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Jen's YA Contemporary Book Bucket List
Bestselling YA contemporary novel covers

Do you like reading modern, romantic love stories like The Fault in Our Stars or the If I Stay series? If you're looking for recommendations for an original novel with similar appeal, whether for just yourself or for your entire book club, here's my YA Contemporary Book Bucket List. Although these young adult fiction novels are great for teenagers, they also appeal to adults. Some of these books are mysteries full of suspense, twists, and turns. Most include exciting romance. All feature emotional journeys of great teen characters.

The works of literature featured below range from popular five-star novels from New York Times or USA Today best selling authors to hot new indie releases that have reached the top 100, top 10, and even the #1 spot on Amazon best seller lists. All of these best sellers are fantastic and worth the read. They also make perfect gifts!

Which ones are you adding to your must-read Book Bucket List?

P.S. If you're a member of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, the top 4 ebooks below are FREE to read!

You can also visit my YA Dystopian Book Bucket List and my YA Book Bucket List OR you can
go on a blind date with a YA book OR check out these descriptions of great YA books in ten words or less.!


Books to add to your bucket list ...

180 seconds book cover Jessica Park 180 Seconds
By Jessica Park

Two college students spend 180 seconds together and it changes their lives.

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything.

One afternoon during her third year at college, Allison is roped into a social experiment where she is forced to interact with dreamy social media star Esben Baylor for 180 seconds.

The intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love. 
The Simulation Game cover The Simulation Game
by J.W. Lynne

Their lives are about to change forever.

Sixteen-year-old Lois is about to embark on a simulated lunar mission with her mom, dad, and thirteen-year-old sister, hoping to win a life-changing prize. They will be locked up with nine other families in a state-of-the-art bunker, where their every move will be judged by anonymous evaluators. Families that don’t have what it takes will be eliminated.

Lois thought that being eliminated from the competition was the worst thing that could happen to her.

She was dead wrong.
More Than This cover More Than This
by Jay McLean

A girl's world is torn apart and a stranger wants to help her put it back together.

When Mikayla imagined her prom night, she envisioned a fairy-tale evening full of romance. So when betrayal and tragedy come in quick succession, Mikayla is completely destroyed. Suddenly, everything she loved and everyone she relied on are tragically, irrevocably gone.

Jake, a handsome stanger, happens to witness her loss. With no one to turn to, Mikayla is forced to depend on Jake. Despite their growing closeness and intense chemistry, Mikayla tries to keep her distance and protect her heart. As he does everything in his power to win her trust, Mikayla must choose between remaining alone or letting love in. 
Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan Reason to Breathe
by Rebecca Donovan

An abused teen girl finds love.

In the affluent town of Weslyn, Connecticut, where most people worry about what to be seen in and who to be seen with, Emma Thomas would rather not be seen at all. She’s more concerned with feigning perfection—pulling down her sleeves to conceal the bruises, not wanting anyone to know how far from perfect her life truly is. Without expecting it, she finds love. It challenges her to recognize her own worth―at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she’s desperate to hide.
Turtles All the Way Down Turtles All the Way Down
by John Green

A teen girl suffering from anxiety disorder goes on a mission.

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

Two teens (a girl and a boy) fall in love. They both have cancer.

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl cover Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews

A high-school senior is forced to befriend a girl who is dying of cancer.

It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.
This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life. 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky

A teen boy copes with first love, the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness.

Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
Before I Fall cover Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver

A teen experiences multiple versions of the last day of her life.

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined. 
Looking for Alaska by John Green Looking for Alaska
by John Green

A boy falls in love with a self-destructive girl at his boarding school.

Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. 
If I Stay by Gayle Forman If I Stay
by Gayle Forman

A teen girl who is critically injured in a car accident is caught between life and death.

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. 
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

A teenage boy discovers a mysterious and dangerous place.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher

A teen boy learns that there are thirteen reasons why a girl at his school decided to end her life, and he is one of them.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
  (Page last updated in February 2022)