The most recommended contemporary fiction books

Who picked these books? Meet our 1,173 experts.

1,173 authors created a book list connected to contemporary fiction, and here are their favorite contemporary fiction books.
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Book cover of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Geoff Turner Author Of Archie's Mirror

From my list on magic, heroes, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer of children’s books, I’ve always been fascinated – not merely by the narrative, characters, and plot that form a story – but how ideas themselves spring to life and cross-pollinate to form some kind of creative endeavor, whether that’s a song, a poem, a book or anything else that provokes an emotional response. Rather than shying away from the question: "Where do you get your ideas?" I like to embrace it and search for answers myself. These books all set contexts through which the nature of imagination and ideas are explored alongside the tales they tell, and they remain an influence on the ideas I have, and the words I write.

Geoff's book list on magic, heroes, and rock ‘n’ roll

Geoff Turner Why did Geoff love this book?

A formative book from my childhood, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen kick-started my love of all things magic, heroic, and fantastical. Not only that, but the setting was close to where I grew up – these were locations I knew but viewed through a mythic lens. Loosely based on the legend of the Wizard of Alderley Edge, Alan Garner creates a fantasy world that feels so real as two children are pulled into an adventure where the very future of the world of men is on the line. It remains so influential on my own writing that I still return to the old dwarf caves of Fundinvale as an adult and enjoy the tale every bit as much as I did when I was a ten-year-old reading by torchlight under the duvet.

By Alan Garner,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Weirdstone of Brisingamen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time.

"Alan Garner's fiction is something special." - Neil Gaiman

When Colin and Susan are pursued by eerie creatures across Alderley Edge, they are saved by the Wizard. He takes them into the caves of Fundindelve, where he watches over the enchanted sleep of one hundred and forty knights.

But the heart of the magic that binds them - Firefrost, also known as the Weirdstone of Brisingamen - has been lost. The Wizard has been searching for the stone for more than 100 years, but the forces…


Book cover of Verity

Ivar Leon Menger Author Of What Mother Won't Tell Me

From my list on thriller books with strong female protagonists as well as strong twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

The dark side has fascinated me since I was a child. I've always had a love for the villains in movies and books. I particularly like Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers. Because the tension is not created through bloodshed but through twists and psychology. As a full-time thriller writer, I write my stories in such a way that my main character has to overcome the dangers on their own, mostly without the help of the police. I live in Germany, but I grew up with stories from the USA. If you like stories with a twist, feel free to check out my recommendations, which also feature two German authors.

Ivar's book list on thriller books with strong female protagonists as well as strong twists

Ivar Leon Menger Why did Ivar love this book?

This was my first book by Colleen Hover because the blurb immediately appealed to me.

love stories about female writers. I immediately sympathized with her unsuccessful career and was happy that she received an exciting job offer. And then immediate skepticism that everything couldn't be going smoothly there. The fear came slowly and made me look ever deeper into the abyss.

I read the book before going to sleep, which meant I stayed up late.

By Colleen Hoover,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Verity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 3 MILLION COPIES SOLD - THE NO.1 BESTSELLER AND TIKTOK SENSATION, FROM THE AUTHOR OF IT ENDS WITH US
Are you ready to stay up all night? Rebecca meets Gone Girl in this shocking, unpredictable thriller with a twist that will leave you reeling . . .

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the…


Book cover of Pale Demon

Olga Mecking Author Of Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

From Olga's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Journalist Translator Mother Multilingual

Olga's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Olga Mecking Why did Olga love this book?

Urban fantasy is quickly becoming my favorite fantasy subgenre, and this is especially the case with Kim Harrison’s The Hollows.

Pale Demon is book 9 of the series, but I think it’s the best one so far. The series focuses on bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. Rachel thinks she’s a witch but in Pale Demon the truth of what Rachel truly is finally comes out, and wow, I really did not see that coming. This is certainly a turning point for Rachel and her friends, the living vampire Ivy and the pixy Jenks.

Sure, you’ll have to go through all of the previous books in the series, but I promise it’s going to be worth your while. I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store for Rachel.

By Kim Harrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pale Demon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I wouldn’t miss a Kim Harrison book for anything."—Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels

New York Times bestselling urban fantasy superstar Kim Harrison is back with Pale Demon—her ninth electrifying adventure featuring contemporary witch Rachel Morgan. This time Rachel's leaving the Hollows, on a cross-country road trip with a pixy, an elf, and a vampire, as she races to clear her blackened name at a California witches' convention in order to avoid an eternity of torment at the claws of a soul-devouring demon. Pale Demon is Kim Harrison at her gothic best—combining mystery, action, intrigue, paranormal romance, and…


Bailey and the CEO: A Corporate Love Story

By Amy Q. Barker,

Book cover of Bailey and the CEO: A Corporate Love Story

Amy Q. Barker Author Of Lap Baby

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Nature lover Park ranger wanna be Best Nana ever

Amy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A contemporary romance novel about second chances, love in the workplace, and balancing single parenthood with a career. Bailey Grant and Fox Goodman have given up on love. They’re working hard, they’re raising kids—romance is the last thing on their minds. Until they get seated next to each other on a flight and realize they have more in common than just the company where they work.

But can a VP date the CEO? How will they make it work? Wait and see how sparks fly in this uplifting, feel-good, dual-narrative romantic read!

Bailey and the CEO: A Corporate Love Story

By Amy Q. Barker,

What is this book about?

Bailey
Even from afar, you could feel it: the man's ever-present, effortless charm, looks, and for lack of a better word, swagger.
Everyone—and by everyone, I meant every female at Havelin—had speculated about his personal life. We all knew he had two sons, but what about a wife?
Not that I cared.
I was VP of Quality, a widow, and a mother raising two teenage daughters. Love was the last thing on my mind.

Fox
She was staggeringly beautiful.
And she didn’t know it. Not even in the slightest. Not a clue.
I’d never felt like this before.
Even more…


Book cover of The House by the Sea

Anna Valencia Author Of The Chestnut House

From my list on transporting you to the magic of Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I may be English by birth, but my soul has always felt Italian! I have lived and worked in Italy for many years, first in Rome, then Milan, and finally Tuscany when we fell in love with an abandoned farmhouse. I wrote The Chestnut House while we were living in the mountains of the Garfagnana in northern Tuscany, inspired by the wartime stories our neighbours shared with us. For me Italy is the perfect country—great weather, food, wine, language, and culture! I love both reading about it, and writing about it. I hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have!

Anna's book list on transporting you to the magic of Italy

Anna Valencia Why did Anna love this book?

Set in both Devon and Tuscany—this is my perfect book! I loved the historic story of Floriana growing up near the beautiful villa in Tuscany, and it tied in so well with the modern-day story as well. As always Santa’s books are well crafted and a total joy to read, transporting you to the locations with her evocative descriptions. This makes a fabulous holiday read, and I have recommended it to many family and friends.

By Santa Montefiore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The House by the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An irresistibly compelling from the internationally bestselling author Ten-year-old Floriana is captivated by the beauty of the magnificent Tuscan villa that overlooks the sea just outside her small village. She likes to spy from the crumbling wall into the gardens, and imagine that one day she'll escape her meagre existence and live there. One day, Dante, the son of the villa's powerful industrialist owner, invites her inside. From that moment on Floriana knows that her destiny is there, with him. But as they grow up they cross an unseen line, jeopardising the very thing they hold most dear. Decades later…


Book cover of Sea of Rust

T.S. Beier Author Of What Branches Grow

From my list on quests through a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve clocked so many hours on Fallout 3 and New Vegas (and, less so, on Fallout 4) that it’s disgusting, but my real love of wastelands began with T.S. Eliot. His poem (The Waste Land), with its evocative imagery, fascinated me in university. While not about a literal wasteland, it inspired me to seek out stories of that vein. I even have a tattoo with a line from it! What Branches Grow was the focus of my grad certificate in creative writing and has won two awards. I am a book reviewer, writer at PostApocalypticMedia.com, and the author of the Burnt Ship space opera trilogy. 

T.S.'s book list on quests through a post-apocalyptic wasteland

T.S. Beier Why did T.S. love this book?

I love this novel. I read it well after my own came out, but the strong, badass, stoic female main character reminded me a lot of Delia from What Branches Grow (despite Brittle being a robot). The often dark and gritty scenes interspersed with moments of emotion and laugh-out-loud absurd humour turned a story that could have been depressing into one that was a helluva lot of fun. The raiders in this novel also fit the trope in the same homage to Mad Max/Fallout that mine do in What Branches Grow, albeit in a way I didn’t expect. The novel is also a quest through the wasteland with a ragtag group that culminates in a final battle, which is a similar trajectory to my novel (and a plotfline in this genre I very much enjoy).

By Robert C. Cargill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sea of Rust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2018
One of Financial Times' Best Books of 2017

'SEA OF RUST is a 40-megaton cruise missile of a novel - it'll blow you away and lay waste to your heart . . . visceral, relentless, breathtaking' Joe Hill, Sunday Times bestselling author

************

An action-packed post-apocalyptic thriller from the screenwriter of Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE

HUMANKIND IS EXTINCT.

Wiped out in a global uprising by the very machines made to serve them. Now the world is controlled by OWIs - vast mainframes that have assimilated the minds of millions of robots.

But not…


Book cover of Break the Fall

Emma Kress Author Of Dangerous Play

From my list on YA featuring badass sporty girls.

Why am I passionate about this?

I adore books about sporty badass girls. Yet, when I first began to write Dangerous Play, there were few young-adult novels featuring fierce sporty girls. Of those, there were fewer which portrayed the powerful friendships that can emerge on girls’ sports teams. I want to read and write about girls who are defined by more than their love interests, who are dogged in the pursuit of their goals. In a world that so often judges girls by how their bodies look, sports offers an arena in which girls can view and value their bodies in an alternative way. And who doesn’t love to cheer for someone who beats the odds? 

Emma's book list on YA featuring badass sporty girls

Emma Kress Why did Emma love this book?

I inhaled Break the Fall, set in the world of elite gymnastics. After an injury, Audrey is not only ready to return to gymnastics but does the impossible thing of qualifying for the Olympics. Finally, she’s on the cusp of achieving all that she’s dreamed of and trained for all these years. Everything unravels, however, when their coach is accused of sexual assault. Iacopelli does a gorgeous job capturing all of the highs and lows of this story, as well as the intensity of elite athletics. While we don’t typically think of gymnastics as a team sport, I was especially appreciative of the way Iacopelli showed the girls standing up for each other as a team, which is rare in YA girls’ sports books. 

By Jennifer Iacopelli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Break the Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fiercely told survivorship novel about one girl's determination to push her body to win gold at the Olympics, and the power of uniting as women to speak out.

The only thing seventeen-year-old Audrey Lee dreams about is swinging her way to Olympic glory. Nothing is going to stop her, not even the agony in her back. Every spasm and ache will be worth it once she has that gold medal around her neck.

But none of her training prepares her for her coach being led away in handcuffs, accused by a fellow gymnast of the unthinkable. No one knows…


Book cover of Threadneedle

Taylor Munsell Author Of Touch of Death

From my list on embracing the dark.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by stories that use darkness in plot and character growth. As a former funeral director, I find stories with death—whether it’s the power of death, the death of a loved one, or something similar—to be really poignant. I always write books that embrace the darkness, and I love to see how characters come out on the other side. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do!

Taylor's book list on embracing the dark

Taylor Munsell Why did Taylor love this book?

When I tell you I gasped at the end of this book, I am not exaggerating. I am not one to be surprised by books, but this one kept me guessing the entire time.

I was surprised multiple times throughout the book, and the complicated relationship between Anna and her aunt is fascinating from the very first page. I also really loved the worldbuilding and magic system as it is expertly woven into the story.

I find that many fantasy books have a magic system that is just there, but this one drives the plot.

By Cari Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Threadneedle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The International Bestseller Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.

'Magic and love. Love and magic. They destroy everything in the end ...'

Anna's Aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences.

Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever.

Until she meets Effie and Attis.

They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose…


Book cover of Bacchanal

Shannon Fay Author Of Innate Magic

From my list on fantasy novels that will make you look at history in a new way.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer and also a history nerd. I love historical fiction—learning about the past through a story just makes the world come alive in a way that non-fiction doesn’t. As I child, I was entranced by middle-grade historical novels like The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and The Shakespeare Stealer. But I also love fantasy novels and how they use magic to make the truths of our world bigger and bolder, turning the elephant in the room into a dragon that can’t be ignored. Mixing history and fantasy together is my book version of peanut butter and chocolate.

Shannon's book list on fantasy novels that will make you look at history in a new way

Shannon Fay Why did Shannon love this book?

I read this book during the summer of 2021 when a lot of pandemic restrictions were still in place, and I wasn’t going anywhere. Reading Bacchanal made me feel like I was on a road trip, traveling across the dusty American southwest in the 1930s.

Veronica G. Henry’s debut features a traveling carnival making its way across middle America during the Great Depression. But the carnival isn’t all fun and games—behind the scenes, a hungry demon runs the show, and Liza might be in danger of becoming the creature’s next meal.

Bacchanal features a cast of interesting humans and demons, and the book really shines when it showcases real-life personages such as Stephanie St. Clair, a Black crime boss in 1920s Harlem. I love how danger lurks around every corner in this novel, with the traveling carnival offering up a mix of scares and delights.   

By Veronica G. Henry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bacchanal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival's newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come.

Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It's a gift for communicating with animals. To some, she's a magical tender. To others, a she-devil. To a talent prospector, she's a crowd-drawing oddity. And the Bacchanal Carnival is Eliza's ticket out of the swamp…


Book cover of Kafka on the Shore

Bobby Palmer Author Of Small Hours

From my list on talking animals for grown ups.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a British author who has always had a fascination with magical realism and novels that blend the serious with the strange. For that reason, though I write literary fiction for adults, I take so much of my inspiration from children’s literature. There’s something so simple about how kids’ books stitch the extraordinary into the every day without having to overexplain things. I now live not far from the forest that inspired A. A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood, and my latest novel is set in and inspired by this part of rural England–with all the mystery and magic that a trip into the woods entails.

Bobby's book list on talking animals for grown ups

Bobby Palmer Why did Bobby love this book?

Murakami is a magical realist genius, and this book is him at his mystifying, dream-like best. Expect otherworldly portals, sexually voracious ghosts, woodlands afflicted by mysterious fainting episodes, and, of course, an entire cast of talking cats.

What amazes me about Murakami’s writing is his ability to transfuse the mundane with the truly magical and to avoid all whimsy–even when writing about something as inherently whimsical as talking cats.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Kafka on the Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A stunning work of art that bears no comparisons" the New York Observer wrote of Haruki Murakami's masterpiece, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. In its playful stretching of the limits of the real world, his magnificent new novel, Kafka on the Shore is every bit as bewitching and ambitious. The narrative follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his highly simplified life suddenly overturned. Their parallel odysseys - as…


Book cover of The Nature of Witches

Lauren James Author Of Green Rising

From my list on uplifting climate fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels. She is also a Creative Writing lecturer, freelance editor, screenwriter, and the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League. She was born in 1992 and has a Master's degree from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. 

Lauren's book list on uplifting climate fiction

Lauren James Why did Lauren love this book?

In a world where witches control the climate and are losing control as the weather grows more erratic, a once-in-a-generation witch with the magic of all seasons is the only one who can save earth from destruction. But as her power grows, it targets and kills those closest to her, and when she falls in love with her training partner, she's forced to choose between her power, her love, and saving the earth.

By Rachel Griffin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Nature of Witches as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

An Instant New York Times Bestseller
In a world where witches control the climate and are losing control as the weather grows more erratic, a once-in-a-generation witch with the magic of all seasons is the only one who can save earth from destruction. But as her power grows, it targets and kills those closest to her, and when she falls in love with her training partner, she's forced to choose between her power, her love, and saving the earth.
* Featuring an exclusive, flower-stamped case, only available on the first print run!
For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, but…