It’s okay. We’re an awesome cult…um, community. A lot of people say that about Perks…I guess there are books that resonate with some people but not others, which is totally fine and expected. Oh, I think you’re the first person who’s mentioned Every Day! It’s good, isn’t it? David Levithan is kind of hit or miss for me, but I loved that one.

  11. 1. I still haven’t read this one, but hopefully I will soon!
    2. I actually liked the TFIOS movie much better than the book. With the book, I shed a few tears, and my face was practically a waterfall during the movie!
    3. Eeeep I need to read this one! I can’t count how many times it’s been recommended to me.
    4. Perks was a DNF for me. 😦 Maybe I should try it again? Anyway, I loved the movie because LOGAN LERMAN.
    7. Another DNF. I should start feeling guilty about DNFing.
    8. YES YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES! I just love Etienne! ❤ So excited for Isla!

    Awesome list, Emily! (Give me your contemporary novels–I must read them! *grabby hands*)

    • *cries because people keep saying that about Perks* I’m not even sure what happened to make me love it in the end. Something in my brain switched or something. But yes, the movie is AMAZING. One of my favourite adaptations 🙂 You DNF’d We Were Liars? Actually, I’m not surprised, to be honest. If so many bloggers hadn’t told me the ending was so amazing, I wouldn’t have really wanted to continue reading. YAY FOR ANNA AND ETIENNE. NINE DAYS UNTIL ISLA WOOOOOOO.

      Haha, one day I hope I will publish one of my novels and EVERYONE will read them. *evil cackle*

  12. Contemporary, yay! I enjoy reading contemporary a lot more now than I did, say, a year ago or something. I have no idea why that is. I think I’ve just become a lot more open-minded with it comes to books. 🙂 I would seriously recommend John Green to anyone whose never read contemporary — that used to be me. Then I read LOOKING FOR ALASKA and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, and BAM, I fell in love with his writing. Haven’t read SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson (yet) but I must check that one out. I enjoyed the Impossible Knife of Memory, so I’d probably like her other books, too. Interesting what you said about Perks — I unfortunately didn’t like the book at all, but the movie was awesome. 🙂

    • Oh, GOOD. Someone’s brainwashing you correctly, then. Nice to see. I’ve been reading a lot more speculative fiction so someone’s brainwashing ME pretty well, too (all those pesky book bloggers with their eclectic recommendations). John Green is just ❤ plus his videos on Vlogbrothers are so funny and inspiring and informative. Laurie Halse Anderson is an incredible write – out of three books of hers that I've read, they've all been four or more stars. And yes, the Perks movie was SO awesome!

  13. Brilliant recs. A few I’ve read and loved, a few I haven’t even heard of. I love contemporaries, not as much as post apoc and dystopians, but not far off it. They’re easy to read, to relate and also to review and discuss. I’m the same where I like to seek out well meaning and socially conscious reads, Aristotle and Dante was incredible! You should give Falling from The Sky by Nikki Godwin a read, reminded me of A & D, I think you’ll really enjoy that one too. I loved it.

  14. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves and Weekly Updates | The Loony Teen Writer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s