TOP TEN TUESDAY: ALL TIME Favorite Contemporary Books

This weekly meme was created by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme is  Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre

I had a look at my Goodreads shelf and it seems that a lot of my five-star reads are contemporary, so I decided to give this genre a better look and create my all time favourite contemporary books list.


The Casual Vacancy
by J.K. Rowling

13497818Pub Date: 2012

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A BIG NOVEL ABOUT A SMALL TOWN …

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858Pub Date: 2015

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When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Americanah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

20939933Pub Date: 2014

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From the award-winning author of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun,’ a powerful story of love, race and identity.

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?

Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, ‘Americanah’ is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world.

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt

17333223Pub date: 2013

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It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
by Adelle Waldman

16045140Pub Date: 2013

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Writer Nate Piven’s star is rising. After several lean and striving years, he has his pick of both magazine assignments and women: Juliet, the hotshot business reporter; Elisa, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, now friend; and Hannah, “almost universally regarded as nice and smart, or smart and nice,” who holds her own in conversation with his friends. When one relationship grows more serious, Nate is forced to consider what it is he really wants.

In Nate’s 21st-century literary world, wit and conversation are not at all dead. Is romance? Novelist Adelle Waldman plunges into the psyche of a flawed, sometimes infuriating modern man–one who thinks of himself as beyond superficial judgment, yet constantly struggles with his own status anxiety, who is drawn to women, yet has a habit of letting them down in ways that may just make him an emblem of our times. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is a tale of one young man’s search for happiness–and an inside look at how he really thinks about women, sex and love.

How to Build a Girl
by Caitlin Moran

18657622Pub Date: 2014

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What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes – and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes – but without the dying young bit.

By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease, with a soundtrack by My Bloody Valentine and Happy Mondays. As beautiful as it is funny, How To Build a Girl is a brilliant coming-of-age novel in DMs and ripped tights, that captures perfectly the terror and joy of trying to discover exactly who it is you are going to be.

The Virgin Suicides
by Jeffrey Eugenides

10956Pub Date: 2012

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The haunting, humorous and tender story of the brief lives of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters, The Virgin Suicides, now a major film, is Jeffrey Eugenides’s classic debut novel.

The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshipped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters’ breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear.

The Nest
by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

25781157Pub Date: 2016

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A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes

15507958Pub Date: 2012

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Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides

2187Pub Date: 2002

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Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.


Anything from my list that you found interesting? Did you read any of those books? What books would you add to this list – recommendations always welcome!


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32 thoughts on “TOP TEN TUESDAY: ALL TIME Favorite Contemporary Books

  1. Kate W says:

    Excellent list. I’ve read lots of these (favourites being A Little Life and The Goldfinch) – there’s one that I haven’t read that I’m desperate for – The Nest. I’ve also got Middlesex but haven’t read it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ola says:

      The Nest has a very mixed reviews, but I really enjoyed the story. I think that if we share love for A Little Life and The Goldfinch, then I think you’ll enjoy The Nest as much as I did. The Nest is not as good as those two though, but still great read.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Paige @ Paige's Pages says:

    Awesome roundup Ola! I adore Jeffrey Eugenides too – the rawness in his writing is intoxicating! I just read The Virgins by Pamela Erens, which sadly felt like it was trying to copy The Virgin Suicides’ unique narrative style. It fell so flat for me, which was so disappointing. It did remind me, however, just how fresh, gritty, and impactful Eugenides’ writing is.

    Like

  3. Cozynookbks says:

    Excellent list!! I’ve seen most of these books advertised here and there, but it’s great seeing them all in one place so I can have the list at the ready. I have Me Before You so I’ll probably start with that one when I’ve cleared my “to be reviewed” books. The Goldfinch and The Nest sound really interesting to me.
    I read a book that I loved called Now and Then Friends by Kate Hewitt. I love her books. It’s book 2 in a series but could be read alone.

    Like

  4. Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews says:

    I’m not a huge fan of contemporaries, but there’s quiet a few on this list that I want to read! I especially want to get to The Virgin Suicides. I’ve had it on my shelf for so long too and I loved the movie. I just borrowed Americanah from the library and am hoping to get to it before the due date!

    Like

    • Ola says:

      The Virgin Suicides is beautiful, the writing is exquisite. I never read anything like that book. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
      Make sure to read Americanah before its due date, you won’t regret it 🙂

      Like

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