This post is really just me roasting myself, because it literally JUST occurred to me
(last week) that there are people out there who don’t read contemporary???
Just when I began considering that perhaps I’m not clueless af, weird alternative realities come CRASHING upon me.
And logically I should have considered that there are people without contemporary in their lives since I barely read fantasy & sci-fi (or any genre that’s not contemporary, let’s be brutal). If I’m like this, surely there are others out there.
So I’ve put together a guide to getting started with this (precious) genre, because Malanie Loves Fiction = Quality Content™️
but what is contemporary??
My contemporary fiction definition ::
Books which take place entirely in our own setting (time period and world). Contemporary should feature a protagonist in realistic situations. It’s also largely character-driven (rather than plot-driven).
and why do people hate it???
So, I did research (she said vaguely), and the most common reasons for not reading contemporary seem to be:
1) It’s pointless. Reading is about escaping reality (i.e through fantasy or something)
2) All the contemporary books I’ve ever read are sh*tty. Actual, non-metaphorical garbage.
3) Contemporary isn’t as well-written as fantasy (prose, setting, etc.)
4) Overall, not as fun and immersive.
I don’t want to say these points are wrong, because for some people all of the above are true. In the end, it’s really just a preference thing.
++ if you force yourself to read a genre, it’s usually disastrous, ft. reading slumps, staring into the existential void, and developing an allergen to joy.
But if you’re ready to become contemporary trash, I have a guide for YOUUUUUUU.
Choosing contemporary books to read:
The first step to becoming a contemporary trashcan is to choose books than contain themes you enjoy.
The main categories of contemporary are:: fluffy and hilarious, sad sh*t (realistic tragedies), sappy and wholesome (coming-of-age), thrilling, and diverse (LGBTQ+, POC MCs, neurodiversity, etc.).
Technically, you can find diversity in any of the other categories, but I wanted to specify it because contemporary writers are doing so well lately???? They are actively surpassing white heterosexual manly norms. && I AM SO PROUD
The next step is choosing your niche.
I’m including recs for middle grade, young adult/new adult, and adult categories. *Pro Tip! Choose middle grade if you don’t want to read romance.
Contemporary tends to prioritize romance in new adult/adult books. Not always, but it’s a common(ly annoying) thing. 🙂
1. Fluffy Contemporary
Technically this is historical fiction (1970s) but I was having so much trouble finding a fluffy middle grade that’s not Percy Jackson. Disclaimer: I barely read Middle Grade lol
But this book is about friendship! And family! I’ve also heard it’s hilarious and fluffy. The best features of contemporary joining forces in this middle grade.
Also, it was a finalist for an award!? So beginners can know they’re going into something generally accepted as a cool thing to do. *swoops in for high five*
This is so soft. Emma Mills is generally good for contemporary newbies (and everyonebies). Her writing is very simple and clever and filled with platonic love!!?????
Also, Sloane is unable to tell her friends “I love and care about youu” so she instead embarks on a quest to find her friends’ lost painting.
If you’re just getting into contemporary and you like romance, romantic comedy is a great place to start. Josh and Hazel’s Guide is one of my VERY FAVORITES OF THIS EARTH. Hazel is an iconic book girlfriend, I adore her + it’s best friends – lovers.
– I predict you won’t be disappointed –
2. Destroys your feeling and isn’t sorry contemporary
Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams recommended this to me and I still haven’t read it because I’m not prepared emotionally.
This is another historical fiction but,,,,,it was contemporary at one point okay just pretend it’s fine..
Here is the synopsis:
“When Naomi, a refugee child from Nazi-occupied Paris who acts ‘crazy, ‘ moves into Alan Silverman’s building in New York, he does his best to avoid her. They slowly develop a deep and touching friendship “[which] is a joy [in] this warming story with its heart-wrenching ending.”
Excuse me while I sob in my room.
This story made me weep multiple times, YOU SIMPLY CANNOT GIVE ME INTENSE, MAGICAL FRIENDSHIPS & THEN MAKE EVERYTHING SAD.
But really the pain is worth it for how special the friend groups are in this book. +++ the plot is a little bit hard to follow at first, but once you get half-way through everything starts to make much more sense and you will fall over in shock.
The way this is crafted is so beautiful!!??? If you want something that’s really immersive, this is a great choice.
Marija @ Inside My Library Mind rec’d this to me in her Gansey’s (from The Raven Cycle) Reading List post, and I think I’m going to both hate it and love it. As a rule, I tend to avoid sad stories because they slay me for days, so I have to carefully save the saddest stories for when I have time away from school + life. If not, I’ll go out in public as a literal walking mess.
I would recommend this story if you want a contemporary that handles all the feelings.
3. sappy and wholesome contemporary
This is about a boy named August with a facial difference, trying to integrate into mainstream school. It seems like a very hopeful story???? It’s for if you want a sappy story about growing up and connecting with your community.
This is one of my favorite books of the year, it’s ///SO REALISTIC//// featuring academic stress + pressure + burnout. There’s also a soft gay romance, but this story mainly follows Ariel as he handles success-related drama.
I recommend if you don’t want something too fluffy or too sad, but in the middle.
I love romances with a hardcore, “scary b*tch” MC and this book FEATURES HER. I cherish the protagonist+ her relationship with her twin brother. Also, the romance is very cute ^.^
4. Thrilling contemporary
One of my very first contemporaries????? I loved this back in my super smol days. I remember my class read the book as a unified front, then we watched the movie but I was FEVERISH that day and had to stay home.
And I was forlorn, but then my teacher let me borrow her movie because lowkey I was her favorite. She never said so, but there was definitely “you’re my favorite kid” energy.
And I loved the movie too ❤ Overall,,,,, this is a thrilling middle grade with lovable characters + dark humor. c: c: The concept of unruly children + detention centers where close friendships are bound to happen??? idk i’m just really into this entire idea
((((((THE MOST THRILLING SERIES KNOWN TO HUMANKIND I PROMISE.))))))))
If you’re just starting out with contemporary, why not go big and immerse yourself directly into fictional sports, found family, stabby gangs out to get Neil,and the slowest burn romance ever devised??
I had to read this for a college course that was intro to contemporary literature, so this rec is College Certified Content.
Even though I went into this feeling underwhelmed, I was very soon *fully immersed.* The characters are such horrible people and yet I couldn’t help but hope in my heart for someone to commit murder.
If you like dark books, contemporary has a wealth of opportunities, so many characters who are unapologetically bad.
I really love them and support them I’ll feed them chocolate chips
5. Diverse! Contemporary
One thing I love about contemporary is how it contains so much diversity from actual societies & cultures. This is one I’ve been wanting to read fOr mOnThS, about a determined girl in her Pakistani village who dreams of being a teacher.
The reviews are somewhat mixed, but this seems like such a really great book for getting into middle grade contemporary??? ALSO THE COVER.
Darius is gay and going to visit his family in Iran and the setting IS SWOOPING AND GIVES ME CHILLS. Darius’ dialogue largely consists of carefully timed “Um”s. He also loves eclectic teas and Star Trek and this book is so under-hyped.
For someone just starting out in the genre, Darius is a great intro book, YOU’LL BE SO CHARMED.
++ the cover is so gorgeous, and when someone asks what you’re reading you can grandly present it and say, “yeah I read contemporary now it’s really casual.”
I love this. SO 🙂 MUCH 🙂
The romance made my chest physically hurt. And Stella is autistic, so it’s neurodiverse! So addicting, and a LAVISH introduction to the genre.
You will ask yourself how you can possibly deserve the blessing that is Stella & Michael.
*is weak for them*
Do you feel ready for contemporary after my amazing and helpful guide?
Comment with your favorite and/or most disappointing book in this genre!
What is your favorite genre? Do you have any middle grade recs (this post has exposed me)