Contemporary/realistic fiction is my favourite genre, especially if the protagonist is a woman navigating life in her twenties or thirties. Bonus points if the story is based in London.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for relatable content!
So, without further ado, these are the 15 Millennial books that I’d love to read this year.
1. GHOSTS – DOLLY ALDERTON
32-year-old Nina Dean is a successful food writer with a loyal online following, but a life that is falling apart. When she uses dating apps for the first time, she becomes a victim of ghosting, and by the most beguiling of men.
Her beloved dad is vanishing in slow motion into dementia, and she’s starting to think about ageing and the gendered double-standard of the biological clock. On top of this she has to deal with her mother’s desire for a mid-life makeover and the fact that all her friends seem to be slipping away from her…
2. EXPECTATION – ANNA HOPE
Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.
Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?
3. ADULTS – EMMA JANE UNSWORTH
Jenny McLaine is an adult. Supposedly. At thirty-five she owns her own house, writes for a cool magazine and has hilarious friends just a message away.
But the thing is:
- She can’t actually afford her house since her criminally sexy ex-boyfriend Art left
- Her best friend Kelly is clearly trying to break up with her
- She’s so frazzled trying to keep up with everything you can practically hear her nerves jangling
- She spends all day online-stalking women with beautiful lives as her career goes down the drain.
And now her mother has appeared on her doorstep, unbidden, to save the day…
Is Jenny ready to grow up and save herself this time?
4. THE SWITCH – BETH O’LEARY
When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
5. INSATIABLE – DAISY BUCHANAN
Stuck in a dead-end job, broken-hearted, broke and estranged from her best friend: Violet’s life is nothing like she thought it would be. She wants more – better friends, better sex, a better job – and she wants it now.
So, when Lottie – who looks like the woman Violet wants to be when she grows up – offers Violet the chance to join her exciting start-up, she bites. Only it soon becomes clear that Lottie and her husband Simon are not only inviting Violet into their company, they are also inviting her into their lives.
Seduced by their townhouse, their expensive candles and their Friday-night sex parties, Violet cannot tear herself away from Lottie, Simon or their friends. But is this really the more Violet yearns for? Will it grant her the satisfaction she is so desperately seeking?
6. OLIVE – EMMA GANNON
Olive is many things, and it’s ok that she’s still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations, there are choices to be made, boxes to tick and – sometimes – stereotypes to fulfil. And when her best friends’ lives start to branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, Olive starts to question her choices – because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.
7. PRETENDING – HOLLY BOURNE
April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal – yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry.
If only April could be more like Gretel.
Gretel is exactly what men want – she’s a Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems.
The problem is, Gretel isn’t real. And April is now claiming to be her.
As soon as April starts ‘being’ Gretel, dating becomes much more fun – especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua.
Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?
8. SO LUCKY – DAWN O’PORTER
Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.
AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?
Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.
And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…
9. PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN – CAROLINE O’DONAGHUE
On the day of her 26th birthday, Jane is recently single, adrift at her job, and intrigued by why Clem – her much older, married boss – is singing to her.
Meanwhile her alter-ego, the online agony aunt Jolly Politely, has all the answers. She’s provided thousands of strangers with insightful and occasionally cutting insights to contemporary life’s most vexing questions.
When she and Clem kiss at a party, Jane does not follow the advice she would give to her readers as Jolly: instead she plunges head-first into an affair. One that could jeopardise her friendships, her career and even her life.
10. THE EDUCATION OF IVY EDWARDS – HANNAH TOVEY
Ivy Edwards is thirty-one years old, funny, shameless, and a bit of a romantic. She’s also currently trying not to cry in the office toilet.
Partly because she’s just run out of money for fags. A bit because her mum continues to annoy her. Definitely not because she’s just been dumped by her fiancé.
With her London life in shambles and her family miles away in the Welsh valleys, Ivy doesn’t actually feel like she belongs anywhere.
At least, she has her friends – and a bottle of vodka.
Embarking on a journey of singlehood, Ivy is about to discover that sometimes, having your life fall apart can be surprisingly fun.
Sometimes, heartbreak can be the best education . . .
11. MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE – TAYLOR JENKINS REID
At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.
Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?
In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?
12. THE SHELF – HELLY ACTON
Everyone in Amy’s life seems to be getting married (or so Instagram tells her), and she feels like she’s falling behind.
So, when her boyfriend surprises her with a dream holiday to a mystery destination, she thinks this is it – he’s going to finally pop the Big Question. But the dream turns into a nightmare when she finds herself on the set of a Big Brother-style reality television show, The Shelf.
Along with five other women, Amy is dumped live on TV and must compete in a series of humiliating and obnoxious tasks in the hope of being crowned ‘The Keeper’. Will Amy’s time on the show make her realise there are worse things in life than being left on the shelf?
13. LUSTER – RAVEN LEILANI
Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up.
And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.
14. HOW DO WE KNOW WE’RE DOING IT RIGHT: & OTHER ESSAYS ON MODERN LIFE – PANDORA SYKES
Modern life is full of choices. But how do we know what our best life looks like? And what if we get it wrong?
Incisive, wide-ranging and witty, this book explores the questions, anxieties and agendas that consume our lives. Pandora Sykes interrogates the stories we’ve been sold and the ones we tell ourselves – from happiness to wellness; womanhood to consumerism – in ways that are both surprising and reassuring. How Do We Know We’re Doing it Right? will spark a thousand conversations and encourage us to find our own path to contentment.
15. THE PANIC YEARS: DATES, DOUBTS AND THE MOTHER OF ALL DECISIONS – NELL FRIZZELL
The panic years can hit at any time but they are most commonly triggered somewhere between the ages of twenty-five and forty. During this time, every decision a woman makes – from postcode to partner, friends to family, work to weekends – will be impacted by the urgency of the one decision with a deadline, the one decision that is impossible to take back: whether or not to have a baby.
As always, let me know what you thought of these books if you’ve read any of them and hit me up with any recommendations!