When I used to read a lot of YA fiction, I remember having to browse the library for hours to find a new book to read, then read all the books by that author and begin the search again. Novel Novice, a new website celebrating it’s first birthday this month, makes it much easier to find awesome new reads, while providing a place for you to talk about them, blog about them, and win new books for doing so.

As I just discovered, one visit to the site will give you a long reading list of new books, as well as videos from users about the books, quirky interviews with authors, and more.  The site holds writing contests each month, but primarily focuses on building an exciting community around reading YA fiction. Another fun fact: Novel Novice was created by a Portlander, which means it gives many local YA writers and readers the attention they might not get elsewhere.

One year ago the site branched off from another site called Twilight Novel Novice, which was created by a middle school teacher who noticed that when she brought up the Twilight series, her students suddenly became more interested in books. Twilight Novel Novice, which includes contests, fan fiction, study guides, downloads, and more to keep Twilight lovers hooked on reading. Apparently it worked, for the site now has a huge following of young readers, teachers and other fans from around the world.

One idea behind the sister sites is that if teachers include contemporary books with bigger YA followings in their literature curriculum, more young people will get excited about reading and cease to see it as a chore. Teachers can use both Novel Novice and Twilight Novel Novice to find resources, including writing prompts and study guides, to help them teach these books, as well as places their students can go to find the online communities that will compel them to link reading to their tech-savvy lives.

This month, Novel Novice’s giddy creators are celebrating the site’s one-year anniversary by blogging about the beginnings of the site, posting authors’ and readers’ favorite things about the site, and holding an “Epic Contest,” that they claim deserves caps. So, it looks like now is the perfect time to start browsing Novel Novice, for throughout January you can win cool stuff, learn all about the site, and begin love affairs with all kinds of new books. Check it out!