Tuesday Top Ten-Books I’d Give to Readers Who Don’t Read Contemporary YA

So there are two inspirations for today’s Tuesday Top Ten. One of them is that its the actual Top Ten Tuesday post over at The Broke and Bookish. So there’s that. Normally I stick to my own, but because I’ve been running out of ideas, I’ve been borrowing from that meme lately.

But I also decided to use it because it reminded me of my friend Alena. We work together and we spend most of our time (when we’re not working hard, of course), talking about books. We recommend books to each other, exchange books and basically fangirl every moment that we can. I lent her the Lunar Chronicles recently and she loved it. I love doing that.

Anyway, she mentioned recently that she tends to stick to fantasy-dystopian-science fiction, with a heavy hand in fantasy. Now while this is incredibly true of me as well, I also read a ton of contemporary YA. With authors like the ones in this list…it would be stupid to avoid contemporary.

But in reality, a lot of people are actually avoiding it. The supernatural, the science fiction, the fantasy is the most appealing right now and besides authors like John Green and Rainbow Rowell (who does appear on this list, haha), you don’t see much actual fandom for the contemporary YA. People stick to the “out of this world” sort of books.

So that’s why this week, I’m recommending 10 contemporary YA books to those of you who might be a bit hesitate to jump in. Trust me, if you read these five, you won’t regret it :)

Honorable Mention: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

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She’s just a New York City girl living with her artist mom…

News Flash: Dad is prince of Genovia. (So that’s why a limo meets her at the airport!)

Downer: Dad can’t have any more kids. (So no heir to the throne.)

Shock of the Century: Like it or not, Mia Thermopolis is prime princess material.

Mia must take princess lessons from her dreaded grandmére, the dowager princess of Genovia, who thinks Mia has a thing or two to learn before she steps up to the throne.

Well, her father can lecture her until he’s royal-blue in the face about her princessly duty–no way is she moving to Genovia and leaving Manhattan behind. But what’s a girl to do when her name is Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo?

See, this book would officially be on the list and much higher but for one reason: the topic is recommending books to those who are hesitant about reading contemporary novels. This is the first book in a ten book series so its not an easy one to recommend. But its easily one of my favorite books ever. If you’ve ever seen the movie (which I love), you’re going to love the book more. Told in literal diary form, you fall in love with Mia over and over because of her honesty, her awkwardness and her journey to figure out who she is in the sprawling mess of high school, as a princess. They’re funny and sweet, and easy reads and they meant a lot to me during my teen years and I will always love them. The fact that an adult book of this series is being released next year is so exciting to me, I can’t even handle it. 

10. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han 

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

I had never been massively impressed with Jenny Han until I read this book. Especially since I found out it was based partially on the truth that Jenny wrote letters like this to the boys she had loved before. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting in this book but I felt I got so much more. There was humor, I laughed so much. There was a romance story, but in the least expecting way. There was family, especially the bond between the three sisters. I zipped through this book easily because everything in the book felt so familiar and yet new and it all made me bubbly and happy inside.

9. 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody 

Lexington Larrabee has never to work a day in her life. After all, she’s the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to work. But then again, they’re not supposed to crash brand new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Blvd either.

Which is why, on Lexi’s eighteen birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there’s anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it’s dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.

In a hilarious “comedy of heiress” about family, forgiveness, good intentions, and best of all, second chances, Lexi learns that love can be unconditional, money can be immaterial, and, regardless of age, everyone needs a little saving. And although she might have 52 reasons to hate her father, she only needs one reason to love him.

I would have probably loved this book anyway because its Jessica Brody and I absolutely adore her but let’s back off the fact that I’m a huge JB fan, and just talk about the book itself. Its FUN. Its funny. Lexi is just a mess and you alternately want to hug her and strangle her at the same time. Its lighthearted, cute, and fun, and its a book that definitely makes you smile. That’s a huge thing about contemporary: I need a break from disease, and dying, and power hungry rulers and all of that. I want lighthearted and I want to laugh and this book will definitely make you laugh. And it’ll probably make you want to go hug your dad too.

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Trust me, I know. I’m definitely guilty of judging a book by its title and cover. So I steered VERY clear away from this book for a VERY long time, and I’m so sad that I did this. I’m very slowly trying to avoid my judgements because they often times lead me astray. This book looks like it is too romantic, cheesy, probably not written very well. But then you open the pages and you realize: this novel is incredible. Sure, yes, it has the romance and it tells the story of first love but there is so much more to that. Its not your typical love story. It’s a story of finding yourself and making mistakes and growing up and getting things wrong again and again. There’s so much more to Anna’s story than just being kissed by a boy. She struggles with living in Paris and she struggles with her feelings for a boy that she can’t have. Its beautiful and its companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door is equally as great!

7. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

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For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

What I think makes this a great novel is that its just an incredible story. I put it in the contemporary because that is what it is, despite its Groundhog Day sort of storyline. Sam is forced to relive the last day of her life seven times, and each day is a roller coaster of mistakes, getting things right, emotions, fixing things and breaking things and trying to figure out why she keeps living this day. What I think really gets you about this is that you start off absolutely hating her. Literally hating her. She’s a mean girl, and she’s definitely not a person that you can relate to. You kind of don’t hate too much that she died, to be honest. But as the book goes on, and she relives the day again and again and again, Sam learns more and more about herself and the mistakes she makes and you begin to like her, just in time to remember that she’s dead. Definitely Lauren Oliver’s best novel.

6. The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

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Jade DeLuna is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can’t quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she’s trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That’s why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that’s where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elephants. A boy carrying a baby.


His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian’s cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she’s in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.

Jade knows the situation is beyond complicated, but she hasn’t felt this safe in a long time. She owes it all to Sebastian, her boy with the great heart. Her boy who is hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right.

First off, I apologize for the abnormally long synopsis. For real. Why is it so long? Sigh. Moving on…Deb Caletti is one of the most amazing and inspiring authors that has come into my life. She’s got this way of completely capturing people, their lives, their emotions, their flaws and their strengths and her books feel so real, that you feel like every single character and situation has happened in real life. This one has always stuck to me because I feel like Jade is the character I’ve felt the closest too. She’s afraid, and she has these anxieties and fears that she just sometimes can’t control. This is all too real for me, and it’s also incredibly real in the story. When she begins to build a relationship with Sebastian and his son, and the elephants at the zoo, you just completely sucked into this story. Its a very human story, that has more than just a love story. Your emotions are tugged very hard in this one but in all the best ways.

5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Okay, this is legit the longest synopsis ever. Sorry :( The reason this is five and not lower (because legit this is one of my favorite books ever) is because while this book connects to me in so many ways, it may not for everyone. Fangirl is a great book for fangirls and boys. This is why I put it on the list. Because Cath is obsessed with a fantasy book series, obsessed to the point that she writes fan fiction and has posters plastered on her wall. She reminds me of every fangirl on Tumblr and I think that’s what makes it so good. If you’re obsessed with reading fantasy books, then you’re probably going to identify with Cath so easily. Plus, I think its one of the best new adult books out there, though its technically considered YA. It explores all the uncertainties of moving out, growing up, going to college, figuring out what you want to do with your life. Its hilarious and so familiar. But if you’re not feeling this one, I recommend Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Anything Rainbow is honestly the good way to go. 

4. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

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Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.

Morgan Matson is easily one of my favorite authors and it was this book, her debut novel, that remains my favorite, because of how much it captured me. Morgan Matson writes this perfect summer book, full of romance and the fun and spontaneity of a road trip but there’s more to it as well. Both of the characters are struggling to let go of something and it takes this road trip for them to open up about it and accept it and move on. Plus its just fun. Morgan Matson is such a great writer. I love that she has a travel diary in it, and includes pictures and receipts and things like that, to make it look like a road trip scrapbook. I love that there are playlists sprinkled through out the novel, because there is so much good music on it. This book makes you laugh and makes you cry and makes you want to pack up your car and take a road trip, if only to try all the delicious food they try in the book.

3. Just One Day by Gayle Forman

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Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

What could potentially be a cliche and cheesy novel is actually one of the most thoughtful and beautiful novels that I’ve read. Allyson Healey was on a European tour, ready to finally experience something outside of the completely planned life she has, but its not what she expects. Its planned tours and an itinerary. When she meets Willem on her last day, and he promises her a day of adventure in Paris, she breaks her routine and says yes and it turns into the best day of her life. She experiences things she’s never experienced before. When something tears them apart, you get to see how this day changes Allyson and the path that it takes her on. Its a fun adventure but it reaches to every person who wishes they could just skip everything for a day, leave school and work and all of that behind and just be spontaneous for a day and have an adventure and I think that’s what can appeal to every person.

2. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

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A long, hot summer…

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

Sarah Dessen is easily one of the best contemporary YA authors out there, and she’s been writing for quite some time. I honestly recommend any book written by her, but this one is definitely one. While its not my personal favorite, its definitely the fan favorite of the group. There’s something about this book that reaches out to everyone who reads it and I think its because of the characters. Every single one of the characters is so unique and well thought out and familiar. Everyone has a story, everyone is well developed and sometimes you can’t decide which one you like more. But the story of Macy and Wes is what gets you. Its a beautiful romance story that is subtle and perfect and takes time to develop and by the end, you’re in tears, both from happiness and heartbreak. Definitely definitely definitely read this book.

1. Winger by Andrew Smith

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Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Easily one of my favorite books of all time, and easily one of the best contemporary novels out there. The reason that its number one is because I’ve talked to boys, girls, adults, teens, preteens, people from different walks of life, and everyone who reads this book absolutely enjoys it. Its written so well, and the story is so good. Its SO funny. I’ve never read a book that captures the voice of a teenage boy as well as this one does. Andrew Smith gives his character the intelligence, the voice and the opinions of a real teenager, and gives them the credit they deserve but he also doesn’t forget that they’re teenagers and they’re stupid and they think about sex a lot. Its one of the funniest books I’ve read but it’s also one of the truest books I’ve read. Andrew captures high school, puberty, growing up, uncertainties and insecurities, family, friends, first love, loss and so much more in one book, and I honestly think that anyone and everyone will love this book.

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