Why I Fell in Love with Contemporary YA

thoughts orangutan

It’s no secret that I didn’t always love contemporary YA. For a huge part of my childhood and teens, it was sort of just there. I was much more of a fantasy gal and while I appreciated a good romance, I didn’t think that “good” and “romance” added up to contemporary YA (I know, I had some real genre snobbishness going on). And then, when I went to uni, right at the age when I was supposed to graduate from YA, I started reading more of it when I needed to chill… and that’s when I really discovered how much the genre had to offer- whoops! 😉 Anyway, now that I’m all grown up, I thought it would be fun to share some of the reasons I love the genre. And if it’s not your jam, no doubt this list will provide all the reasons you don’t like it- so if you think about it, this list is for everybody 😉

isla and the happily ever afterThey’re relatable– this is one of the biggest draws for a lot of readers and I know it was for me. I remember the moment when YA contemporary *clicked* for me: it was reading Isla and the Happily Ever After and realising how much I had in common with the main character. While I’d enjoyed Anna and Lola (the first two books in the series), reading Isla was like finding a bookish bestie. And you know what? Ever since that point I’ve regularly found my kindred spirits in books, I’ve related to their circumstances and I’ve realised there’s a lot more to contemporaries than I first thought.

always-and-forever-lara-jean-9781481430487_hrOf course, I also love the romance. Let’s face it, I’ve always been a romance fan- from classics to fantasies, one of the biggest draws for me in books is anything that will make my mushy heart beat. Particularly if it’s super cutesy and adorable- I can’t help myself!! So naturally, I’m drawn to a genre that is centred around the *feels*.


serpent kingThey can be SUPER EMOTIONAL in other ways as well– that’s the biggest reason I keep coming back to these books. They make me laugh, cry and everything in between. I thought that contemporary YA was all about the romance for a really long time- not so! They’re often packing a lot more under the surface.


list of cagesEspecially cos they’re grounded in real world issues. As tough as it can be to read sometimes, it’s also powerful and necessary sometimes to dip our toes into murkier topics. And contemporaries are an excellent way to do that- they provide a window into the darker parts of life, whilst not losing sight of the light.


ps i like youThat’s why contemporary YA can be incredibly fun at the same time. They often have a lightness of touch that may be missing from other genres. When I was younger, I’ll admit, I resisted the charm of a lot of these books, before realising that a little fluff can go a long way. I guess the heart wants what it wants 😉


love and gelatoNaturally, for a lot of the above reasons, they make for relaxing reads! It’s not hard to find an easy-read in the contemporary genre, that’s for sure. I started getting into the genre cos I needed to switch off- they may have ended up giving me so much more than that, but they’ve frequently fulfilled that promise as well. A lot of YA contemporaries have a great summer-feel- even if it’s wintry and bleak outside, I can tell you that a lot of the time reading them, I feel like I’m lounging on a hot beach somewhere living the dream 😉

orangutan on a beach relaxing0003

So do you love contemporary YA? Do you agree or disagree with any of my reasons? Let me know in the comments! 

66 thoughts on “Why I Fell in Love with Contemporary YA

  1. Ahh yes, all of these are reasons that I love contemporary! I love that you listed Isla and the Happily Ever After here, bc that was also a book that really made me really appreciate that genre in a new way, back when I read it years ago. And I love it when a contemporary is both super emotional AND really fun! The best of both worlds 😀

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  2. I don’t like too much when the age labeling of books puts some people off to pick up a certain book. It’s not because a book is deemed readable for a younger public that the remaining part of the reading public should refrain from reading it. Or worse; snub at it. A book is either well written or not. You can relate to it or not. Rowling’s Harry Potter series aimed at juvenile public and ended up to attract a much wider public.

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    1. I think that’s a really fair and good point. I definitely feel that way, cos I’ve never outgrown the YA genre (even though definitely not being a part of that demographic anymore). And I really do agree that books for a younger age group can be enjoyed by older readers 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m well into my adulthood lol but am a big YA reader in all except contemporary I just can’t get into it so I found your post super interesting. Funnily enough when I was YA myself I never read this genre steering more towards books aimed at adults. Maybe I will try and give a contemporary one a whirl just to see if anything’s changed for me 🥰

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  4. I do too for the exact same reasons you mentioned. Sometimes you just want to read an easy book to get into. One that you don’t have to work so hard to enjoy. YA Contemporary is that genre for me. Good points made! Nice post.

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  5. I love this post, because I always feel so alone in my love for YA contemporaries. You pretty much nailed all the reasons for me, and I adored every one of the books you featured up there. And YEAH for a another Isla fan (it was my favorite of the series too)

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  6. True confession time. I didn’t start reading YA until Twilight because I really thought that it was meant for a younger audience than me. Once I read some, I was hooked, mainly because it deals with life when huge decisions are being made and the world is coming alive. And finding a writer like Sarah Dessen just cemented that for me. Her writing is like poetry and she writes about issues and makes her novels come alive. I’d better stop writing now. 😀

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  7. I love YA contemporary romances if I’m in the right mood for them, but they all kind of run together for me. So unless there’s something extra special about the books, I tend to find them kind of blah, even if I enjoyed them.

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  8. These are all great reasons and I definitely need to check out some of these books. I feel like I’m ready to start reading more contemporary books but I’m squeamish about reading YA because sometimes the narrators are too… young/immature sounding.

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    1. Thank you! That’s great to hear 😀 Ah I can understand that- I think to be fair a lot of it can feel like it’s outside my age range, so I do relate there and have started reading more NA because of it (though I still like a lot of the more childish aspects of YA 😉 )

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  9. I think I’ve always been more drawn to the fantasy side of YA, a bit like you described you were, so I haven’t read much contemporary YA… though the few I have read wooed me with the romance, so I think that is the number one draw-card from your list for me 🙂 Probably what puts me off is the real world issues… that said, I’m sure if I read more of them I’d find ones I love (and I do watch and enjoy a lot of movies based on YA contemporaries!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can completely relate. And yeah, ultimately, what pulled me in was the promise of romance 😉 And I think that’s fair about the real world issues- it puts me off a lot of the time too- I have to be in exactly the right mood for that (and I also see the value in reading it, even if I prefer my worlds with dragons 😉 ) Ah I relate about the movies as well!

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  10. I go through periods when I love contemporary (YA or otherwise) and when all I want is a good fantasy romp. So… it depends? LOL, but I do agree that you have good reasons for liking contemporary YA.

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  11. Ahhh I love this post and I love all of your arguments here so much. I’m a contemporary lover at heart and it’s my favorite genre, for all of the reasons you mentioned here, they’re relatable, fun and emotional at times, and I don’t know, I’m just a marshmallow haha 🙂 wonderful post! 🙂

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  12. I’ve been enjoying the genre for the same reasons you do. I still don’t read a lot of it, but I found a couple cute ones and then a few with deeper issues but handled so well and made me feel things 🙂 I hope to keep finding ones to read and love. Awesome post!

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  13. i think your reasons are on target for most readers. I have moods for reading, and if the book is not the right one for that time, i put it aside. Otherwise, i’m all things ya )save for horror) and sad books). I’ll be checking some of the ones you mentioned.

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  14. You’re right, this is exactly why I don’t like contemporary YA!

    Mushy feels *bleurgh*, incredibly fun *rolls eyes*, summer vibes *puts on Joy Division tshirt and moodily applies black lipstick*.


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  15. I often find I struggle with YA contemporary the older I get. For one, I am not big on books where the romance is central to the plot line – in any audience range, not just YA – and I feel that in most of the YA contemporaries I’ve picked up, the romance is the focus. Do you have any YA contemporaries where the romance isn’t the focus?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I was very much a genre snob about contemporary YA, growing up it was fantasy all the way. But I do agree that, although fantasy is still my number 1 genre, it is nice and freeing to add a contemporary to my monthly reading. It helps break things up and add a nice easy read (even if the topics themselves can be quite emotional). I feel like contemporary YA is exploring many more themes than it used to, so I am growing to like it more and more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The post is just RELATABLE to a concerning degree. YA is just relaxing and somehow we can see ourselves in the story.
    Anyhow, the thing that really fascinates me is the doodles on your post. It’s just amazing!!!!


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