Discussion: Why I Read Contemporary

Contemporary – living or occurring at the same time.

Contemporary books have always been a go-to of mine. I can find a contemporary book to fit any occasion. From the fluffy romances, to the exploration of our complex world, contemporary books have a lot to offer us. Here are the qualities I love most in a contemporary novel.

Reality

In the world of fantasy, we have the luxury of escaping to a new world and forgetting about our own reality. However, contemporary is grounded in the reality of this world. The characters face daily struggles we relate to. From navigating the struggles of high school, to dating, pressure of having your shit together in a world that’s looking to bring you down etc. Most contemporary books usually deals with a situation you can relate to.

On top of that, the characters themselves are forced to navigate through these struggles. They can’t rely on magic to save them. They have to use their own strength to overcome the challenges they face. It’s not easy but it provides incredible character growth because over the course of the book we see the changes that come with taking on these fears and struggles. It gives the character a chance to reflect and learn more about themselves. One of the biggest struggles I’ve encountered in my life is discovering the person I want to be and meeting these characters and seeing them struggle with those same issues provides a sense of comfort and reassurance that you’re not the only one that feels this way.

A wide range of topics

There are no limits to the topics you can explore in a contemporary book. Yes, you can explore these issues in a fantasy but along with that you have to take into account the magic, the world and a new set of rules within said world. Contemporary books on the other hand can give a topic the spotlight it needs. There’s no limit to what they can explore and sometimes these book can introduce you to issues you never encountered before. It also provides and opportunity to explore the complexities of said issue and how they effect the lives of not just the character but also on their loved ones. Take Saving Francesca for example. This book focuses on the effects of depression on a family. In between dealing with her mother’s depression and keeping the family together, Francesca is also trying to navigate a new school, new friendships and a romance. Her mother’s depression is a constant presence in this book. It doesn’t need a flashy spotlight because it’s an issue that makes itself known in the way we see it effect the family. How it changes the dynamic between them, how it strains their relationship, but also how it can bring them together. It’s the beauty in the simplicity of it’s execution that makes it such an impacting book.

Variety of perspectives

Contemporary books allow us the opportunity to explore things from a different perspective. They challenge us to open our mind to the wonderful and diverse world we live in. This world is not one made in black and white, it’s riddles with shades of grey. Contemporary books give us the luxury of exploring these complexities from the view of a variety of characters. Some who are directly impacted and others that have that outside looking in point of view. Contemporary gives a voice to diversity. Within these books we can meet characters from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures whilst highlighting the issues they face in their daily lives. Whether it be racism or finding your place in a community, contemporary books provide an insight into our complex world.

Benefit of a standalone

Fantasy books make for a great series. It has that benefit of establishing and exploring a new world within an average of three books. However, sometimes a standalone can be just as engaging. You can follow a journey from beginning to end within 300-400 pages. Being a mood reader a standalone is a perfect book to turn to when you’re feeling in a bit of a rut. You don’t have that same time commitment as to when you read a series. Sometimes you need a light and fluffy book to indulge in. It’s an easy pick me up.

Contemporary Recommendations

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios:
PTSD in a young, wounded soldier. Exploration of poverty. Friendship. Slow burn romance.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta:
Flawed and complex characters. Exploration of human nature and how the past effects the present.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
A big family. Adorable love story. Perfect for the summer.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Flawed characters. Exploration of identity. Memory and choice. LGBTQ+.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Friendship. Family. Romance. Character growth.

Those are the qualities I love most about contemporary books.
What do you look for in a contemporary?
What are your contemporary book recommendations?

 

 

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35 thoughts on “Discussion: Why I Read Contemporary

  1. really great post!! I love that we have all so many different tastes in books. It’s great to have common passion but within this passion we can go our different ways. Contemporary romance is at the moment what I read 90% of the time. 5-10 years ago, I read mostly historical romance. Clearly taste changes throughout life, what has never changed is my love of READING. So, I don’t really care what anyone reads, I can connect with people as long as they read.:D

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    • This year has been a big one for contemporary books for me. I typically read more fantasy but I’ve just been in the mood to switch it up. I can never predict what type of book I’ll end up reading but that’s part of the fun. Reading is definitely a great way to connect to people, regardless of what they read. πŸ˜€

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  2. I don’t read a ton of contemporary because I prefer genre fiction, but I agree there are great contemporary books out there! I do particularly like all of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books.

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    • That’s the beauty of contemporary. Even if it’s not a go-to genre you can usually find a book that will suit your reading needs for that moment in time. Huntley Fitzpatrick is usually a go-to in the summer for me

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  3. As a diehard fantasy lover, this was quite interesting to read! I don’t usually read contemporary because I find the reality part boring – I look to books to give me something I can’t get in real life, so if I’m only reading books about day-to-day things I’ve always experienced, that kind of takes away the point of reading for me. I do think your other points can and do apply to fantasy as well, though maybe not as much as contemporary. Brining in different POVs and writing more approachable standalones are things we as a genre can work on. I do think that taking contemporary issues and putting them in a fantasy setting can help open people’s eyes to them, though. By viewing the issue in a new context – not one where we already have establish prejudices and bias – it can often be easier to see the other side and form a new opinion.

    All that said, there are several contemporary books I’ve enjoyed! The All for the Game Trilogy by Nora Sakavic, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, and anything by Francesca Zappia are my faves. πŸ™‚

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    • I agree with what you’ve said about finding these components in a fantasy as well. They can offer a fresh perspective of said issue and topic. I think there’s enough room for both fantasy and contemporary to highlight these topics and while I love losing myself in a fantasy, I do love reading a contemporary I can relate to and sometimes even the most mundane of circumstances can help change a perspective.
      I still need to read Simon vs and a Francesca Zappia books. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about those books and hopefully I can get to them soon enough. Thank you for the comment. πŸ˜€

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  4. Love this post😊 contemporary novels are also my go to because I see myself in so many characters. I love reading books about ‘relatable’ problems like mental health and LGBTQ. Some of my favourites are Eleanor and Park, It Ends With Us and Paper Princess. The Unexpected Everything is on my summer TBR and I can’t wait to read it😊

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    • It does provide a sense of comfort when you find a character or a situation you can relate to. It almost eases the pressure in a way. I hope you enjoy The Unexpected Everything.

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  5. Great post!!! I also love reading contemporary books. There is definitely a variety of topics. When I want to read something light hearted, there is a book for that. When I want to read something that makes me think, there is also a book for that! Contemporary is definitely my favorite genre (though fantasy is a close second)!
    Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ I loved reading this post!

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    • I couldn’t have said it better myself. There’s something different for everyone with contemporary and I love that you can find a book for every occasion within the genre. Thank you so much for commenting.

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  6. I love love LOVE this post so much. As a contemporary reader and lover, I agree with everything you said here. Contemporaries might make us think more of our real lives, but they are also so relatable and, well…they feel so real, both the themes and characters. It’s what I love the most about it, and contemporaries more often than not bring me tons of feelings.
    I love all of your contemporary recs, you basically recommended some of my favorites! The only one I haven’t read here is Jellicoe Road…well, on my TBR it goes πŸ˜€
    Lovely post! ❀

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    • Couldn’t have said it better myself. There’s something for every occasion within contemporary but what gets me the most is that connection I feel. When I read about a character that faces the same struggles as I do or feels a certain way about something it gives me comfort.
      You have to read Jellicoe Road. If you want feels, that book will pack plenty of punches.

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  7. Great post!! I actually read contemporary for a completely different reason; I prefer fantasy, but occasionally I’ll read a really light contemporary because it’s like candy and I don’t like to think. I looove dark fantasy that teaches me things, but I actually avoid that kind of contemporary for some reason.

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    • I’m a sucker for a good fantasy as well and I must admit I often turn to contemporary as a break from all the doom and gloom of fantasy haha. It gives my mind a break. πŸ˜›

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  8. This is a great post! I’ve been trying to explain people why I don’t read that much of fantasy for a long time and now you explained it all πŸ™‚ I also believe that some contemporary will become classics one day. Also, I like when i can relate to the character or a situation and see what happens. It’s a great guide to life and different people out there πŸ˜‰ I agree that also the variety of problems discussed are infinite and it’s always nice to educate yourself!

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    • Exactly. I love fantasy but with contemporaries I find the greatest comfort in reading about a character experiencing the same struggles I face. There’s no limitation to what you can find in a contemporary book. Thank you for commenting. πŸ˜€

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    • Standalones and companion novels are everything to me these days. Series require a time commitment that I don’t have most days so standalones have become my best friend as of late haha.

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  9. Contemporary is normally my least read genre because I just can’t get into the romance-y ones however this year I think it’s been my most read genre? I really love contemporaries that are more serious and deal with topics like mental illness, sexuality ect. (not that I have anything against the lighter ones, they’re just not for me!). They’ve actually been a great break from all the fantasy/sci-fi I usually read though. They’re soooo quick to get through which helps my TBR, haha. I LOVED More Happy Than Not!!

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    • I must admit I’m a sucker for a good romance haha. Oddly enough contemporary has been my most read this year as well. The lack of time commitment is partly the reason why cause I find it so much easier to read standalones or companion novels these days. I really need to read the rest of Adam Silvera’s books. I feel like they’ll crush me haha.

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  11. Such excellent points! I really enjoy contemporary books that do not center around romance. Since contemporary covers such a wide variety of topics, I can not only find books that I can relate to, but I can also find books that I gain new insight into a perspective/situation that I have no experience in. I also really like that contemporary books are typically standalones. While I love me a good fantasy series, they can also be overwhelming and hard to wait for subsequent books.

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    • I must admit I am a sucker for romance but it’s nice knowing that I can easily find a non-romance centric book if I want to. I love getting to see things from a different perspective as well. It helps provide a more rounded understanding of the topic they’re covering. Fantasy series are definitely overwhelming at times, especially in the summer when I’m on a contemporary high most of the time haha.

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  13. YES YES YES YES YES!!! Contemporary books is my favorite genre because of exactly all of these points! My favorite author is definitely Morgan Matson because her books are amazing and I love the fact that they’re filled with family and friendship themes instead of only romance (Although, i am a sucker for romances).

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    • Morgan Matson is one of my go-to contemporary authors. She does a great job at balancing all these different dynamics and establishing compelling relationships.

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