You hear a lot about the importance of reading the classics, but what about the people who are making tomorrow's classics today? The problem with reading work that's out today is it's more difficult to separate the good from the bad. It takes time for bad novels to slip through the cracks and leave the lasting books triumphant. But at the same time, it's important to read what's coming out today if you want to be a writer. If you're looking for a taste of contemporary fiction, but don't know where to begin, try checking out The New Yorker's list of 20 under 40, or twenty writers under the age of 40 to watch. They're all just getting started or with only a few books out, at the beginning of their careers and itching to leave their mark on the world. It'll be interesting to see what their careers turn into, but in the meantime, you can read interviews of them, hear how they became writers, and what books they like to read, as well as reading samples of their fiction.
As a budding writer or creative artist, it's your job to keep your finger on the pulse of the art world today! Start doing your homework by reading the work of people just a little bit older than you are (the youngest person on the notable list is 24). Who knows - you might make it on the next notable young writers list!