Now this is something that I’ve done before. I did this exact post for the Tuesday Top Ten on April 30th, 2013, so a good year and a half ago. In that nearly two year period, Ive spent a LOT of time reading new books. A TON of time. So, of course, my favorite YA contemporary novel list has changed.
This blog has been around for two and a half years now and so that means that I will be doing repeats of old Tuesday Top Tens because things change, because the beauty of this blog that I’m constantly reading new books and being introduced to new authors so I’m finding new favorites. When you get down to it, this list is probably going to chance in a week or two anyway.
But I digress. Here are my top ten favorite YA contemporary books.
Side Note: Can I just say how proud I am of myself for posting this? Seriously. I rock. Moving on…
10. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
The first time I read this book was back in 2001, when I was 12 years old. I had seen the movie, thought it was cute and immediately went out and bought the book. Now, the book is SO incredibly different from the movie, SO different and I immediately fell in love with it. Mia felt so close to the person that I am: awkward, shy, failing math, in love with my best friend’s brother (it worked out SO much better for her than me), loving writing, etc. She felt awkward for being tall, with no boobs; I felt awkward for being really short with huge boobs. Because this entire series is written in diary format, you are in the mind of Mia the entire time. So it feels real and authentic and like reading a note from your best friend. It feels genuine and it always made me laugh and cry and feel relatively sane. Mia is constantly being paranoid and worrying and doing all these fun teenage things and it makes me feel relatively normal, especially when I was a teen!
For the longest time, Lola and the Boy Next Door was my favorite from Stephanie Perkins because I loved the quirkiness of both Lola and Cricket. But as soon as I read Isla, I knew this one had easily passed it up. What I love about this book is …well, a lot of things. First off, Isla felt closer to me than Lola and Anna. She was happy, she got the boy, but she doubted it, she felt insecure, she always felt like she might screw it up. That sort of insecurity has been with me for ages and even after a relationship, I still sometimes feel like that, like anything that I say or do can tip the scale, both with potential boyfriends/girlfriends and with just friends alone. Plus Josh was the dreamiest of the boys in all the books, his graphic novel drawing and writing skills were swoon worthy. But I think what I love about this book is that its not the beautiful happily ever after we always expect. It tells us that relationships and love is wonderful but it doesn’t come without work and struggle, which is SO true. I love everything about this book. Plus Stephanie Perkins is just plain awesome.
First off, I love the main character’s name, Auden. I love that this has the love story and the beauty of summer, as does most of her books, but I think I love that it focuses a lot on the relationship between Auden and her parents. I know what its like to be forced to grow up quickly and to have that reality that parents aren’t perfect thrust on you. I’ve dealt with parents who have run from their mistakes instead of facing them head on. I’ve dealt with that fear that things were my fault. I think Sarah really captures a lot here. A lot of her characters are growing up as a teenager, becoming adults, that sort of thing, but in this book, Auden is just growing up, period. She’s experiencing things that you learn from just being a child, like riding a bike and bowling and that sort of thing. And I think that’s beautiful. I think I like Auden transforming from this closed off person to someone who accepts that she’s imperfect, that she makes mistakes and that she can open herself up to new things and new people.
The first time I read this book was quite a few years ago. I had just bought my first e-reader, and I was looking through top sellers, but cheap, and this one caught my eye. It sounded kind of juicy and I liked the premise of it, so I decided to buy it. And I’m so so glad that I did. Tammara writes a four part series following the story of Reid Alexander, an actor who is hot, charming, and totally full of trouble. These books are sexy, and fun, and kind of make me wish that Reid Alexander was real so, 1. He could play Jace Wayland in a City of Bones adaptation and 2. So I could just date him, period. But what surprised me is the emotional depth of these books. The characters were all real to me, and the character development of Reid over the course of the four books just absolutely blows my mind. I love these books SO much, I reread them all the time.
The Secret Life of Prince Charming was actually the first Deb Caletti book I ever read, and I’m so glad I did because it turned me on to an author that just literally blows my mind every time she releases a new book. She writes so beautifully, against the north west coast of the United States. She captures the setting, the story, the emotions, the people, everything so well that it always sticks out in your mind. I don’t often have a hard time recalling her books because she’s just such a beautiful writer. I thought that this book was so unique in compared with other contemporary romance YA novels. I think that Quinn learns a lot about love, in that, its a great and wonderful and awesome thing but its also complicated and difficult and it has its ups and downs. That’s the beauty of this book. It doesn’t gloss over the hard parts, and it doesn’t glorify the hard parts. Relationships, love, breaking up, moving on, all of that is SO hard and its all in this book and I love every bit of it.
5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love everything Gayle Forman touches. She’s an absolutely incredible writer and she writes stories that are so unique but real. I love If I Stay and I loved the movie as well. But the minute that I finished Just One Day, I knew I had read something that was amazing and I wouldn’t forget it. Just One Day is about adventure, about that incredibly rare idea of adventure and love and throwing caution to the wind, that sort of thing. And I just loved it. Who wouldn’t want to spend a crazy day around Paris, with a super charming and sexy guy? I know I would. But the book goes beyond that, beyond just the adventure. It follows Allyson for a year after this experience, seeing how it changes her, and her life and the way she views life and I think that’s just…incredible (even though I’ve repeated that word in this post about, oh, about a thousand million times). Its just…beautiful. Its full of SO MANY FEELS. And its nice to think that one day, just one day, could change everything.
I grabbed this book because it was on the shelf next to Sarah Dessen’s current release. I liked the cover, and it was next to Sarah and the back cover sounded pretty interesting. Now Morgan is one of my favorite authors and I love getting to see her as often as possible, because she is just an incredible author. The story follows Amy and Roger, as they go on this road trip across the US to new homes, to places where they don’t really want to go. Its supposed to be a straight shot to the destination until they decide…screw this, let’s have an adventure. Did I mention that I like adventures? I like the possibilities of adventure, the idea that you’re making up every step of the way on a whim, and I think that’s what Amy and Roger love about it, the idea that anything is possible, when things have gone so wrong in both of their lives. Plus, its a road trip books, and road trip books are fun and make me want to get in my car and have a road trip, and Morgan talks about all these cool food places to eat (god I love food) and she has playlists throughout the book and she has a great taste in music. Okay, now I want to go read this book again…
3. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
This is my favorite Sarah Dessen book ever and I think it all boils down to that there was so much about Remy that I wanted to be, especially in high school. She’s beautiful, smart, in control, confident. She knows what she wants, who she wants and when she wants it and she knows how to get it. She’s brilliant. Of course, she has no idea how to love someone, and she has no idea how emotions help not hinder you and hold back. She has to learn that she can trust others and that trusting others is not the end of the world. But I wanted to be her. I wanted to be that confident and to hold my beauty (possibly) as a weapon, and to be as in control as she seems to be. I was always so messy and emotional in high school and I wanted so hard to be in control of all of that and I never felt like that. Plus I just love Dexter, the male lead of the book. He’s a musician and goofy and genuine and just hilarious. I want a boy like Dexter. Can someone find me something like that? haha.
2. Winger by Andrew Smith
There are so many wonderful things about this book that I am not even sure where to begin. This book made me laugh so hard I cried, and made me cry because I was so sad. It is one of those books that made me stop and think, this is a teen voice. This is completely the voice of the character. There are so many authors that write in the voice of a teenager but none of them ever seem to get it as much as Andrew Smith does when writing in the mind of Ryan Dean West. Andrew is an incredible writer, and I hadn’t heard of him before this book, to be completely honest, so when I did, I was just blown away by this book. I had never really read anything like it before so it has been stuck in my mind since then, and it easily became my favorite book. I’ve read it two or three times since then and it just blows my mind every single time. It makes me laugh so much and I wish I could write a book this good, one that I want to buy a million copies of and shove it into every single person’s hands.
1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This has become one of my favorite books in the entire world. When I first heard of it, I thought that the title was super cute because being a fangirl is a huge part of my life, and Cath’s obsession with Simon Snow in the description of the novel sounded so familiar. What I didn’t know is that I would read this book that literally felt like it walked into my very soul and knew it. That sounded really cheesy, wow. Wow. But its true. Cath is exactly the way I have been and the way I still am. She loses herself into these books, escapes into them, because they make her happy, they make the bad things go away. She’s afraid of the world outside of books, she’s anxious about new things, she likes to be alone and fan fiction and the internet are her friends. There’s something about Cath being thrown into these new situations, solo, so outside of her comfort zone that just makes me feel so familiar. It makes me feel happy to know that, even though this is a fictional character, there’s someone who understands how I feel. Cath is so me, its scary. She says things that make me laugh and cry and literally reaches into me and makes me want to say “OHMYGOD YES”. It has become, easily, one of my favorite books ever.
What are some of your favorite contemporary YA novels? Share them in the comments!