Fangirl is the quirky, endearing YA contemporary you want to reread for the relatable characters and laugh-out-loud one-liners. It’s a delightful coming of age tale about a girl who writes escapism fanfiction and finally learns that real life might be worth her attention. Cath’s first year of college reminds us what it’s like to find our place in a new season of life. For “fans” of Fangirl looking for similar contemporaries about sibling relationships, first love, and coming out of your shell, start here…
1. The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen
When Macy and her brainiac boyfriend break up at the start of summer, she gets a job with the wacky Wish Catering crew rather than working boring shifts at the library. Macy finds friendship and potentially something more with Wes, who is kind, patient, and honest. She feels more at home with these friends she hardly knows than with her own mom, who wants to pretend that everything is normal after the death of Macy’s dad. Like Fangirl, this YA contemporary explores deeper themes about family, grief, and love. Readers who loved Cath and Levi’s relationship will appreciate the slow burn between Macy and Wes.
2. Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
This is another beloved YA contemporary romance by author Rainbow Rowell. Eleanor and Park are misfit high school students in the late 80s. Socially outcast for what makes them different, their story begins when they sit next to each other on the bus ride home. Sharing comic books, music, and more, Eleanor and Park develop at first a hesitant friendship that turns into something more. Like Fangirl, Eleanor and Park is a relatable and touching tale about the joys of awkward first love.
3. Geekerella, by Ashley Poston
Elle is the orphaned daughter of cosplayers and a dedicated fan of the sci-fi series Starfield. It was her dad who created the popular convention ExcelsiCon, and this year, Elle is determined to win the cosplay contest. She’s not happy, however, about the casting for the Starfield movie adaptation. Little does she know, she’s exchanging flirty texts with the lead actor himself in a You’ve Got Mail style anonymous romance. But it’s not all fun and games as Elle’s stepmom and stepsisters put every obstacle in her path. Geekerella is a modern-day Cinderella tale and a love letter to fandoms. Readers who enjoyed Cath’s Simon Snow fanfiction will understand and appreciate Elle’s passion for Starfield.
4. Time of Our Lives, by Emily Wibberley
Fitz and Juniper have different viewpoints about college. Fitz won’t allow himself to get too excited, as he’s decided to stay close to home to care for his mom who has early-onset Alzheimer’s. Juniper, on the other hand, eagerly awaits the independence that college promises. When they cross paths on a college tour, the two are drawn to one another even when it seems they have little in common. The trip gives them their first taste of college life, and they realize there’s more to learn about themselves, their families, and the wider world that awaits. Time of Our Lives is a fresh, thoughtful coming-of-age tale that captures the anxiety and excitement we feel before going off to college.
5. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han
When Lara Jean has an intense crush, she pens a letter expressing her feelings as a way to move on. She has a problem when her secret letters are mailed to the five boys of her past–including Josh, her older sister’s boyfriend. So Lara Jean strikes a deal with popular classmate Peter Kavinsky, another unsuspecting recipient of her love letters. They’ll “fake date” in an effort to convince Josh that Lara Jean is totally over him. At the beginning of the book, Lara Jean is much like Cath–content to stay in her lane and reluctant to try new things or make new friends. A book about sisters, self-discovery, and first love, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has that same balance of lighthearted fun and emotional depth as Fangirl.
6. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman
Nina appreciates the comfort and predictability of her routine. An avid reader, she works in an independent bookstore and lives vicariously through the characters in books (thus eliminating the need for any real-life experiences of her own). But when the father she never knew passes away, Nina must open up her very small social sphere to meet his family–her new relatives. Featuring a heroine as adorably naive and socially awkward as Cath, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is about a girl who comes out of her shell to find that the relationships we make in real life are just as sweet as those in fiction.
7. Since You’ve Been Gone, by Morgan Matson
It’s summer, and Emily’s best friend Sloane left town without a word. All she’s left behind is a to-do list of tasks designed to push Emily outside of her comfort zone. But it was always Sloane who was dynamic, interesting, and bold… never Emily. With the help of boy-next-door Frank Porter, Emily is determined to complete every item on Sloane’s list in hopes of getting her best friend back. Just as Cath felt adrift without Wren, her confident other half, Emily must learn to embrace life in Sloane’s absence. Morgan Matson gives us a reluctant heroine and an epic bucket list, which makes for quite an entertaining read.
8. Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
Anna feels like a fish out of water when she’s sent to a fancy boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school. At first, she’s reluctant to venture farther than the gates of SOAP–the School of America in Paris. But with the help of her quirky new friends, including the handsome, teasing Brit Etienne St. Clair, Anna finds herself embracing her international experience. While Anna may not be going off to college, her Parisian campus feels foreign to her, far from the comforts and familiarity of home. Anna and the French Kiss is another YA contemporary about feeling out of place, discovering oneself, and falling in love.