As an avid member of the book loving community, I like to think that I’m well up to date with what’s trending in the latest books. Whenever there is a new book to film adaptation arriving on the big screen, I am straight out to purchase the book so I can critique the movie to shreds. “They didn’t have this in the book” I always mutter through mouthfuls of popcorn. I’m also a regular visitor to my local bookstores to browse through their “new releases” and “best sellers.” I have always had the desire to stay up to date with all things “bookish.” When I was in High School, the literary craze was Stephanie Meyer’s ‘Twilight Saga’ and I was all over that like butter on toast. I have fond high school memories of deep and meaningful conversations of Team Edward versus Team Jacob. (For the record, I’m forever Team Edward) Even in my time at University, I delved into Cassandra Clare’s ‘The Mortal Instruments’ and ‘The Infernal Devices’ series in a glorious attempt to find out what all the fuss was about. (Second fun fact for the record, the fuss is absolutely worth it) Dear reader I have even had my way with James Dashner’s ‘The Maze Runner’ trilogy, the ‘Divergent’ trilogy (and Four) by Veronica Roth and ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins. Whatever’s the latest book craze I will do everything I can to have it in my life.
In the last few months, I have personally noticed an emergence of a new genre of books. This style of books has been floating around the book universe for a long time, I’ve just ever noticed it before. Browsing through social media and goodreads, I kept stumbling upon the genre known as contemporary literature. It seems paranormal romance has finally been knocked off it’s literary pedestal and there’s a new Sherriff in town. Sadly I seem to be losing touch with my ability to stay informed with all things books, so my inspiration behind this blog post was to try and get the spark back…
I got my literature nerd on and discovered that contemporary literature is recognised as stories written after the year 1935. Contemporary literature explores what it means to be human with little or no purpose in the universe. Battling with the cyclic nature of life, these stories reveals the lack of individuality in the modern world and the irony of what goes around comes all the way back around (cue Justin Timberlake beats). Contemporary literature can be expressed in a verydisjointed and confronting way, revealing the darker side of human nature. Such a bigger category of literature than I initially expected! “This is heavy..” said Marty McFly
I took away from my research that contemporary literature is a lot more diverse than I first expected with many different type of books falling into this category. Nonetheless, the first book that popped into my mind though was John Green’s ‘The Fault in our Stars.’ (Sigh. If this story was a person, I would want it to be my very beautiful and emotional friend.)The way John Green demonstrates Hazel’s awareness of her condition and the way other people perceive her is extraordinary; and if I may say, so contemporary.
The book in particular that kept grabbing my attention on social media with recurring tags of “favourite contemporary” was Stephanie Perkin’s 2010 novel ‘Anna and the French Kiss.’ Not only was I completely in love with the cover of the book, but I was extremely interested in the hype surrounding this Parisian tale. So, I felt for my exploration of contemporary literature this bright and bold book was the perfect choice.
‘Anna and the French Kiss’ written by Stephanie Perkins depicts Anna Oliphant’s transition from a senior in Georgia to a boarding school student in Paris. Meeting new friends in a country where she cannot speak the national language, Anna is able to push herself outside of her comfort zone and challenge herself in new, exiting and terrifying ways. Most notably she is struck by an attraction to her fellow classmate Étienne (nicknamed St. Clair) which manages to rock her entire world.
Perkins is a literary genius to set her story in a city as gorgeous as Paris and I was struck by how beautifully she described the setting. I have visited Paris before and reading ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ brought back all my fond memories of the city of love. It is interesting to read Anna’s struggle with orienting herself with the city, but Perkins seems to be deliberate in constructing a learning experience of Anna discovering her identity and purposes in life. Because what girl in the world wouldn’t want to be loving it up in Paris?!
I will admit, much like Gillian Flynn’s ‘Sharp Objects’ I needed to apply my book rule of waiting 75 pages to get into the story. This rule is usually bulletproof when it comes to starting a new book and this read proved the same. I think I just needed to get comfortable with the narrator Anna and remember she is a teenage girl. She can only be expected to be moody and irrational at times. Initially reading this story I could not see what all the fuss was about. It was when I learnt about Anna’s fascination with movies that I became engaged in the story. Anna describes the love of watching movies much the same as the feelings I experience when reading a book. Perkins’ writing is definitely on point.
Very quickly I learnt that this book is not straight up contemporary literature and would instead be classified as Romance Contemporary Literature, as it explores what is like to be young and madly in love. The book itself did exemplify characters establishing their identities both independently and in their relationships, but ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ was not the deep and meaningful read I believed it to be. In saying that, I absolutely loved the way Perkins wrote about the fear of being alone and is really interestingly illustrated from multiple character’s throughout the story.
Although it didn’t live up to my high expectations of contemporary literature, ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ was a nice light hearted read. It was really enjoyable to pick this book up and steal some precious moments away from reality and I was able to really zone out. I am planning to read Perkins’ other book ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’ during my summer break as I think it would be perfect to read outside while the sun is shining.
Learning about a new literary genre for me was really exciting! It has opened me up to a new range of books to be explored. Even though the contemporary literature genre writes on the lack of originality in the universe, every time I read a new book I always learn a little bit more of the world and my place inside of it. Who knows dear reader, maybe that is the beautiful irony of falling in love with contemporary novels…
Miss Book Dependent xo