Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top Five Reasons to Read Contemporary Fiction

It's no secret to anyone who follows my blog regularly that while I do love fantasy and paranormal, my heart lies with contemporary fiction. I realize I'm somewhat of a minority with this, and I'm okay with that. And while I totally respect everyone's varying tastes, I have to admit, it twists my heart a little every time I hear someone flat out say "I don't read contemp." Especially because usually when I ask why, their reason is "I just don't" Okay, I do respect that. But sometimes, I wonder if people have really given it a fair chance, or if they've just read one or two, didn't like it, and judged the entire genre based on it. But beyond that, a lot of times, these same people who just don't read contemp are also the ones starting to get more frustrated with the redundancy in YA paranormal/fantasy. So with that in mind, I bring you guys my top reasons why contemp rocks.

5. Variety. Contemporary fiction, as a whole, has a huge variety of subjects. From chick lit to straight romance, to the issues books and the ones that are just fun, there honestly is something for everyone with this genre. To pick up your good mood, or because you're in the mood to really feel something, contemp has not just one or two titles for it, but most likely, quite a few.

4. When things get rough, the characters can't just use some paranormal advantage to make things okay. When they overcome hard odds... when they make it through a seemingly impossible situation... it's because of them, and not anything else. It's almost empowering to read a more or less normal person figuring out the things thrown at them.

3. No books have ever effected me or had a potent effect on me like contemp fiction. Getting lost in a book is great, but at least for me, getting lost in something with real elements is even better. Even when I'm feeling down, I can pick up a rough and tumble book and walk away feeling better because it's such a beautiful reminder that for me, it's not so bad. It could be worse.

2. Boys! No, really. Even in realistic fiction, there are still hot and sexy, swoonworthy boys. Some of my favorite boys ever, actually, are from contemp fiction.

1. It's real, but it can still take you away. Just because I pick up a book that's realistic fiction doesn't mean I've ever experienced the situation. It doesn't mean I've walked that path.

And just in case you need some recs to get you started, here's some of my favorites:

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard: A mix of funny and intense, this one will pull you in from the start with the gorgeous writing, amazing character and fantastic story.

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker: A seriously well done mystery set in a private school, with hints of sorrow but plenty of humor along the way.

Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe: One of the few books to ever make me cry, this one will challenge your way of thinking and really make you question some things.

Freefall by Mindi Scott: If you want to get into male POV books, start here. It's got huge crossover for female readers, is most definitely a romance, and has just an astounding element of realism to it.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown: This one gives a new perspective to school shootings, because it focuses on the girlfriend of the boy who brought the gun. It's one of the single most emotional and infuriating books I've ever read, but certainly one of the most potent as well.

Kiss It by Erin Downing: This one deals with some rough issues, but does it with grace and humor throughout. It has a fantastic protag who is all kinds of witty and funny, but doesn't shy away from anything either.

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian: This one is a romance with a different twist, but plenty of steam to go with it. This one puts head to head both sides of the "girl" issue, whether she should be basically uptight and swear off boys, or flaunt her sexuality, and does it well.

So there you have it. What are some of your favorite contemp books? And why?


  1. This is a great post! I love contemporary fiction. I especially agree with number 1.

    My favorite contemps are anything by sarah dessen!

  2. Contemporary is not my favorite genre to read, but I agree that it has such a great range. Much of what I have read I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE... For instance, you know how much I have been raving about Leverage. I'm still not over it. Also, when I write, contemporary is most often what comes to me...

  3. A-frikkin-men! I adore contemporary. I mean, I appreciate a -good- paranormal, but those are few and far between. Also, I haven't read ANY on your list so I have some bookstore searching to do :-) my favorites are An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Virgin Territory and Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne, John Belushi is Dead by Kathy Charles, After by Amy Efaw, and seriously anything by David Levithan.

  4. Great post! Some of my faves include Looking for Alaska, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Like Mandarin, and Anna and the French Kiss. :)

  5. Nice list!
    I'm one of the fantasy lovers, but I've found myself reading more and more contemporary fiction. In the past, my impression of it has always been that it's the "I love him, he loves her," type, but it's becoming more than that. My heart is forever embedded alongside wyverns, werewolves and warlocks, but I have a special place reserved for contemporary, even if it's not my preferred reading. :)

  6. I only read contemporary. I just finished Rival last night. It was really good.

  7. Awesome list. It's funny because I did a contemporary post about a week ago and Freefall was on my list too (which was a rec from you a few months back).

    While I love paranormal, like you, my heart with always be with contemporary. Books that have had the most profound affect on me have all been contemporary.

    Thanks for the great post!

  8. Fantastic post. I've just started to read contemporary and have found there are definitely some great ones out there. They definitely have more emotional impact than paranormal.

  9. Great post. While contemporary fiction isn't my go-to genre, some of my favorite books are contemps. Looking for Alaska by John Green, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. I mean come on, you're totally missing out if you write that genre off completely.

  10. Thanks for the post - I'm one of those people who don't usually like contemporary fiction because it sometimes just seems like a stream of consciousness from the main character and the story never actually goes anywhere. I'm definitely interested in trying your suggestions. Are ANY of them suitable for a middle school (grade 6,7,8)?

  11. Fabulous post! And thanks for the recommendations! :)

  12. I love reason number four. I've got to say, though I read contemporary YA, I haven't read any that you recommend here. I did just buy The Liar Society, though, and am hoping to get Like Mandarin soon. Great post!

  13. Jessi-- Yes! Leverage is AWESOME! I didn't put it on here only because of how completely male driven it is... =P

    Liana-- I loved Rival too! So well done, and so enjoyable!

    Janice-- The Liar Society would be okay for middle school. Some of the others are pretty gritty and rough. Some good contemps for that age group would be Trapped by Michael Northrop, Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams, and I think Stranded by JT Dutton. =)

    Liz-- There are some of my fave contemps ever. I hope you enjoy The Liar Society and can get Like Mandarin-- that one blew me away!

  14. Contemporary YA really doesn't seem all that popular and that's sad. I'm with you on it.

    I love contemporary/realistic YA. They are always the books that make me feel the most. They make me laugh more, cry more, and sometimes even swoon more. My favorite book from last year was a contemporary (The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson) and many of my faves are contemporary. Hopefully others give the genre a shot.

  15. I love this post!! :)
    Contemp is my favorite! I'm like you, when people say they don't read contemporary, i am like oh my goodness how could you even say that?
    It really makes me sad that fantasy and paranormal are the ones that everyone seems to be reading. We need to bring back the contemps!

  16. Those are tremendously good reason! I love Chick Lit

  17. I don't normally read ya contemporary, but funny thing is, I write ya contemporary!!!

    Kari- what an amazing blog you have here!!!