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Smart and compelling contemporary fiction

Sara
The list author says: "There's nothing better than finding one of those books that grab you from the first page and leave you desperate for more when you finally finish. There's nothing worse than finding one of those books that are poorly written with a predictable, threadbare plot, have one-dimensional characters, and ultimately leave you disappointed. Unfortunately, the good ones are far outnumbered by the bad ones...so I thought I'd put a list together in hopes of helping others find that perfect book!"
Love Walked In
Love Walked In
"Looks like chick lit (which I generally dislike) but is actually an incredibly moving and relatable story about love and family."
Belong to Me: A Novel
Belong to Me: A Novel
"The follow-up to Love Walked In."
The Forgotten Garden: A Novel
The Forgotten Garden: A Novel
"If I was a better writer, this would be the kind of book I'd like to write. It's a mystery that unravels slowly, over a hundred years and several different narrators, and every time I read it I love it even more."
The House at Riverton: A Novel
The House at Riverton: A Novel
"Not quite as good as The Forgotten Garden but still a page-turner."
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
"I suppose I gravitate to books about other books, and this is a great example. Haunting story about an aging writer and the mystery she has surrounded herself with."
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Time Traveler's Wife
"I'm sure this book has suffered from overexposure by now but it truly is amazing.  One of very few books that makes me cry every time I read it."
One Day (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Vintage Contemporaries)
One Day (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Vintage Contemporaries)
"Wish I had made this list before the movie tie-in was available because the book deserves to stand on its own.  Nicholls does a great job with the framework of the story and the snapshots the reader gets of Em and Dex each year are equal parts revealing, romantic and heartbreaking."
The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel
The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel
"This whole series is fantastic - I love Fforde's humor and the way he jam-packs his books with other literary references. I read these when I need to laugh."
The Swan Thieves
The Swan Thieves
"In my opinion, much better than The Historian, Kostova's first novel.  The transitions between present day and 19th century France are seamless and while the plot is somewhat quiet, somehow Kostova manages to keep the reader completely engaged over hundreds of pages."
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
"Absolutely brilliant concept and really well executed.  Fair warning - you'll need to be reading aloud by the end of the book to understand the remnants of Nollop's written language."
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
"Another novel in letters - good story and endearing characters."