What Does “Contemporary” Mean Anyway?

If you have visited a local book store, you have probably seen an aisle or section dedicated to contemporary books.

“What are these and why are they grouped together?”: I used to ask myself this question all the time. After some research, I realized that the COMMON THREAD connecting all of these books was the setting — they took place in the here and now and focus on situations that could feasibly take place in real life.

There are two different groups of contemporary books, light and heavy. The lighter books tend be less intense, center around romance and almost always have a happy ending. The heavier books deal with more intense issues and mostly end in ambiguous ways. In this article, I will let you know in which group I have placed each book so you can decide which ones best suit you.

Here are a few books on the light end that are sure to bring a smile to your face! “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han is a great read. The premise: Lara Jean is a typical high school student who is just like everyone else. Sure, she writes and addresses love letters to her past loves and keeps them hidden away in her room, but who doesn’t, right? I’m sure you have guessed the plot twist; the love letters get mailed to the boys and Lara Jean has to deal with the positive and negative repercussions. There are many embarrassing moments in this book, but the cute moments balance it out. If in the end you still want more, don’t worry! This book is a part of a trilogy with the second book scheduled to come out on April 21, 2015.

Want another light book? “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell is a quirky, coming-of-age novel that follows Cath, an introverted college freshman who wants to write fanfiction, not go to class. She is incredibly shy and doesn’t visit the cafeteria until weeks after college has started. This book is hilarious, painfully cute and has the potential to make you cry. Every college reader should put this on his or her to-read list. You will not regret it! My only complaint is that I wanted it to keep going after it ended! If you liked “Fangirl,” you may want to consider reading some of Rainbow Rowell’s other books, like “Eleanor and Park.” This book leans more toward the heavier group but is still filled with many cute moments!

Now that you have some light reads in your pocket, let’s add some heavy ones. If you have not seen, read or heard about “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, then you have been living life under a rock. This tale about two cancer patients has revolutionized the perception and understanding of love. It is a cancer book not swallowed by cancer, and it has been made into a film starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. The director, Josh Boone, is a wonderfully creative upcoming director who captures the essence of the book perfectly! If you haven’t seen it, go! And if you haven’t read it, do it! There are hard topics, but there are also light-hearted moments strewn throughout the story. John Green has also written “An Abundance of Katherines” and “Paper Towns,” which are both satisfying reads. Anything John Green writes is amazing and tends to have a quietly astounding, reflective quality. In the words of Hazel Grace, the main character, “I would read his grocery lists!”

Now for another heavy book—“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart. Cadence St. Clair is a part of the St. Clair family. And every summer, the St. Clair family goes to Beechwood Island. That is all I’m going to tell you because this book needs no introduction. You will have the best experience possible by reading it without someone else’s interpretation. However, if you already know more information than I have told you, do not let that stop you from picking it up! This book is still extremely moving and worth the read.

If you want some books that have light and dark components, here is a short list!

The first is “Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins. This book follows Anna, a senior in high school who has to move schools to France!

If you like your books to be filled with suspense, then check out the dual perspective novel “Panic” by Lauren Oliver.

There you have it – 10 contemporary books to add to your repertoire of reading! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, and remember, don’t knock it ‘til you read it!