So, back in October of 2018, I did a similar post – Five Favorite Contemporary Books – I’ve linked the post, feel free to check it out. At that point, I wasn’t really reading contemporary books unless they came from a few specific authors.
Then in 2019 I started falling in love with YA contemporary books again, and my list of favorites and downright enjoyable, adorable YA romcoms/contemporaries has exploded. I mean, there are so many of them now, and I thought I’d share some of my absolute You Must Read These If You Haven’t Already books.
I’m just looking at my shelves that hold my mass majority of my contemporary books and I just realized that this post might be longer than I anticipated. I didn’t realize just how many amazing books I’d fallen in love with since the start of last year, but let’s do it! It’s the last day of 2020 and I want to give y’all some fun romcom recs – as well as some heavier, but just as amazingly good contemporary ones.
I’ve read all of these books, and there are definitely reviews for each of them floating around on this blog, so feel free to search for those as well!
Oh, btw, these are in no particular order!
Again, but Better – Christine Roccio
Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?
Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!
Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.
Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.
Invisible Ghosts – Robyn Schneider
Rose Asher believes in ghosts. She should, since she has one for a best friend: Logan, her annoying, Netflix-addicted brother, who is forever stuck at fifteen. But Rose is growing up, and when an old friend moves back to Laguna Canyon and appears in her drama class, things get complicated.
Jamie Aldridge is charming, confident, and a painful reminder of the life Rose has been missing out on since her brother’s death. She watches as Jamie easily rejoins their former friends–a group of magnificently silly theater nerds–while avoiding her so intensely that it must be deliberate.
Yet when the two of them unexpectedly cross paths, Rose learns that Jamie has a secret of his own, one that changes everything. Rose finds herself drawn back into her old life–and to Jamie. But she quickly starts to suspect that he isn’t telling her the whole truth.
All Rose knows is that it’s becoming harder to choose between the boy who makes her feel alive and the brother she isn’t ready to lose.
You’d Be Mine – Erin Hahn
Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.
But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.
Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.
How to Speak Boy – Tiana Smith
Quinn and Grayson have been fierce speech and debate rivals for years. They can’t stand one another, either in competition or in real life.
But when their AP Government teacher returns their school assignments to the wrong cubbies, they begin exchanging anonymous notes without knowing who the other is.
Despite their differences, the two come together through their letters and find themselves unknowingly falling for the competition. Before the state tournament, the two of them need to figure out what they want out of life, or risk their own future happiness. After all, what’s the point of speech and debate if you can’t say what’s in your heart?
Only a Breath Apart – Katy McGarry
They say your destiny is carved in stone. But some destinies are meant to be broken.
The only curse Jesse Lachlin believes in is his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year.
A fortuneteller tells Scarlett she’s psychic, but what is real is Scarlett’s father’s controlling attitude and the dark secrets at home. She may be able to escape, but only if she can rely on the one boy who broke her heart.
Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings, but as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…
Echoes Between Us – Katie McGarry
Echoes Between Us is bestselling author Katie McGarry’s breakout teen contemporary novel about a girl with everything to lose and the boy who will do anything to save her.
Veronica sees ghosts. More specifically, her mother’s ghost. The afterimages of blinding migraines caused by the brain tumor that keeps her on the fringes and consumes her whole life haunt her, even as she wonders if it’s something more…
Golden boy Sawyer is handsome and popular, a state champion swimmer, but his adrenaline addiction draws him to Veronica.
A girl with nothing to live for and a boy with everything to lose–can they conquer their demons together?
Love, Life, and the List – Kasie West
Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings, Abby isn’t going to take any chances.
Which is where the list comes in.
Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list, she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being.
But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems . . . and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.
Tweet Cute – Emma Lord
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss – Amy Noelle Parks
Seventeen-year-old Evie Beckham has never been interested in dating. She’s been fully occupied by her love of mathematics and her frequent battles with anxiety (and besides, she’s always found the idea of kissing to be a little bit icky). But with the help of her best friend and her therapist, Evie’s feeling braver. Maybe even brave enough to enter a prestigious physics competition and to say yes to the new boy who’s been flirting with her.
Caleb Covic knows Evie isn’t ready for romance but assumes that when she is, she will choose him. So Caleb is horrified when he is forced to witness Evie’s meet cute with a floppy-haired, mathematically gifted transfer student. Because Caleb knows the girl never falls for the funny best friend when there’s a mysterious stranger around, he decides to use an online forum to capture Evie’s interest. Now, he’s got Evie wondering if it’s possible to fall in love with a boy she’s never met.
More Than We Can Tell – Brigid Kemmerer
Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.
Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.
When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected.
Flawed – Becky Bird
When Mia Baker begins at an elite school on a scholarship, she’s instantly besotted with the hot but arrogant Finn Davis. But when she overhears him commenting on her attractiveness compared to her beautiful sister Jade, Mia takes an instant dislike to him.
When Finn’s best friend Charlie takes an interest in Jade and invites both sisters to his family’s lake house for the weekend, Mia and Finn are forced into close proximity. Despite their differences, their attraction to each other continues to grow.
But Finn’s not about to admit he might actually like Mia. She’s on a scholarship, and she’s failing English. Then there’s Grayson Wang, his mortal enemy, who Mia can’t seem to get enough of.
When Charlie starts dating Mia’s sister, Finn begins to doubt just how genuine Jade’s feelings are for him, so he warns his friend to cut Jade loose. When Mia finds out Finn is to blame for her sister’s heartbreak, it only continues to fuel her harsh judgments of him.
But, if there is to be a happily ever after, Mia must overcome her pride, and Finn, Mia’s socioeconomic status.
Magnolia – Kristi Cook
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.
Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.
But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.
The Fine Art of Pretending – Rachel Harris
According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.
With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.
But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.
I typically like romcoms if I’m going the YA contemporary route, but depending on the author, I will read heavier contemporary books. I’m slowly finding my feet in this genre. I used to absolutely love it and then I got bored. I stopped reading it unless it was by Brigid Kemmerer. I just didn’t find enough of an escape in YA contemporary books, they felt loaded and too realistic, so I just moved away from them.
Then I tried reading some and slowly started falling in love, and y’all the sheer amount of adorable sounding YA romcoms and contemporary books coming out in 2021 – I’m fucking excited. Like, so fucking excited – I’m annoyed that these books aren’t currently out, because I’m ready to get lost in adorable meet cutes, fake dating, rivalries, and just pure loveliness. I mean, just look up some lists of upcoming YA books and peep at the contemporaries. I can’t actually remember a time when I was actively looking forward to that genre. But, fuck, I am!
I’m totally going to be adding a part 3 to this journey of me falling back in love with YA contemporaries. I have a few eARC’s sitting on my Kindle, and the one I’m currently reading, I have a feeling is going to be another favorite. But for now, here are some of my absolute favorites and I’ve re-read some of the older release’s multiple times because they’re just that good. As for the newer ones – you can sure as hell bet, I’ll be re-reading them in the future.