Top 7 YA Contemporary Books to Read this Summer

Patrycja Chrzanowska, Editor in Chief

The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and you’re probably being harassed by mosquitos. That’s right, summer is finally here! Unfortunately, many of us are spending a lot of this summer at home because of quarantine, but if you’re looking for something to do this summer without breaking social distancing rules, don’t overlook all of the good books you can read this summer. Here are a few great young adult contemporary reads so you can vicariously have the best summer ever.

  1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz

    • Aristotle and Dante is truly an eye opening story, in more ways than one. It’s a slice-of-life type of novel that follows two teen boys Aristotle (who is cynical and suffers from self-doubt) and Dante (who is confident and optimistic) as they experience a summer of discovery, and growth. This summer you may not have the opportunity to teach a stranger at the public pool how to swim, or watch a sunset in the desert with your best friend, but through Aristotle and Dante, you can experience the different rules of summer again.
  2. Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman

    • It’s summer in Northern Italy in the 1980s. Experience the powerful romance that unfolds in a cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. That’s right, a fun summer love story embellished with dinner parties on beautiful summer evenings, late night rendezvous, and even a trip to Rome. Spend your summer with Elio and Oliver. You won’t regret reading about Elio’s insightful thoughts and these perfect summer nights. And after you finish reading, you can also watch the film adaptation of Call Me by Your Name, staring Timothee Chalamet. (This book and film contain sexually explicit content.)
  3. An Abundance of Katherines – John Green

    • Let’s be honest, we all know that nothing screams summer more than a road trip. So take a road trip with Colin, a washed-up child prodigy, and Hassan, his best friend, who have both just graduated from high school. Where does this road trip take them? Gutshot, Tennessee, home of Srchduke Franz Ferdinand’s grave (allegedly). And yes Tennessee doesn’t sound like the most glamorous or interesting place, but that does not mean that there isn’t plenty to do and discover, and maybe even prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability.
  4. Down and Across – Arvin Ahmadi
    • If Tennessee isn’t quite your cup of tea, how about Washington DC? How about sneaking off to Washington DC to find a psychologist who claims to know the secret to success while your parents think you are attending an internship in Philadelphia? A high speed bicycle chase, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and sneaking into bars; that’s exactly how Scott Ferdowski spends four weeks of his summer. And you could read all about his unexpected adventure while you wait until it’s safe for you to have your own.
  5. The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon
    • For Natasha and Daniel, summer is not quite here, but college is just around the corner nonetheless, yet they both have bigger things to worry about than college. Natasha, for one, is preoccupied her very last chance of keeping herself and the rest of her undocumented family from being deported to Jamaica. Meanwhile, Daniel is trying to figure out his destiny, which he’s pretty sure isn’t: going to Yale and becoming a doctor like his parents want. We all know the feeling of experiencing that perfect, long summer day that seems endless, but no matter how endless a day seems, it inevitably eventually ends. Still, maybe knowing that the day will end, and understanding the permanence of that end, could help you appreciate the time you have. 
  6. Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
    • If you think being stuck in quarantine for a few months is boring, try spending seventeen years stuck in your house. Maddy has a rare disease, SCID. Basically, it means she’s allergic to, well, everything. I can see how maybe it doesn’t seem fascinating to read about someone stuck in quarantine while you are also stuck in quarantine, but everything changes for Maddy when a new family moves in next door and she meets Olly. And maybe this story ends with a trip to Hawaii, but you’ll have to find out for yourself.
  7. The One Memory of Flora Banks – Emily Barr
    • Okay, so I acknowledge that not everyone is hyped about the summer. It’s perfectly fine to miss the snow and to miss not sweating every time you have to leave the house. If you’re one of those people, consider spending the hottest days of the year next to an ac while reading about Flora Banks. Flora has anterograde amnesia, which means she can’t create any new memories. Flora is 17, but she hasn’t been able to make any new memories since she was 10. Except one summer night, Flora creates a new memory. And this new memory leads her on a trip to Svalbard, a Norwegian island where during the summer, there is 24 hour sunlight. And polar bears roam the snowy mountains right outside of town. And there is no one there to help Flora when she forgets. But this doesn’t stop her from being brave.