The best YA books about first love, discovering yourself, and all that good stuff

Jenn P. Nguyen Author Of Fake It Till You Break It
By Jenn P. Nguyen

Who am I?

As a kid, I’ve always loved reading romances, even if it meant spending my recesses in the library and reading through lunchtime. This resulted in my 6th-grade teacher giving me the weirdest look when she caught me reading a romance at school. When I started writing, I wrote a couple of different genres to test out, but YA contemporary romances were always the ones that stuck with me. I loved writing about the fluttery feelings of first love and the complexities of an uncertain future. It also helps that I met my husband, the love of my life, in high school so I’ll always have a soft spot for books that make me feel that way again.


I wrote...

Fake It Till You Break It

By Jenn P. Nguyen,

Book cover of Fake It Till You Break It

What is my book about?

Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together. After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time―and then they’ll be free.

It’s the perfect plan - except that it turns out maybe Mia and Jake don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…

The books I picked & why

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Anna and the French Kiss

By Stephanie Perkins,

Book cover of Anna and the French Kiss

Why this book?

Stephanie Perkins is one of my favorite YA authors. With the perfect touch of first love romance and friendship in magical Paris, Anna and the French Kiss never fails to bring a smile to my face no matter how often I reread it. Which is pretty often. Sometimes I pick up this book when I’m feeling stuck on my writing to get inspired again. 

On a side note, I met Stephanie Perkins at a convention years ago and she was an absolute sweetheart despite the fact that I pretty much fangirled all over her. 


A Taste for Love

By Jennifer Yen,

Book cover of A Taste for Love

Why this book?

I picked up A Taste for Love while I was browsing the aisles at Barnes and Noble and the description and gorgeous cover immediately caught my eye. Sometimes it is hard to rewrite a classic story and make it your own, but Jennifer Yen does it beautifully here. I completely forgot that it was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice as I was swept away in Liza’s life and all the laugh-out-loud antics of her family and friends. I’m also a huge fan of Top Chef so all the cooking in this book only made me hungry for more.  


Salaam, with Love

By Sara Sharaf Beg,

Book cover of Salaam, with Love

Why this book?

My favorite genre to read and write is romance, but there are different levels to them. I got the honor to read Salaam, With Love before it came out and although the romance in here is more subtle and sweet, this book is definitely about loving yourself. About discovering who you are and being proud of where you’re from. Although our lives and cultures are different, I can definitely relate to Dua’s journey of self-discovery and was rooting for her every step of the way. 


10 Blind Dates

By Ashley Elston,

Book cover of 10 Blind Dates

Why this book?

Coming from a huge family (and I mean 50+ people), I loved Sophie’s family and their hilarious chaos. Sometimes it was a little hard to remember all the relatives and their names, but that was probably because I was zooming through this book. I’m pretty sure I finished it in an entire sitting as I neglected my family. The only times I stopped were to laugh at some of the crazy, but fun-loving dates that Sophie went through. This is a perfect Christmas book as I’m pretty sure my heart swelled as I read it.


The Perfect Escape

By Suzanne Park,

Book cover of The Perfect Escape

Why this book?

I have an odd fascination with zombies. Movies, shows, books, I love them all. I also know that I would never survive an actual zombie apocalypse because I have no survivor skills and my cardio sucks. Luckily, The Perfect Escape brings my love for all of that into a great YA rom-com. But it’s not all about the zombies and survival as the main characters, Nate and Kate, struggle with their own families and loves. It was a much deeper book than I expected, but it’s a great way to escape from your life for a few hours. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in love, survival, and Christmas?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about love, survival, and Christmas.

Love Explore 142 books about love
Survival Explore 98 books about survival
Christmas Explore 70 books about Christmas

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Grace Year, These Broken Stars: A Starbound Novel, and Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger if you like this list.