When I think of books, inevitably, a contemporary fiction novel pops into my head. Contemporary fiction books is the heart of reading with so many amazing subgenres to choose from.
So whether you like books about royals, books about wine, or just want to read a feel-good book, we have over 80 amazing contemporary fiction books on this ultimate list. We have read each one. So let us know if there are books you think we need to add to this list.
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Ultimate List of Contemporary Fiction
Best of 2022 // Celebrity Book Club // Beach Reads // British Books // Feel-Good Books // Women in Work Place // Tea and Wine // Canadian Authors // Circus and Carnival // Books about books // Book Clubs // Long Books // Jewelry Books // Jane Austen Retellings // Scottish Books // Christmas // Mental Illness // Magical Realism // Japan // Faux Celebrity // Royal Reads // Addiction // Wedding // Immigration //Women in Politics // Second Chance // Books About Friendship
Best Contemporary Fiction of 2023
All the Lonely People is on our list of Books Like A Man Called Ove and was a 5-star read. In this book, Jess finds her mother’s set of encyclopedias while emptying her house after her mother’s death.
When trying to find the encyclopedias, a new home, she comes across a curious museum called The Museum of Ordinary People. I’ve never read a book quite like this one. The museum was so clever and wonderful. I wish it existed for me to visit in real life.
Where do I even start with this amazing magical realism book? When Alice’s best friend has yet another horrible breakup, Alice wants to make her feel better by writing her a letter, the way she used to when they were young. Instead, she finds herself writing a story and as if by magic, Gabby meets the man of her dreams.
Soon, Alice is writing stories for everyone as her gift pours from her. When she is sent a letter that brings her to a mysterious mansion, she meets Madeline who wants to have a special story written for her. Alice is forced to deal with her own past in order to move forward. This is one of the contemporary fiction books for book clubs we have read and absolutely loved. It is perfect for Fiction Books about Writers and a perfect book for summer reads 2023.
Best Contemporary Fiction of 2022
I want to scream from the rooftops about this family drama contemporary fiction set over the course of the lives of the Oppenheimer family. The Oppenheimer triplets have been averse to each other since they were born. On the brink of escaping to the freedom of college, their parents decide to have a fourth child.
Soon secrets are unraveling, choices are called into question, and sibling rivalry reaches a crescendo. This character-driven story is truly marvelous. Perfect for fans of Ann Patchett, Clare Lombardo, and family saga books.
The mayor of the Italian town needs money to repair the town’s pipes, so he hatches a plot to drum up business in town by saying a famous movie star is coming to make a movie.
The next thing he knows, he’s having to make an actual movie starring the locals with no experience and the craziest script while keeping up the ruse that the celebrity is coming.
I laughed so hard at scenes in this comedic feel-good book that I woke up my sleeping husband. This was a charming book set in Italy and the perfect vacation read. It is a five star contemporary fiction book.
A Read With Jenna Pick for February 2022
I absolutely loved this contemporary fiction which is a story about love, family, and acceptance. It captured me from the first page with the story and the writing.
When Eleanor Bennett dies, she leaves a voice recording for her two children Benny and Byron. She wants to tell them things about her life that she could not say when she was alive.
While listening to their mother’s story, Byron and Benny learn about their mother, their family, and themselves. They try to piece their relationship back together. The novel looks at everyone’s life in the present and in the past, but in its essence, is a book about motherhood.
There is a secondary character who is also a professional swimmer, making this a perfect story for our books about women in sports. If you are looking for books for book clubs, this is sure to be a winner.
For more books like these, check out our list of best books of 2022
Celebrity Book Club Contemporary Fiction
March 2023 Good Morning America Book Club Pick
I loved this family drama book about the blue-blooded Stockton family, told from the perspective of sisters, Darley and Georgiana, and their sister-in-law, Sasha.
Each woman has her own struggles with navigating life in the Stockton family. Sasha, a middle-class artist feels like an unwelcomed outsider. Darley struggles with living up to the Stockton family name after she gave up her identity to embrace motherhood. Georgiana, the youngest, needs to grow up and become a capable adult!
Each family member struggles on their own and within the family dynamic in this wonderful contemporary fiction. Each sibling faces dramatic struggles from sick parents to committing adultery to a lost job. I loved seeing how they each grew throughout this book for book clubs and ultimately how they strengthened their familial bond.
While the book had enough meat for me to get invested, it also had glimpses of the whimsy of the monied elite. The matriarch of this family in particular is a hoot! We had to include this book in our list of beach reads 2023 and the best contemporary fiction books of 2023.
January 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick
Thanks to HMH Books and Libro
And then there was the whole Wolf of Wall Street portion that literally had me picturing Leo screaming on the trading room floor. This contemporary fiction was both entertaining and thought-provoking.
Good Morning America Book Club December 2021 Pick
I DEVOURED this contemporary fiction story of a billionaire music mogul who releases her death announcement 2 days early so she can read her own end-of-life articles.
The best part was that during the snowstorm that trapped her family with her at the ski chalet, she neglected to tell them about her terminal illness and her harebrained scheme.
We get to see the impact the decision has on her family as well as get a look at her colorful life before her cancer diagnosis. This family saga book about motherhood was so compelling.
August 2021 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
Wow. This is one of the best books I’ve listened to this year, and yes, I recommend it on audio for a few reasons. We absolutely love this Oprah Book Club Pick
First, the different narrators help tell this dual-timeline contemporary fiction. Through one narrator, we learn about Ailey’s life as an African American woman in the 20th century. The other narrator tells the story of the female ancestors of Ailey’s going all the way back to her Indigenous, black, and white relatives from two centuries earlier.
Through Ailey and her ancestors, the weight of what it means to be a black woman in America means. The sacrifices, injustices, struggles, and harassment endured by Ailey and her kin in the present day and the past are explored with a depth so real, I forgot it was a fictional story at times.
The second reason this book is great on audio? It’s LONG. It clocks in at over 800 pages or almost 30hrs of audiobook time. The narrators sucked me in and those 30 hrs flew by.
I will say, this book made me consider my White Privilege in a way no non-fiction book could have. It’s a heavy story, but very worth the read and a great book for book clubs.
March 2022 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
This contemporary fiction book was a WILD ride and I loved every exhilarating twist and turn! The Home Club is clearly based on members-only celebrity clubs like SoHo House but the newest Home Club is opening on a private island and features an opening weekend to die for.
Literally, because it’s a murder mystery. Except we the readers don’t know who is murdered, how, or why at the beginning…but instead we are treated to various narrators telling the points of view of the weekend as it unfolds.
The layered approach to telling the story of the celebrity shenanigans and the murder of a key figure in the Home Group family had me flipping through the pages of this isolation novel. A truly enjoyable beach read!
For more books like these, check out our complete list of celebrity book club picks ranked.
Beach Reads 2022
This is my favorite Elin Hilderbrand EVER. As usual, Elin’s storytelling revolves around a large cast of characters, this time employees of The Hotel Nantucket.
As we spend a summer with the staff and select hotel guests, we get to see what goes on behind the scenes of a luxury hotel. We see romances unfold and fall apart multiple scandals, demanding guests, and a ghost story!
I love how everyone’s stories folded together while revolving around the glorious hotel. If only I could visit this beach town resort this summer! This is one of the contemporary fiction books that is perfect to read this summer!
May 2022 Good Morning America Book Club Pick
Kirsten Miller delivers a killer magical realism novel about a trio of women who receive powers after going through menopause. The point of their powers is to bring to justice men who rape and kill women.
I was thoroughly entertained by this beach town mystery that pits the women against billionaire men around them. As usual, GMA delivers with its latest pick. This contemporary fiction book will not disappoint. We think this book about friendship is also an amazing book for book clubs! And while we know we included it on a lot of lists, we wanted to add it to our adult fantasy book list as well because it is just that good.
For more books like these, check out our Ultimate Beach Reads 2023
Contemporary Fiction: British Books
This story is so adorable! It’s Love Actually, Quarantine edition. It’s not a scary pandemic read AT ALL. Instead, it’s an interwoven tale of various couples stuck together for a week-long lockdown.
There is a group of bachelorettes, a new couple who have only shown their good sides to each other, an established couple struggling, a man separated from his girlfriend, and my personal favorite – a one-night stand turned week-long visit.
Charming and hysterical, this contemporary fiction book lifted my spirits and had me laughing out loud. If you are looking for cute quarantine fiction, this isolation novel can’t be beat.
I remember reading this contemporary fiction book shortly before it was turned into a hit movie starring Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger. This modern Pride and Prejudice retelling is told in diary form over the course of one year.
Hysterical and silly, Bridget’s antics are quite something. Mark and Daniel are deliciously brought to life via Bridget’s inner monologue. If you love the movie, try the book.
Bridget starts her diary on New Year’s day which makes in a perfect pick for books about New Year’s!
I picked up this contemporary fiction book to help combat my Royal Wedding withdrawal. I assumed it was going to be a light and fluffy romance — I had no idea I was going to be sobbing my eyes out with what is essentially the newest JoJo Moyes.
Ella has moved to Oxford to study for one year before heading back to America to work on a political campaign, fulfilling a lifelong dream to study in the famed English school. But then she falls for her professor and must decide what she wants from the future. We love Julia Whelan and jumped at the chance to include this great book in our list of British romance novels. This is an adult read from books set in college.
Best Feel-Good Contemporary Fiction
This is a wonderful contemporary fiction book about love and survival. It is so much more than it appears on the surface. It’s a beautifully written book about a vacation gone awry.
When Sophie and Barry find themselves on an Island as the sole survivors of a plane crash, they learn to depend on each other. The book moves seamlessly from the past to the present, weaving an intricate tale. It’s one of Kirsten’s favorite books of all time. We also included this one in our list of feel-good books!
If you are looking for vacation books, this is a perfect pick from the list of books like People We Meet on Vacation.
Music is big in my house so this contemporary fiction book spoke to me. Frank is a man who helps everyone with their problems by giving them the music they need from his little music shop. It sells only vinyl.
When a woman faints outside his shop, Frank realizes he can’t hear the music she needs. His life changes forever. This book about music is a similar feel to Little Paris Bookshop/Perfume Collector. There is a playlist on Spotify that goes with this book. So sit back, read, listen, and enjoy.
Victoria Jones has studied the language of flowers and uses it to communicate. After growing up in the foster care system, she is hesitant to let anyone get close to her. When she meets a mysterious stranger, she has to decide if she can let someone in and let go of her past.
Kirsten and I both absolutely loved this contemporary fiction book and read it before we even knew each other. The Victorian language of flowers is fascinating. This book incorporates this language into a story that will leave you wanting more.
We named this the best book of 2011 in our best of the decade post.
For more books like these, check out our amazing list of the Best Feel-Good Books
LGBTQ Contemporary Fiction
This charming contemporary fiction story is about a 65-year-old British postman being forced to retire. As he takes stock of his life, he realizes he is lonely and he doesn’t want to be in the closet anymore.
As she sets about changing his life for the better, we are privy to flashbacks of his strict childhood. You’ll be rooting for Albert the same way you rooted for Ove. It’s such a wonderful feel-good book. You can find more books like this in our list of Books Like a Man Called Ove.
Steven Rowley is a writer who has mastered the art of storytelling. With his signature wit and humor, this book tackles love, loss, and growth.
When Patrick’s sister-in-law dies and Patrick’s brother needs to go to rehab, Patrick takes custody of his niece and nephew for 90 days. Patrick is basically David from Schitt’s Creek with snark and sass. He treats the kids like mini-adults in the most delightful way.
I am such a fan of Steven Rowley and each book provides depth and insight into people at their best and worst. While this is a book about grief, you will find yourself laughing out loud multiple times throughout. It’s a poignant reminder of the importance of family. If you have not read this contemporary fiction book yet, what are you waiting for?
October 2018 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Wow! There are so many things that I loved about this contemporary fiction book. Rosie and Penn have five boys. The youngest, Claude wants to be a girl when he grows up. As this family navigates life with secrets, there is never a good time to explain that your youngest daughter was born a male.
These loving and supportive parents try to navigate a world in which not everybody is open-minded. This family drama book is poignant and all too realistic. It captures the innocence of youth and the struggles of an entire family. This is one of the best book club books on this list and a powerful book about motherhood. It is one of the feel-good novels you won’t want to put down.
Women in WorkPlace
April 2022 GMA Book Club Pick
I don’t even know where to begin with this unique contemporary fiction story. Elizabeth Zott is a chemist in the 50s when women were expected to know their place in society — their place being the kitchen and the home.
Elizabeth struggles to be taken seriously in her field and as a single mother, in this amazing book. So when an offer to host a cooking show for women is put in her path, she reluctantly takes it.
She uses her no-nonsense attitude and chemistry principles to teach the women in America to not only cook but to follow their dreams outside of the home.
Zott is a quirky character like Eleanor Oliphant with a charming daughter and a dog whose inner monologue is as quirky as hers. An absolutely wonderful book about motherhood! You can also find this book on our list of Books Like The Love Hypothesis as well.
Are you looking for the perfect book for your next book club? Check out our Lessons in Chemistry Book Club Guide. If you love this book and are looking for more, we also have 15 Books Like Lessons in Chemistry.
May 2022 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick
I haven’t read a novel with as much heart as this one in quite some time. Elderly, recently widowed Tova loves her job cleaning the aquarium in town in the quiet of the night, especially because of her fondness for Marcellus, the octopus. She finds solace in the aquarium as it makes her feel closer to her son, Erik – a marine life lover – who disappeared on a boat when he was 18.
But when she hurts herself and is unable to return to work at full capacity, she grows close with her replacement, Cameron, a young man who newly arrived in town looking for his birth mother.
Meanwhile, Marcellus knows what happened to Erik and he wants to help Tova find the closure she needs. His narration is interspersed with Tova and Cameron’s for a story that is compelling, heartwarming, and utterly unique.
I will be shoving this book into the hands of everyone who asks for a book recommendation because it’s my favorite book of 2022 and my pick as one of the best audiobooks of 2022.
Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, and hidden away by those in charge.
But the world has changed, and women are watching this promotion differently. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.
This contemporary fiction pick is perfect for our list of books similar to Lessons in Chemistry and is also on our list of best books for book clubs.
For more books like these, check out our amazing list of 22 Books about Women in the Workplace
Contemporary Fiction About Tea and Wine
This newest contemporary fiction book from Jamie Brenner is a departure from her previous books which have all been set in coastal towns. This story takes place in a vineyard!
Three generations of women must come together to save the family home and livelihood by having the failing vineyard. This would not be an easy task on any day but, they are also fighting against sexism and the belief that a women’s role is elsewhere. There is so much to discuss which makes is such a perfect book for book clubs.
Vivian, Leah, and Sadie must each confront their pasts and their own demons in order to come together. And if you love fiction books about wine, check out our post.
Oh, how I loved this wonderful contemporary fiction book. What could be better than a love story set in a Paris tea shop with a little magic sprinkled on top? This is not a complicated or unexpected story. But what it is, is delightful, fun, and lighthearted.
Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people’s future in tea leaves and spent her entire life fighting it. She also knows that this “gift” will stand in the way of having a successful relationship because she cannot stop blurting out truths whether she wants to or not.
When Vanessa’s aunt offers to bring her to Paris to hone her skills and get her life in order, Vanessa goes. As she finally gets to experience Paris, she wonders if she can change her destiny as well. This pick from fiction books about tea is one of my favorite magical realism books.
One week before her wedding, Georgia discovers that her fiancé has been keeping a secret from her. Not sure if she can get over it and go through with the wedding, she heads home to her family vineyard.
When she arrives, she does not find the solace she is looking for. Rather, her parent’s marriage is in shambles, her brothers are a mess and they are at risk of losing everything. This book about wine is such a fun book for book clubs to read and discuss. How do the characters develop? Did the book end the way you thought?
Contemporary Fiction by Canadian Authors
This is a haunting story about a woman held captive in a shed for years with her five-year-old son. She tries to teach him and entertain him in their tiny room until they have a chance to escape. This is an unforgettable pick from books that will emotionally wreck you.
Following their escape, they find acclimating to normal life to be challenging, especially for the little boy. This story will pull on your heartstrings and leave you in tears.
Even though the saying is “the book is better”, the movie adaptation of this contemporary fiction book written by a Canadian author was really good. There are only a few other book adaptations I would add to that list. If you haven’t read this isolation book about motherhood yet, you need to add it to your list.
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read.
She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant because, in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.
Offred remembers when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge, her husband Luke, and her daughter But all of that is gone now….
The contemporary fiction book/sci-fi book is scary because of how convincing it is. There is a reason this thought-provoking book by Canadian Author, Margaret Atwood, has won awards in addition to being made into a Netflix Series. It will make you think differently about everything.
For more books like these, check out our list of Candian Books by Canadian Authors
Contemporary Fiction Circus and Carnival Books
What would you do if you knew the day that you were going to die? Would want to know? The four Gold children find out the information that will shape their lives in this amazing magical realism book.
Beautifully written, the Immortalists follows Simon, Klara, Daniel, and Varya through their lives. Ms. Benjamin does a superb job of creating different voices for each of these characters. They are so vivid and unique. This family saga book about grief is un-putdownable and stays with you long after you have finished reading the last page.
If you want to host an Immortalists book club, we have a post that will help you make it spectacular.
This short contemporary fiction novel packs a huge punch as Albom attempts to answer the meaning of life.
83-year-old Eddie spends his days fixing rides at an amusement park. When he dies trying to save a little girl from a freak accident, he wakes up in the afterlife and meets 5 people he impacted while alive.
He thought he had lived a meaningless, unremarkable life. Instead, he finds out just how important he was to those around him as he learns secrets from his past.
This one-sitting read is like a warm hug. A must-read at some point in your life.
This book is my May pick for our reading challenge to read a book about a carnival or circus. I have to say that while I was happy to read this book that has been on my stack for so long, I didn’t love this book.
This is the crazy story of the Binewskis, a circus family whose matriarch and patriarch have bred their own children to be human oddities. Years later, we see Oly and follow her. The story is complex and disturbing and definitely not a feel-good contemporary fiction.
Contemporary Fiction Books about Books
More about a writer than a book, specifically, this Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary fiction LGBTQ book is full of heart. When Andrew Less gets an invitation to his ex-boyfriend’s wedding and his publisher drops his next book option, he decides to accept every literary event invitation for a year.
As he travels around the world, we are left rooting for him to sort out his life and begin again.
Looking for a laugh-out-loud contemporary fiction book? This novel about an Indian woman trying to marry her modern English identity with her parents’ conservative Indian values.
She takes up teaching a writing course for widows in her community and she learns so much about herself and them in the process. Between each chapter are hysterical and sometimes raunchy tales written by the widows in her class. I dare you not to smile while reading this story.
This is probably one of our favorite books on this list of books set in Paris and we recommend it all the time. The story features a floating book apothecary whose owner can meet you and give you a story meant for your soul.
When he needs to help his own soul, he sets his boat adrift on the Seine to see where it will take him. I loved every minute of this lovely contemporary fiction book and it is one of our favorites from the list of books set in France. As books for book clubs go, this one is at the top of our list.
Love Books About Books? We do too! That’s why we created the Ultimate List of Books About Books
Best Contemporary Fiction Books for Book Clubs
A contemporary fiction book set in Philadelphia! This is the story of 2 local girls, who have been best friends since childhood. Riley is a black woman living her dreams of being a reporter, while Jen is a pregnant white woman married to a cop.
Their friendship is put to the test when Jen’s husband kills an innocent black boy while in pursuit of a thief and Riley is the lead reporter covering the case.
Told from the perspective of both women, this gripping story covers systemic racism in the police force while dealing with the nuances of navigating a bi-racial friendship. If you are looking for powerful books about friendship, this is one that will make you think.
This doozy of a book was enthralling and thought-provoking. I knew it was a perfect book for book clubs from the very first chapter.
There are so many layers to this book that is a book about a fictional author and his book “Hell of a Book”. I can see why Jenna chose this book as her July 2021 pick.
The novel tells the story of Soot- a young black boy in a rural town. As we hear the story of Soot we also have the author talking to “The Kid”, a young black boy who may of may not be invisible.
The description of this contemporary fiction does not do it justice. It is a powerful and poignant commentary on family, children, and the lengths that parents will go to in order to protect their black children. This book is haunting and is such a fabulous book for book clubs.
Ladies, get your book clubs geared up for Chandler Baker’s newest novel. It’s part mystery, part social commentary, but it’s the latter that packs a punch in this contemporary fiction.
Baker examines the mental load that women carry as wives and mothers, particularly working women, and how it differs from what society expects of men.
Murder in the desirable Dynasty Ranch neighborhood has lawyer and prospective buyer, Nora, looking into what happened. With all the Stepford-style husbands she is meeting, she’s starting to wonder what kind of place Dynasty Ranch is after all. This is a perfect book for book clubs, it is such a thought-provoking book. You will have such a great discussion about this book about motherhood.
For more books like these, check out our list of Best Books for Book Clubs
Best Long Books
Clare and Henry have an unusual love story. They’ve known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, but got married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry was thirty-one. You see, Henry is an adventurous librarian who inadvertently travels through time.
I adore how this story explores very real challenges that any couple faces. With the added time travel element, it becomes an unforgettable pick from our list of romance books. The way that they fight for their love gives this book its clear spot on our list of best romance novels of all time. But be warned, this book may emotionally wreck you.
While I realize there is only the loose librarian connection to this book list, Henry and Clare’s story is one of my all-time favorites and it shouldn’t be missed. If you are going to read a time travel romance book, this is one that should not be missed. You can find more books like this on our list of 23 of the Best Time Travel Books Like the Time Traveler’s Wife and it is a perfect time travel story like A Discovery of Witches book.
Ready for some over-the-top wedding shenanigans? Kevin Kwan delivers in this wedding book! When a young man decides to bring his girlfriend home to Singapore for a wedding, she has no idea what to expect.
She didn’t know he was crazy rich, that his family was crazy, and that everything in Singapore is more, more, more. The details within these pages were so vivid, I could picture everything in this one-of-a-kind contemporary fiction!
This one makes it onto our list of the best books about weddings, too!
Lombardo’s debut is a tremendous contemporary fiction book about the complicated dynamics and hidden secrets of the Sorenson parents and their 4 daughters.
The coming-of-age story is told alternately in the present day when Jonah reunites with the daughter that gave him up 15 years prior, and the past touches on moments in the Sorenson family history that are coming back to haunt them.
Each character is deliciously flawed in a way that makes you feel like you’ve known them for years. I love that at the heart of the story, the book is about the many forms of love and how to live well. I cannot believe that Claire Lombardo is not a 50 or 60-year-old woman with children of her own.
This is one family saga book you must read! It’s perfect for our list of books about sisters!
For more books like these, check out our list of long books
Contemporary Fiction: Jewelry Books
Nothing says summer like a new book from Jamie Brenner and every book keeps getting better and better. This contemporary fiction story is told in dual timelines and will keep you turning the pages!
The Pavlin family is synonymous with the diamond engagement ring. When a publicity stunt pits the three daughters against each other, the winner will receive the Electric Rose- a massive pink diamond.
Now, 10 years later, Gemma Maybrook is devastated at the loss of her mother and is searching for the Electric Rose. The remaining two sisters are no longer speaking, the Pavlin name is in jeopardy, and Gemma is looking for answers.
I loved this charming contemporary fiction tale about a famed emerald necklace found in the basement of a Parisian magazine. Soon, the writers from the magazine are trying to track down the origins of the gorgeous necklace.
As we learn about the necklace passing from one owner to the next, the mystery of the jewels unravels along with the lives of the writers looking for its secrets.
Compulsively readable, I adored all the various aspects of this debut jewelry novel. I look forward to finding out what else Amy Tector can do. It was an easy pick for books set in Paris.
This contemporary fiction book had a little bit of everything and I could not put it down. When their Helen grandmother dies, the family is amazed to find out that she has left her granddaughter a massive diamond that can only be the Florentine diamond.
As the family hunts for the truth, there is drama from all over the world. Everyone seems to have a claim on the diamond and how did Helen come to process this priceless treasure?
This jewelry novel has suspense, history, treasure, and family drama- the perfect combo for a great summer read.
Jane Austen Retellings
This modern classic retelling of Pride and Prejudice had me giggling multiple times. The Bennett sisters get modern updates in all the best ways.
And in this one, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth have hate sex as part of the courting ritual which just cracked me up. Mrs. Bennett’s hysterics remain true to form and will be sure to delight. We love this pick from our list of best contemporary fiction books. It also appears on our list of Jane Austen Book Adaptations.
This book was my choice for a classic adaptation and I loved this contemporary fiction book it. Food and romance are at the center of this book and I thought that it was done so well.
It has all the classic conflicts of Pride and Prejudice with a fresh new spin that made the book so relatable and easy to read. The conflicts make it perfect for books like The Love Hypothesis.
This Bollywood retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma is a sweet and easy-to-read contemporary fiction book that brings Emma to life in a whole new way.
Kamila Hussain lives with her dad and is trying to keep him healthy after a few health scares. She works with him at an accounting firm and spends her free time volunteering with animals and matchmaking.
When her secret nemesis comes back to town, her world is turned upside down. If you want to check out more Jane Austen Retellings, check out our post!
For more books like these, check out our list of Jane Austen Retellings
Contemporary Fiction Set in Scotland
The Bookshop on the Corner #1
This contemporary fiction book was the first book that I read by Jenny Colgan and is different from her others. It is not centered around food but rather, books.
When Nina, a librarian, finds herself without a job, she decides to embark on a journey with a mobile bookshop in Scotland. There is nothing not to love in this sweet book. And if you love Jenny Colgan as much as we do, you can check out our post: The Best Jenny Colgan Books Ranked. We had to include this in novels about Scotland because we love it that much.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this contemporary fiction book initially. Eleanor bugged me in a way that I could not identify. She is not supposed to be likable initially which is why I persevered and I ended up loving the book and Eleanor.
As we get to know Eleanor and understand her profound loneliness, it made me think about what initial judgments I make in other areas. Eleanor is able to find herself and understand herself in this wonderful, feel-good book. If you are looking for books similar to lessons in chemistry, this book is a 5-star pick.
Eleanor has difficulty with social skills and is used to being alone until one day, she saves an elderly man who has fallen with the help of Raymond from her work. The three develop a friendship that is able to help heal Eleanor.
This is an adorable contemporary fiction read about a woman who goes to Scotland to find her man. The criteria- he has to look and be like Jamie Fraser.
That shouldn’t be too hard, should it? Isn’t every man tall, handsome, and completely perfect? Instead of finding her Jamie…she ends up finding her inner Claire instead. Totally cheesy but very fun for our list of books like Outlander and an adorable pick from books set in Scotland.
Contemporary Fiction Christmas Books
Jenny Colgan is back with a stand-alone Christmas romance book about a failing bookshop and the woman that saves it. Carmen is stuck with no boyfriend, no job, and living at home, while her sister Sophie seems to have it all – a beautiful house, a great husband, a killer job, and 3 kids with one more on the way.
When she realizes her client is going to lose his bookshop and home, she overs Carmen up for the job of turning the shop around, offering her a room at her house to boot.
But the long-standing rivalry between the sisters is out in full force, Carmen seems to sabotage her own happiness in the romance department, and her bookstore boss might be hiding some family secrets that need uncovering.
A charming contemporary fiction Christmas tale in true Jenny Colgan fashion, this heartwarming holiday book also has some appearances from beloved characters from previous books.
I was blown away by this tear-jerking story. It was a romance story for the first 30% of the book, but then it becomes something much deeper.
Josie mails a letter to her deceased parents every Christmas, but this Christmas she accidentally hits a stranger named Max with her bike on the way to the post box.
As she explored the holiday season with Max her feelings start to grow, but when he leaves unexpectedly, she’s left to deal with the aftermath of the impact he had on her heart. But fate isn’t done with their story yet as they bump into each other throughout the year.
Probably my favorite Christmas romance book of 2021, this one is a tear-jerker for sure. I sobbed for the entire last 10% of the book and it will most likely, emotionally wreck you. This book is a testament to the healing power of love and the kind of impact each of us can make on each other.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you are looking for a Christmas book that ends with a bow and smile, you may want to look elsewhere. Despite this, we needed to include this on our list of best holiday books.
I read 25 Days ‘til Christmas because I wanted a lovely, Christmas romance novel. The contemporary fiction story is about a single mother who decides to do an advent calendar of activities in the hopes of bringing life back to her home.
A cute guy befriends them and I thought I was getting the romance I was looking for. In actuality, the book takes a dark turn and deals with loneliness, depression, childhood disabilities, and grieving.
It was so much deeper than I thought when looking at the peppy cover. I loved it. Truly. I wanted to personally walk into the pages of the book and lift her up when life knocked her down.
I got the happy Christmas ending I wanted, but in a more meaningful way than I initially expected. I can’t recommend this one enough.
For more books like these, check out our list of Christmas Books
Contemporary Fiction About Mental Illness
Let me start off by saying, this is no Big Little Lies. I love Moriarty when her works are based more on events that could actually happen – My Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies remain great contemporary fiction books on my list.
This story about nine strangers at a health retreat had an incredible start and then got insanely far-fetched. Mind you, I enjoyed it immensely, but you need to go in knowing that it’s an enjoyable read but nothing more.
Rachel is a 24-year-old woman who has serious food issues stemming from her mother. She is obsessed with maintaining her body and her image while craving nurturing, unconditional love and food.
For Rachel, food and love are the same. When she starts a 90-day detox from her mother, Rachel meets Miriam, an overweight orthodox Jewish woman working is a yogurt shop.
There was so much about this contemporary fiction LGBTQ book that I really enjoyed but there were parts that I found so strange. Her fantasies about food were strange. Her sexual desires linked to mothering were disturbing to me. Overall, the book was well-written but not a favorite.
Man, I tackled some heavy books earlier this month. This contemporary fiction was a look inside an in-patient treatment facility for those suffering from an eating disorder.
This fictional account, had me rooting for all the women suffering as I prayed they would be able to help themselves enough to be released.
I had no idea just how complicated and hard to overcome an eating disorder could be or how easy it is to trigger it again. Still, this story ends on an uplifting note.
For more books like these, check out our list of books about mental illness
Magical Realism Books
Rebecca Serle has done it again with this book set in Italy. Katy’s mother, Carol, has died and left Katy to take their trip to Positano alone. When Katy leaves she is uncertain about everything and whether she will return to her marriage.
Then, the impossible happens, and Carol appears at Katy’s hotel. She is in perfect health and thirty years old. She is not the woman Katy thought she knew. As she gets to know her mother, she realizes more about herself.
This beautiful contemporary fiction book set in Italy is well-written and a must-read book about grief. However, the touch of magic in this book puts in on our best magical realism books as well. This is one of our favorite books about mothers and it is a perfect book club book. Can you tell we love this book?
As full cast audiobooks go, this book about music is the best one I have ever listened to. This magical realism book is also one of my favorite books of all time. It is narrated by “music” who is telling the story of a magician named Frankie Presto.
There are multiple people who narrate this book and it is more like a play. I could listen to this contemporary fiction book over and over so it no wonder that it is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved this book and bought a copy which I lent to an unnamed person who loved it and did not return it. My second copy has met the same fate. Third time’s a charm?
For more books like these, check out our Ultimate List of Magical Realism Books
Contemporary Fiction Set in Japan
The quirky character in this novel reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant. I loved being inside Keiko’s unique mind.
Keiko has been working at the same convenience store for 18 years. Listening to her inner monologue as she tries to conform with society is at times humorous and at other times sad. I would gladly have spent another 100 pages with Keiko in this delightful contemporary fiction book.
After learning of his sister’s brutal murder, Ren heads to a small town outside Tokyo to wrap up his sisters affairs.
Instead, he ends up taking over her job and her apartment as he tries to piece together what was happening with his sister in the years leading up to her death. In the process, he finds himself.
The housekeeper and the professor is a lovely story about a retired mathematics professor who has amnesia and can only remember the last 80 minutes.
He hires a housekeeper who must introduce herself to him every day. When the professor finds out that her son must be home without her after school, the professor immediately insists that the son come to his house every day and thus begins a beautiful relationship.
This is a beautifully written contemporary fiction book and an absolute must-read for anyone wanting to read about Japan.
For more books like these, check out our list of books set in Japan
Faux Celebrity Contemporary Fiction
I love Jennifer Weiner. Her writing is always fun and completely engaging. This contemporary fiction story was no exception. It added a twist that I did not see coming but, loved.
The story has a little “more” than some of her other books and it adds to the story. In a world of Instagram and influencers, mean girls and over-the-top weddings this book asks the question: Can people really change?
This book is perfect to read on the beach or on a virtual beach with some ocean sounds in the background!
Bel Canto’s story about a months-long hostage situation was lovely. It was so interesting to see the relationship between the hostages and their captures develop.
One of the main people is a famous Opera singer and the reason everyone was at the venue on the night of the capture. The movie adaptation of this book about music was great too. This pick from contemporary fiction books is a must-read.
A fictionalized account of the TomKat relationship that was the talk of the town for quite a few years.
Told from the perspective of the wife, Lizzie Pepper, we get a faux look at the world of Scientology and Hollywood. It’s over the top in the best way possible. I adore this celebrity fiction book.
For more books like these, check out our amazing list of books about faux celebrities
Contemporary fiction: Royal Reads
Look no further than this royal romance. If you haven’t read this romance loosely based on Wills and Kate’s love story, read no further. This is the end-all, be-all of Royal Reads.
This novel spans from the time Bex and Prince Nick meet in college until the night before their wedding. It goes through the ups and downs of the relationship and ends on a cliffhanger. But do not worry. The Heir Affair is already out and you can read that one next. Of all the royal reads, this is the one we recommend most often.
I love guilty pleasure royal romances, but this is so much more! Part romance, part mystery, this book has something for everyone and is an amazing beach read.
A young journalist is given a mystery to uncover after an old actor passes away, but her investigation quickly turns deadly. I felt all the feelings on this one. There were a couple of times when I was truly angry at the author, but in the end, I really enjoyed it!
This is the second fake dating book I read this month but this one hit all the right notes. This was such an adorable LGBTQ 🏳️🌈 romance.
When Luc, the son of two rock stars, needs a boyfriend who is respectable in order to keep his job, he is willing to fake a relationship. Oliver Blackwood is a barrister who needs a boyfriend to bring home to his family. The two could not be any more different.
It is a perfect situation until fake starts to feel real. Despite the fact that the two men could not be more different, they just might be the perfect Ying and Yang. This LGBTQ book is one of the enemies-to-lovers books that helped to take my mind off reality and it made me smile throughout the whole book. This is also a great fake dating book. I am always shocked by how many books are enemies to lovers and fake dating…who knew?
Love Royal Reads? We do too! That’s why we created the Ultimate List of Royal Reads.
Contemporary Fiction Books About Addiction
Long Bright River is phenomenal and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. The story takes place in Philly’s Kensington neighborhood which is known for having a huge opioid problem.
You can’t live in my area and not know about the epidemic spreading through our city. It’s devastating and scary and this book deals with it head-on.
The contemporary fiction story revolves around 2 sisters. One is a cop, one is an addict – both are being impacted by a string of murders in the area. This book dealt with many issues around drug addiction and it handles them without judging.
September 2020 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick
Covering drug addiction, immigration, racism, and more, this story is as entertaining as it is stimulating. Its discussion of drug addiction’s impact on the larger family unit was reminiscent of Long Bright River.
I also kept having to remind myself that it was a contemporary fiction story and not a memoir because the emotion and knowledge expressed in the book were so believable. This is one of the books about grief that you must-read.
A great book that had me laughing out loud and wondering who in the world does these crazy diets!!
I also loved how the story found a 40-something finally embracing her own badassness and standing up for herself. This contemporary fiction is the perfect poolside read.
For more books like these, check out our list of books about addiction
Contemporary Fiction Books about Wedding
This wacky story about three sisters who get engaged at the same time is laugh-out-loud funny. When their parents decide that the best way to save money is to throw them a joint wedding, well…let’s just say it’s a wild ride! How can there not be some serious drama?
Full of heart, sisterhood, and love, this contemporary fiction family drama story is one of Brenner’s best works. Of all the books featuring weddings on this list, this is probably one of my favorite feel-good books for the wedding season and it is a perfect pick for a list of books about sisters!
This was such a fun read- it was perfect to take with me for a weekend away. When Alexa gets stuck in an elevator with Drew, she makes the crazy choice to accompany him as a fake wedding date to a wedding the next day. If you love fake dating books, this is one of the books like The Love Hypothesis you must read.
What she didn’t account for was the fact that there might be some real attraction between them. She is a good girl and he is a commitment-phoebe. Can they make it work? We think you’ll love this wedding book.
I’m obsessed with Destination Wedding. It’s a wonderful contemporary fiction read for the summer wedding season or all year round. I knew very little about Indian weddings but now I’m dying to be invited to one! They sound like so much fun! This book takes place in India, but the main character is American-born. This could be just a light, beach read, but instead, it’s more.
The author touches on racism, and what it means to be an American-born child to parents who are from India. The feeling of not being at home in either location is explored in a way that I found very relevant today. I actually highlighted a few lines because they were eye-opening to me. It’s a summer read that has heart.
For more books like these, check out our list of books about weddings
This contemporary fiction book tells the story of Ifemelu and Obinze who are young and in love when they leave war-torn Nigeria. Ifemelu comes to the United States and despite plans to follow her, Obinze cannot come to post-9/11 America.
The saga takes place over a 15-year period when Ifemelu and Obinze are reunited in Nigeria. It is intense and deeply emotional. I read this book with a very heavy heart as it seemed like tragedy after tragedy befell these two individuals. This is one of our books about Africa that you must read.
However, with that said, this book is amazingly written and a true work of art. If you are looking for one of the best book club books, this would be your choice.
This contemporary fiction story was recommended to me so often in the past few years – and it’s an Oprah pick so I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. My library hold finally came due and I finally took the plunge. WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG?
Honestly, I love this story about immigration, Wall Street, and the American dream. At a time when election coverage is ramping up, this book seems so relevant and is a great book club book. Jeni and Nedi’s story about their move from Cameroon and how it affects their marriage and their morals was compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down. Don’t wait as long as I did to read this amazing African novel.
For more books like these, check out our list of 15 books about immigration
Contemporary Fiction About Women in Politics
Oh, Hillary. Who would you have become without Bill? Have you found yourself pondering this before?
Then look no further than Sittenfeld’s contemporary fiction story of what would have happened to Hillary had she ditched Bill when he was unfaithful before their marriage.
It had me longing to know what course our country would be on had the events of this political novel been true. We can’t wait to see this book adaptation.
This political fiction book struck the perfect balance between lighthearted and serious. I was fascinated by the titular character’s quest to be the first female senator in PA.
The dynamics at play when running for office drew me in, but I stayed for her marriage and her struggles to be everything to everyone. I loved the references to places I was familiar with making this a must-read for any local and a perfect pick for a list of contemporary fiction books and books about women in politics! And because the elections are in November, we knew this is a perfect book for fall.
This month’s reading challenge focused on Women in Politics so I picked up campaign widows as a light-hearted look at the spouses left behind when political campaigns hit the road.
It totally non-partisan, truly not identifying either political party, just making a commentary of the social politics of Washington D.C.’s elite. It was like a DC version of Sex and the City and I loved it!
For more books like these, check out our list of books about women in politics
Second Chance Contemporary Fiction
This contemporary fiction book was my surprise star of the summer so far. I had not heard of the book and thought it sounded great. I loved every minute of it.
Hubert Bird is a widower who has weekly conversations with his daughter in Australia. He tells her amazing stories about how he spends his time. The problem? It is all made up.
With his daughter coming to visit, Hubert must find friends and a life to show his daughter.
Hubert gets a second chance at love and friendship but the book dives deeper into Hubert’s past as well. The depth and sincerity in this book are wonderful and I cannot say enough good things about this feel-good book from our list of books like A Man Called Ove.
I picked up this contemporary fiction book and couldn’t put it down. I loved it from start to finish. It was such a great read that is really in the spirit of “A Man Called Ove.”
This intergenerational story of friendship, love, and overcoming personal obstacles, touched my heart. Kate is a reporter whose dreams of becoming a star reporter have dissolved into writing fluff pieces for a small, local newspaper.
She is almost paralyzed by her own fears and loneliness. When she is assigned to write a piece about a local lido closing, she meets Rosemary Peterson. Rosemary is 86 years old and has been swimming at the lido her entire life. The unlikely friendship between these two women is heartwarming and you won’t want to put it down.
Mr. Backman has a beautiful way of capturing the reader’s interest with wonderful characters that find themselves in hilarious situations.
I laughed out loud many times while reading. The book A Man Called Ove does indeed start with Ove trying to take his life and continuously being interrupted by his new neighbors and he mourns the loss of his spouse.
But, this story is so much more than that. As it progresses, Ove is able to have a profound impact on the life of everyone he meets, and at its heart, it is a book about friendship.
If you love this contemporary fiction book about grief, check out Books Like A Man Called Ove. But don’t let the description throw you off. At its heart, this is one of the best feel-good books and one of my all-time favorite books! If you have not read it, it is definitely one of the best book club books.
Contemporary Fiction Books about Friendship
What a refreshing contemporary fiction book about the power of love and friendship. I sat down and read this book in one sitting easily. It is captivating from the first sentence and had me until the last page.
Dannie is an ambitious lawyer with a plan. She has her life planned out until she falls asleep and spends one hour in the future. Nothing is familiar- not her house, the ring on her finger, or the man by her side. When she wakes, she cannot get the images out of her head.
I loved this time travel book it was unexpected, unconventional, and a delight to read. As books for book clubs go, this pick is sure to be a hit. And if your book club is looking for books about friends, this one is a sure hit.
This contemporary fiction story revolves around four families as they work to get their children into the new public charter school for gifted children in their wealthy Colorado neighborhood. There are lots of family secrets to unravel and drama galore, but there is a message at the heart of this book.
How much of our wishes and lives are we pushing on our children? Is being the very best what they should be striving for? I found myself contemplating my own children and how I’m raising them. Isn’t that the best part of a good book?
When the story hits so close to home that it leaves you contemplating your life, your children, and your purpose in the world. I can’t recommend this book about motherhood enough. It’s highly entertaining and, quite frankly, a must-read for the parents.
January 2020 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Such a Fun Age is a remarkable debut contemporary fiction from Philadelphia native Kiley Reid. This novel made me think and question the role our environment plays in who we are and who we become. I love how the author addresses racism without drilling it in.
Rather, she shows what it looks like from the overt to the subtle. The book focuses on the relationship between an African -American woman who is a nanny and her employer who is a white woman.
This influencer book about friendship is different than the other books on this list because the friendship is so one-sided. There is so much to discuss which makes it a perfect book for book clubs.
For more books like these, check out our list of books about friendship
What is your favorite contemporary fiction novel?
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