If you’re anything like me, as November turns to December, you start thinking about the holidays (and, more importantly, holiday gifts!). Growing up, we had a saying at Christmas that “books don’t count”–not because they weren’t important, but because they were essential (like socks) and so my mom didn’t count them towards our regular gifts. Every year, she would take us to the university book store during their holiday sale, and use her employee discount to buy us books. Christmas Eve, we each got to unwrap one of those books, and I read happily late into the night. It’s one of my favorite memories from growing up.
Now, one of my favorite things to do is gift books. Only slightly behind gifting books is recommending books. Since I write YA, and consequently read a lot of YA, I will focus my recommendations on that category, though I’m happy to throw out other recommendations in the comments if you ask for them. (In the interest of brevity, I’m focusing my recommendations on newish releases–many of them by debut authors. It hurts my heart to think of how many books I’m leaving off this list).
Some of the best contemporary novels I read this year dealt with hard-hitting social issues (probably best for older teens).
Angie Thomas, The Hate You Give
Nic Stone, Dear Martin
Tiffany Jackson, Allegedly
S.K. Ali, Saints and Misfits
Jeff Zentner, Goodbye Days
Contemporary Romance is one of my favorite genres to read–who doesn’t love a good happy ending? These are fun and flirty, with just enough depth to ground them.
Kasie West, By Your Side
Sandhya Menon, When Dimple Met Rishi
Jilly Gagnon, #famous
Francesca Zappia, Eliza and Her Monsters (not as light as the others, but a fantastic story)
My favorite thing about mysteries are fascinating characters and a plot whose twist I don’t see coming, and these had that in spades.
Karen McManus, One of Us Is Lying
Danielle Mages Amato, The Hidden Memory of Objects
Really, this should probably just say fantasy, since that’s what I gravitate toward. I like my fantasy with strong heroines, rich worlds, and stories that stay with me.
Elly Blake, Frostblood
Erin Summerill, Ever the Hunted (the sequel releases December 5!)
Margaret Robertson, An Enchantment of Ravens
Katherine Arden, The Bear and the Nightingale (the sequel also releases December 5)
Julie Dao, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
Axie Oh, Rebel Seoul (the sole sci-fi on my list!)
I’m partial to a well-researched historical with a great ambiance.
Gwen Katz, Among the Red Stars
Emily Bain Murphy, The Disappearances
Mackenzi Lee, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Katie Nelson, The Duke of Bannerman Prep (Great Gatsby)
Kate Watson, Seeking Mansfield (Mansfield Park)
McKelle George, Speak Easy, Speak Love (1920s Much Ado)
I’d love to know what some of your favorite book recommendations are! What were some fantastic books you read this year you think everyone should know about? And if you’d like a specific recommendation, please pose a question in the comments.