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10 Must-Read Contemporaries for Winter Break

When you think “winter break”, what comes to mind? More often than not, most of my university friends don’t envision being curled up in a cozy nook with the company of a good book. However, I bet the idea of reading in warm soft socks, enveloped by a blanket, with a cup of hot chocolate sounds appealing to most. Unfortunately, December is often associated with nothing but an overwhelming amount of exams, lecture notes and assignments. Reclaim your winter break by picking up a book for your own enjoyment! Any of these novels could also be great additions to your holiday list. After all, you deserve a gift to celebrate all your hard work this semester.

A good place to kick off your reading adventure is a contemporary novel. There’s something for everyone in this corner of the book universe. The reality is contemporary novels aren’t just one thing; there’s a wide variety of stories that fit under this genre’s umbrella.

Unsure of where to start? Don’t worry! Here’s a list of contemporary highlights that will help guide you this winter break. Whether you’re looking for a lighthearted romance or a hard-hitting story about self-discovery, there’s at least one story on this list that will speak to your heart.

1.  My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories  

If you’re a sucker for a heartwarming holiday romance, this collection of short stories has everything you’re looking for. Fall in love with twelve different couples as they navigate their attractions while accompanied by falling snow. Each story is written by best-selling young adult writers who each showcase their varying styles. What better time to read this book than now, just in time for the holidays! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice and/or New Year’s Eve, there’s something in this book for everyone.

2.     To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Have you ever had a crush so strong you didn’t know what to do about it? Jenny Han captures this feeling perfectly in her heartwarming novel about a girl named Lara Jean. Every time Lara Jean has a crush on a boy, she writes him a love letter with all the feelings she would never admit to in person. But, once she’s done, she hides the letters away in her secret hat box, never to be touched again. However, what will happen when her love letters are mysteriously sent out? Suddenly Lara Jean’s hypothetical love life becomes a reality.

Han’s story has also been recently made into a film. So, grab a bag of popcorn and turn on Netflix if you’re like me and can’t get enough of Lara Jean and her love letters.

3.     Anna and the French Kiss

I know what you’re thinking; that title has cheesy romance written all over it. And you know what, that’s exactly what it is! Find yourself charmed by this book that fulfills the perfect love story we’ve all daydreamed about. Stephanie Perkins’ novel captures young love amongst the picturesque backdrop of Paris. The novel follows 17-year-old Anna as she navigates her unwanted year abroad in France. However, Anna soon learns that with the company of a handsome classmate, Étienne St. Clair, Paris may not be so bad after all.

4.     Since You’ve Been Gone

Love a good “best friend goes missing” mystery paired with a finding yourself story? Then click “add to cart” right now for Morgan Matson’s summer novel. Emily’s best friend Sloane has recently gone missing, leaving nothing behind but a mysterious to-do list. Unfortunately for Emily, she’s an introvert and has no intention of completing “Number 1: Kiss a Stranger” or “Number 2: Go skinny dipping”. But for some reason, Emily can’t shake the feeling that completing this list might make Sloane come back. With the help of her new friend Frank Porter, Emily finds herself on track to having her most eventful summer yet.

5.     Eleanor & Park

The moment Eleanor’s red hair waltzed into Park’s world, his life was changed forever. This story about two star-crossed misfits draws in readers and leaves them feeling deeply moved. Watch as Eleanor and Park navigate a modern Romeo and Juliet love story by tackling their clashing family dynamics. Find yourself adoring the 1986 setting and all its vintage novelties such as mix tapes and printed comic books. Throughout her story, Rainbow Rowell reminds us what it feels like to have a first love.

6.     Paper Towns

What would you do if your childhood crush climbed into your window one night? Quinten Jacobsen answers this question in John Green’s 2008 novel. This awesome coming of age story follows Quinten and his wild night with Margot Roth Spiegelman, the girl of his dreams. Green continues to delight readers by capturing the feeling of being young and in high school. Quinten is soon faced with the stark discovery that things may not always be how you once imagined them to be.

If you love this story, you’re in luck! Green’s novel was recently adapted into a film in 2015. So press “rent now” on Google Play or YouTube if you want to see Quinten and Margot’s nightly shenanigans right before your eyes.

7.     Finding Audrey

With mental health awareness being so prevalent in the world these days, Sophie Kinsella’s novel could be a topical contemporary to add to your shelf. Meet Audrey, who wears dark sunglasses all the time and almost never leaves her house. Audrey finds comfort in her own little world and enjoys not having to face her biggest fear: eye contact. But one day, when a boy named Linus pops into her life, Audrey finds herself questioning whether socializing is as bad as she’s always feared. Throughout her novel, Kinsella tells the inspiring tale of a young woman facing her social anxiety and beginning her path to recovery.

8.     The Selection

Imagine The Bachelor, but as a royal edition: what could go wrong? Get swept up in Kiera Cass’ world of gorgeous gowns and glittering jewels and come along with America Singer as she becomes one of the 35 “selected”. However, America has just recently broken up with her first love, Aspen, and isn’t ready to date anyone, let alone a prince … or is she?

9.     Star-Crossed

For anyone who’s into horoscopes and astrology, Minnie Darke’s love story between Justine and Nick is a must-read. Justine writes for the Alexandrea Park Star and soon learns that Nick reads the horoscope section in order to guide him through life. Join Justine as she figures out the trials and tribulations of writing horoscopes for the boy that she likes to get him to notice her. 

10.     Again, but Better

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but young-adult novels aren’t just for teenagers. These books have depth, topical themes, and relatable protagonists. Trust me when I say that once you get sucked in, you’re hooked. Christine Riccio’s novel provides a unique spin for older readers with her 20-year-old protagonist Shane. Come along with Shane as she navigates her year abroad in London and tries to get the college experience she feels she’s missed out on. Watch as she makes her first attempts at gaining friends, pursuing love and exploring all that Europe has to offer.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start reading these beloved contemporaries. Whether that’s finding a copy at your local library, taking a trip to Indigo, ordering them through Amazon, or adding them to your Christmas/Hanukkah list, take action! Believe me, your winter break will be over before you know it. Just think about it, within a few weeks, these stories could be all yours for the holiday season. 

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Emily Mason

Western '22

Emily is a fourth year student at Western pursuing an Honours Specialization in Creative Writing and English, Language & Literature. This is her second year as a writer for Her Campus Western. She has a passion for writing and aspires to take on journalism as her career. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, watching Friends, and singing to Disney songs in her car.
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