Book Nerds Unite, Curated Reading Lists, Lists!
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It’s quite common for readers to lean towards a specific genre, and, in the process, generally avoid other genres. We all have our likes and dislikes. Maybe you’ve read a few novels in a genre that made you decide it wasn’t for you. Or worse, maybe you *whispers* hate *whispers* that genre. Well, we’re here to change your mind (ambitious, we know)!

Today we wanted to spend some time talking about contemporary books. If you’ve been avoiding them, you’re overlooking A LOT. And frankly, we just can’t sleep well at night knowing that readers out there are missing out on some top-notch stories! Authors have been crushing it with delivering important, diverse coming-of-age reads that are hard to find elsewhere in the media. Let us convince you to give them a chance.

Side note: If you already love contemporary, fret not. This is just the first entry in larger series we’ll be posting over here on Epic Reads.

1. The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas’ powerful debut novel is one of the first books to be inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as being influenced by Tupac’s Thug Life. With acclaim from both critics and readers alike, the universal consensus is that this book isn’t one to be missed.

The plot: The uneasy balance in sixteen-year-old Starr Carter’s life shatters when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Now, at the center of a national uproar, she faces danger from protestors on both sides and must risk her own safety to tell the world what really happened that night.

Add The Hate U Give to your Goodreads shelf!


2. More Happy Than Not

Adam Silvera’s heartbreaking first novel speaks to the darkest most underrepresented aspects of dealing with grief and the struggle to accept your identity in the face of adversity.

The plot: In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again—and he especially didn’t expect to find it in the confusing feelings he has for his friend, Thomas. Since Aaron can’t stay away from his friend or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Add More Happy Than Not to your Goodreads shelf!

3. The Sun Is Also A Star

Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world. 💫 -Voltaire

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Nicola Yoon makes us feel all the emotions with this romance between Natasha and Daniel. Along with her first book, Everything, Everything, Yoon proves herself a powerful writer and a master at crafting stories of love and representation.

The plot: Natasha’s family is just twelve hours from being deported to Jamaica, so the last thing she has on her mind is falling in love. Daniel is the prodigal son, always living up to his parent’s expectations, but when he meets her, he can’t help but feel like his life is going to change. In just a short amount of time, the universe has plans for the two that neither could have seen coming.

Add The Sun is Also a Star to your Goodreads Shelf!

4. When Dimple Met Rishi

This Own Voices novel from Sandhya Menon speaks to both unexpected love and Indian-American protagonists. A delightful and fresh debut novel that became an instant NYT bestseller and celebrates two things we don’t often see in YA rom-coms: coding and culture.

The plot: Dimple Shah is more than ready to finally be free from her family and her mother’s obsession with finding her the “Ideal Indian Husband.” What she doesn’t know is that they’ve planted her future husband at the summer program for web designers she’s attending before college. Rishi, believing in the power of tradition, is a hopeless romantic who couldn’t be more on board with the plan.

Add When Dimple Met Rishi to your Goodreads shelf! 

5. Ramona Blue

Julie Murphy has always delivered when it comes to young adult contemporary. In her latest novel, she deals with life in a small town and learning that your sexual identity can be fluid and change.

The plot: Standing over six feet tall with stark blue hair, Ramona has never had an easy life. The three things she knows are that she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and life has something greater in store for her. When her childhood best friend Freddy returns, it brings a much-needed change in her life. Their friendship picks off exactly where it left off, but Ramona soon finds herself wondering if it might be more.

Add Ramona Blue to your Goodreads shelf!

6. Eliza and Her Monsters

An advocate for mental health, Francesca Zappia’s second novel features a main character with depression and anxiety. Further, anyone who’s a reader will be able to relate to living in two different worlds and struggling to balance them.

The plot: Eliza’s online life has always been easier than her real one. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, creator of the wildly popular web comic, Monstrous Sea. She can’t imagine the real world ever being as enjoyable, until Wallace Warland. He’s Monstrous Sea’s biggest fan fiction writer, and he now goes to her school. With Wallace, Eliza begins to think the real life might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret goes public, her online world, and her real world, begin to fall apart.

Add Eliza and Her Monsters to your Goodreads Shelf! 

7. I’ll Give You the Sun

I’ll Give You the Sun speaks to how messy it can be to lose a loved one, and how it’s okay to grieve as long as you need to, but it’s also okay to feel happy again. It’s a coming of age story told in the wake of a tragedy.

The plot: This somber yet radiant tale follows the lives of twins Jude and Noah who once meant the world to each other. Three years later, the siblings are no longer speaking. Nelson tells, through dual perspectives and alternating timelines, the tale of the tragedy that broke them apart, and the realization that they both only have half the story.

Add I’ll Give You the Sun to your Goodreads shelf!

8. The Upside of Unrequited

If we could only say one thing about Becky Albertalli, it’d be that she’s the cutest person in the world. And the same can be said for her books. A bright light in the author community, her books are as loving and inclusive as they come.

The plot: For fear of being rejected, Molly Peskin has been through unrequited love twenty-six times and counting. Her relationship with her weight has made her guarded and careful. That in mind, it’s not a surprise she finds herself crushing on two guys. There’s Will, the hipster-boy sidekick to her sister’s girlfriend. Then there’s her co-worker Reid, a Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Renaissance fair. But things could be different this time, her crush(es) just might become something more.

Add The Upside of Unrequited to your Goodreads shelf!

 

9. Bad Romance

Seasoned author Heather Demetrios’ newest novel is told through unflinching honesty. This time around, she speaks to how it’s not easy to break free from a place of darkness and learn to see the light again.

Between her father’s intimidation and her mother’s painful chores, Grace’s family life has always been dysfunctional and abusive. She can’t wait to fulfill her big city dreams and no longer feel scared and alone. But when she falls for the charming, talented Gavin, she doesn’t know that he’ll end up being another prison she can’t escape.

Add Bad Romance to your Goodreads shelf!

 

10. The Serpent King

Hey friends! Is it any surprise that I was giggling the entire time while taking this photo? It's Wednesday's #bookishbox photo challenge with my color green 💚 Though I do have a long standing loyalty to blue, I think green may be my favorite color (shh… don't tell the other colors 😋) Also, to me, green is the perfect color for Wednesday! For me, it's the only day of the week that fit its respective color. 📖 Anyway, the book that I chose for today was The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. This book was such a moving and thought provoking read. Not to mention the cover is gorgeous! 💚 Here I have the hardback, but the new paperback edition is breathtaking. I might just need to have two copies! 📖 #books #book #bookish #booktag #bookstagram #bookoutlet #bookworm #readmore #bookphotograph #bookaddict #bookaholic #bookporn #book📖 #booklove #goodreads #epicreads #theserpentking #jeffzentner #shwings

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Jeff Zenter is another author whose debut novel packed an unexpected emotional punch. Dealing with faith, tragedy, and the aftermath of both, The Serpent King is yet another contemporary telling the kind of coming of age stories you won’t find elsewhere.

Dill grew up the son of a Pentecostal minister who had a fascination with poisonous snakes. On top of that, his family’s extreme faith made him the target of school bullies. With his dad now in jail, Dill’s life hasn’t gotten any easier. His only reprieves are his two best friends, Travis and Lydia. With senior year starting, he can’t help but feel like his impending graduation feels more like an ending than a new beginning.

Add The Serpent King to your Goodreads shelf!


What other books would you recommend? Tell us in the comments below! 

Up Next: 10 YA Books That Will Make You LOL